Monday, September 28, 2015

#1474: Michael H. Cohen

Though he is the author of a particularly idiotic essay on Intelligent Design, Jonah Cohen seems to be too minor even for us.

Michael H. Cohen, on the other hand, is perhaps one of the more dangerous promoters of pseudoscience and woo out there. Cohen, apparently a former professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health – he has for instance been deeply involved in the woo shenanigans that have plagued the Harvard Medical School the last couple of years – is the founder of the Michael H. Cohen Law Group, which specializes in healthcare-related legal issues surrounding altmed, FDA & FTC law, and how to get quacks and crackpots off various legal hooks. Apparently Cohen is also trained as a seminarian, yogi, Ericksonian hypnotherapist, and energy healer, having been the president of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine in Newport Beach; the NCCAM has also made use of his writings). Of course, Cohen has no background in science, medicine or good critical thinking, but he knows his legal issues, and his numerous books on legal questions surrounding pseudoscience and woo have presumably been quite helpful for practitioners who wish to exploit people in difficult situations (as suggested e.g. by his contribution to the collection Integrative Oncology: Incorporating Complementary Medicine into Conventional Cancer Care (Current Clinical Oncology), edited by Maurie Markman and Lorenzo Cohen). He has even managed to get at least one of his screeds (discussed here) published in the influential (peer-reviewed) journal Pediatrics; in “Informed Consent: Advising Patients and Parents About Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies” he and his coauthors (Joan Gilmour, Christine Harrison, Leyla Asadi and Sunita Vohra, a Canadian physician affiliated with the “Complementary and Alternative Research Education (CARE) Program,”) advocate using laws about informed consent to force doctors to “inform” their patients about “complementary and alternative medicine” to pediatric patients, using touching anecdotes and trying to claim that the evidence indicates that certain alternative modalities such as acupuncture are efficacious (false).

Of course, Cohen doesn’t limit himself to promoting acupuncture. His blog, CAMLaw, is “unrelentingly hostile to science-based medicine” and pro-woo, and Cohen has been deeply involved in the American Association for Health Freedom, a group dedicated to convincing the government to legitimize various implausible medical claims through political campaigning rather than science.

To get an idea about where he comes from, you could have a look at his essay “What is the Matrix? A Radical Look at Medico-Legal Reform,” in which he likens health care law and health care to the Matrix, promoting instead what appears to be a complete lack of regulation. And instead of regulations, he suggests … well, perhaps we should let him speak for himself:

Health and healing can involve the highest of which a human being is capable. Near-death experiences, encounters with angels, and events that touch the individual’s interior castle and border on mysticism-hese experience manifest ‘light,’ in the sense of coming closer to that which is Supreme at the edges of our consciousness. How would an enlightened civilization, composed of enlightened citizens, govern its own evolutionary movement toward the highest possible level of healing? What role would law play? Would the absence of regulation, instead of its pervasiveness, bring peace-a kind of regulatory lacuna? Would legal structures be able to handle the notion that healing involves mind, body, emotions, and spirit, but also such other dimensions of the human experience as inter-species communication and greater sense of earth-consciousness (Gaia)?

Yeah, that kind of guy. But he still managed to get a (co-authored) article in Pediatrics.

Diagnosis: Not the faintest trace of understanding of or respect for science, reason or careful assessment of evidence. Indeed, Cohen’s writings are prime material. Yet he somehow still maintains a scary amount of influence. 

No comments:

Post a Comment