Sunday, December 15, 2019

#2282: Leanna Standish

Leanna Standish, “N.D., Ph.D., Dipl.Ac.” (and more recently also LAc, FABNO), is one of the movers and shakers in the movement to legitimize and popularize quackery, woo and nonsense in the US. A “licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist”, Standish is also former Director of the Bastyr University Research Institute from 1987 to 2001 and, as naturopathic cargo cult science practictioners see it, a “Senior Research Scientist” in “experimental neuroscience with numerous publications.” Her “clinical practice specializes in cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C and neurological diseases”. Apparently she also directed “the Breast Cancer Research Program at Bastyr University” at one point and was a member of the Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (currently NCCIH) from 1999 to 2001; she has also served on the NCI Cancer Advisory Panel for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the NCI Institute of Medicine’s committee to investigate the “Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by the American Public”, discussed here, together with luminaries like Jeanne Drisko.

Standish has been principal investigator on several NIH/NCCAM funded research projects in the areas of HIV/AIDS and basic neurophysiological research on mind/body interaction, and has published extensively in questionable journals such as Integrative Cancer Therapy (which has also published e.g. Stanislaw Burzynski’s stuff) and the Journal of Natural Medicines. Still a faculty member at Bastyr, her classes include e.g. a course, “within the Spirituality, Health and Medicine program”, on “scientific evidence from physicians and biology that addresses some of the propositions emerging out of modern spiritual disciples [sic]”. It is safe to say that the investigative method used to connect science with “spiritual disciples” is, shall we say, of the more associative kind.

Currently her research is focused on things like functional brain imaging in the treatment of brain cancer and integrative oncology outcomes (they’ve received extensive funding for the latter, apparently, and her study is completely pointless) – we’re talking $3 million to do an observational study with no control; there is a good discussion of integrative oncology here – and developing research programs on the use of IV Resveratrol and IV Curcumin to treat cancer. She is also e.g. “co-principal investigator for the Bastyr/UW Oncomycology [oh, yes] Translational Research Center”. Standish has also tried to demonstrate, in a splendid illustration of tooth fairy science, that one person’s brain can influence the EEG findings of a person who is about 45 feet away, apparently believing that “distant healing” is possible through brain-to-brain “neural energy transmission.” There is a long tradition in naturopathic circles for such investigations. The “research” was apparently NCCAM-funded. (This discussion is useful for context.)

Of course, some of Standish’s credentials might look impressive to the uninformed or those who cannot be bothered to take a deeper look. Naturopathy, of course, is bullshit, and Standish’s list of publications e.g. on her speciality HIV/AIDS include the 20-page chapter on HIV/AIDS in the 199) edition of the Textbook of Natural Medicine (naturopathy's leading textbook), in which recommended treatment includes large doses of beta carotene; vitamin C (see also this) and vitamin E 400; cod liver oil; multivitamin and mineral supplement twice a day; colloidal silver; and a long list of other nonsensical and potentally harmful products, including dozens of worthless homeopathic products such as “homeopathic marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, heroin, amyl nitrate, etc.” (the chapter does note that there is no evidence that naturopathic care has any beneficial effect for HIV positive people, but that doesn’t prevent Standish from promptly providing a long and detailed list of recommendations based on neither plausibility nor evidence). 

Diagnosis: Yes, not only has she wasted her life, career and efforts on nonsense – and the worthless pseudoeducation offered by her institution is hardly free either – Standish is also a serial recipient of public funding. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on Leanna Standish and co. to support quackery by superficially science-sounding motivated reasoning. It’s really a multilayered tragedy.

Hat-tip: Quackwatch

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