Monday, September 14, 2020

#2383: Pat Wagner

A.k.a. “The Bee Lady”

Bee venom therapy (BVT) is one modality within the general domain of quackery known as apitherapy: the use of various bee products as medical treatments. It is perhaps a relatively minor branch of folk medicine, but it is nevertheless used by thousands of people, and has lately gained some popularity, like most types of bullshit, with the help of the internet. And it has also, of course, been commercialized and corporatized by the CAM industry, which we grudgingly admit tends to be pretty adept and effective at monetizing new types of nonsense – though it’s really not that hard when you don’t need any evidence, science, coherence, facts or accountability to support your marketing. And no, there is of course no even remotely convincing evidence suggesting that bee venom therapy or apitherapy may be effective for any of the conditions for which it is used – and (not a website to visit for medical information) claims it can be used for over 500 conditions (a red flag if there ever was one).


One of the conditions for which BVT is supposed to work, is multiple sclerosis (MS). Pat Wagner, or the Bee Lady, treats herself for MS by allowing bees to sting her and advertises the idea to others in similar situations. Now, the target is not particularly surprising: MS is unpredictable, susceptible to spontaneous remissions and exacerbations, and not curable by real medicine. Since statistical regression is tricky to understand and recognize, many people will be prone to commit regressive fallacies, and anecdotes will accordingly be easy to harvest … for any conceivable snake oil or ridiculous nonsense people may subject themselves to, really, including BVT. And there is absolutely no scientific evidence that it works, and no plausible reason to think it should; rather, BVT is a beautiful, and teachable, example of the powers of bias and subjective validation. (There is a very good discussion here).


As for Wagner, she is a member of the American Apitherapy Society and has even written a book How Well Are You Willing To Bee. We admit that we haven’t bothered to even look at its table of contents, but already the title suggests a pretty common (and dangerous) trope among woo practitioners, victim blaming: if their nonsense didn’t work for you, you just didn’t want it hard enough.


Diagnosis: Silly nonsense. Though Wagner is probably primarily harming herself, her bullshit will certainly cause unnecessary pain, and possibly genuine harm, if you ever decided to listen to her.  


Hat-tip: Science-based medicine


Addendum: Wagner seems to have passed away. We’ll still post the entry, though, since BVT has certainly not gone away with her.

No comments:

Post a Comment