Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#2189: Amy Rothenberg

I love being able to look at new approaches that may come along and to ask myself, ‘Is this within the bounds of the philosophy I so embrace?’ And if not, to let it go,” 
(We hope we don’t have to explain to readers why whether something fits my personal philosophy or religious creedis not how you determine which treatments or health measures are safe and effective or not.)

Amy Rothenberg is the former President of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors, board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, occasional blogger for Huffington post and sometime editor of the journal New England Journal of Homeopathy, which is almost like a science journal except for the science part. She is, in other words, kind of a big name on the quackery scene, and despite being in complete denial about the difference between accountability and free use of fantasy, and utterly unable to recognize facts and evidence, she has been at the forefront of the naturopathic push for recognizing naturopaths as being qualified to help address the shortage of primary care physicians. They aren’t, by any stretch of the imagination – deeply committed as they are to medieval and prescientific medical principles such as vitalism, balancing of humors (or “energy) – including homeopathy – dressed up in sciency-sounding pseudojustifications and truthiness. Naturopaths love truthiness. Rothenberg herself advocates homeopathy, even as a treatment for autism. Facts and evidence and basic understanding of medicine, biology and physics be damned.

Hat-tip: I f**ing hate pseudoscience

Due to her status in the world of pseudoscience, Rothenberg was a natural choice to include among those representing the side of lunacy at the FDA public hearings on homeopathy in 2015. Rothenberg said she believed that “FDA’s current regulatory approach to homeopathic products is working well,” which is hardly surprising, and provided – like most other homeopathy defenders at the show – an infomercial for naturopaths and homeopaths, emphasizing their “extensive” classroom and clinical training, exams, and the like (with less focus on what the students learned or what the exams tested them on). In addition to some personal anecdotes – and unlike the other participants – Rothenberg actually did attempt to explain homeopathy’s purported mechanism of action. According to Rothenberg, the mechanism is hormesis, a classic homeopathic piece of pseudoscience.

Rothenberg has been a pretty persistent lobbyist for naturopathy and the supplement industry in Massachusets for years, using arguments that are disingenuous at best, and she was instrumental in the quack movement’s successful campaign to gain licensure in Massachusets in 2017. Licensure, of course, gives naturopaths both a sheen of legitimacy, and enables them to protect their turfs against other quacks – indeed, Rothenberg herself emphasized that the bill would protect patients from inadequately trained naturopaths, which, given the “training” naturopaths actually get, means nothing. Rothenberg also emphasized “the unique role that naturopathic doctors can play in the state,” and claimed that naturopaths bring “expertise in both preventive medicine and natural integrative care” – the former (“expertise” in “preventive medicine”) is, of course, false; the second (“expertise” in “natural integrative care”) is not healthcare. It was not her first attempt, though; Rothenberg had been part of the effort at least since 2001; her claims were as divorced from evidence then as they are today.

Rothenberg’s own background story is fairly typical. At one point, Rothenberg had cancer, which was cured through conventional care: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But while undergoing real and effective treatment, she also subjected herself to a wide range of quackery that added nothing to her care, including intravenous vitamin infusions, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and enzyme therapy. Since she did get well, however, she chose to attribute much of the success to the woo.  

Hat-tip: i f***ing hate pseudoscience

The American Council for Continuing Medical Education has on at least one occasion been duped into accepting that Rothenberg and people like her have something to offer modern healthcare.

Diagnosis: A central figure on the quackery & pseudoscience scene – confident, zealous, professional-sounding and lacking even the most cursory understanding of evidence, reality and accountability and why any of that matters when offering advice or treatments for people in need. Disgusting. 

No comments:

Post a Comment