Saturday, March 29, 2014

#978: Issam Nemeh

Issam Nemeh, MD, is a general practitioner (and Catholic) in the Cleveland area who also practices faith healing – in this case in the form of using heated acupuncture-type needles, the passing of hands, and prayer. Indeed, Nemeh has managed to garner for himself quite a reputation as a faith healer the last two years of so. Of course, the scientific evidence against faith healing as an efficacious form of healing is overwhelming. But Nemeh states that “[e]ven skeptics agree that faith and prayer can improve one’s mental state, which can in turn promote physical health,” for which the evidence is, at best, moot, and that “[s]ome also suggest that people who report being cured by faith healers are probably experiencing a placebo effect, a powerful phenomenon in which symptoms improve on the mere belief that a remedy is at hand.” But of course. When everything else fails, appeal to the placebo effect and potential patients’ perception of the effect as some kind of magic. The placebo effect, however, doesn’t quite work the way Nemeh has to assume that it works for it to justify his woo. The explanation for positive testimonials is rather along the lines of this.

Nemeh’s current success is of course partially due to being promoted by what is perhaps the currently most influential promoter of quackery and fraud in the US today, dr. Oz. And Oz promotes Nemeh as if Nemeh was some kind of contemporary Jesus, with testimonials from a paralyzed patient who claims that he’s noticed some movement in his feet since Dr. Nemeh started treating him, a woman who implied that she had her vision restored, and a woman who claims that her multiple sclerosis is gone. Nemeh’s (and Oz’s) investigations into his practices follow the golden scientific rules of cherry-picking, selective thinking and post hoc reasoning.

He is succinctly discussed here.

Diagnosis: He should be ashamed of himself. But he sure isn’t. Extremely dangerous.

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