Thursday, September 29, 2022

#2571: Christian Bogner

Christian Bogner is a board-certified OB/GYN and until recently medical director of the Oxford Recovery Center, a dangerous quack institution where he ostensibly specializes in autism, autoimmune disease, and gastrointestinal issues – something that would strike a careful reader as being rather far removed from his area of specialization. The Oxford Recovery Center’s autism services’ ARTS programs, an integrative approach the center claims can lead to recovery, was created and run by Casey Diskin, a convicted felon with fake credentials stolen from a certified behavioral analyst – something the the center was aware of for a long time but did not do anything about since that’s the kind of organization we are talking about (“As an organization founded by Christians, we believe in forgiveness and redemption”, said ORC’s CEO Tami Peterson, obviously failing to recognize the lack of credentials issue). Bogner, in fairness, resigned from his position there in 2021. Currently, he seems to be promoting the nebulous quackery known as functional medicine.


Bogner has his own ideas about autism, and they are not based on reality, evidence or reason. Believing that autism is a neuroinflammatory condition, Bogner is opposed to any pharmaceutical intervention, championing instead a plant-based diet, hyberbaric oxygen chambers and unproven and dangerous stem cell therapies. And Bogner doesn’t treat just autism; he treats almost everything that his customers are willing to pay him to treat, including chronic Lyme disease. He is also antivaccine (an advocate for ‘vaccine choice’), being a regular speaker at the antivaccine quackfest AutismOne and author of antivaccine Letters to the Editor like ‘Vaccines are a choice not a mandate’. In particular, Bogner claims that adjuvants (like aluminum) plus heavy metals in vaccines activate the microglia, which purportedly causes inflammation and autism. It doesn’t, if reality is your standard, but it isn’t Bogner’s. Apparently glyphosate is involved, too, as is aborted fetal cells in vaccines. Yes, Bogner is that kind of practitioner.


Bogner is most famous, however, for his pseudoscientific ramblings in favor of phytocannabinoid (marijuana)  therapies for autism. Now, medical marijuana has become something of a new herbalism, a complete and largely (though not fully) pseudoscientific edifice with little root in actual evidence (for a good discussion, see this). The evidence for marijuana therapies for autism is more or less nil (there is evidence for using medical marijuana for spasticity and pain, which is largely irrelevant but which advocates of cannabis for autism often refer to since some children with autism also suffer from seizures). Advocates have claimed “peer reviewed evidence that cannabis not only has the potential to provide palliative relief of symptoms related to autism, but may also have the potential to target the underlying causes of autism itself,” but the “peer reviewed” evidence in question in that quote is merely a blog post, ‘The Endocannabinoid System as it Relates to Autism’, published on the Cannabis for Autism blog written by Bogner and Joe Stone. And the reason it is not a peer-reviewed published article is rather obvious if one looks at it: Apart from some amazing cherry-picking forays, they’ve got anecdotes (mostly about epilepsy), some potential correlations and lots of imaginative extrapolations from preclinical cell culture and animal studies and studies that address other conditions, to conclude that cannabinoids are efficacious treating autism. They do not address the lack of actual clinical trial evidence. The current state of evidence on marijuana for neurological disorders is discussed here (from 2015, but the situation remains generally sordid, and on autism there’s still really nothing that rises above the level of shoddy-borderlining-on-scientific-misconduct).


And no, Bogner did not attend medical school at Cornell, but in Poznan.


Diagnosis: Pseudoscience and crackpottery, yes, and with the usual yet remarkable opportunism and cynicism associated with the kind of business in which Bogner is involved. A shitty person. Avoid.


  1. Bother "is opposed to pharmaceutical intervention but instead championing a plant based diet"?
    Why not?
    CDC admits autism numbers are trending down and getting worse, from 1/150 in 2000 to 1/44 in 2022, showing that big pharma has no answer! But one thing big pharma is good at. Like the accusation against Bogner, they will " treat almost everything that customers are willing to pay for " and as profits prove, they are very good at it!

    1. Presenting "facts" to NightTrain is like trying to educate a corpse!

  2. I have no illusions about your reading and research skills, BP8, but it still sort of amazes me that you drop by here and repeats - apparently with a straight face - the myth of the autism epidemic.

    But for those who might have missed it: there is no autism epidemic. (There is, though, something that can perhaps be called an autism diagnosis epidemic - on top of changed diagnostic criteria and improved diagnostic practices.)

    And no, big pharma doesn't have "an answer" to something that is almost certainly a genetic condition. Of course they don't. And they don't, as opposed to Bogner, claim to have an answer. Plant-based diets are not going to affect genetic conditions, BP8, and if you think they will, it reflects some rather interesting misunderstandings.

    1. A June 29, 2010 article posted on, "Pharmaceutical Companies set their sights on Autism" shows that big pharma does indeed consider autism to be a potential cash cow, and now, 12 years later, have developed several symptom treatments they consider promising. Of course we don't know "almost certainly" what causes autism so let's just use the catchall "genetics" to cover all the bases, much like we are starting to use climate change as a blanket for many other problems we have no answers for. Very convenient!

      I have no misunderstandings here! The old adage "follow the money" still produces many interesting conclusions!

    2. Goal-post moving is fun! Above, your claim was that Big Pharma couldn't cure or prevent autism (that is the implication when you cite autism prevalence as evidence for Big Pharma's failures). But yes, there are symptom treatments.

      And yes: do follow the money. That's a good idea. But *you apply that principle only very selectively*, BP8 - you fail, in particular, to apply it to people like Bogner, or Big Organic, or astroturf wingnut campaigns. The rest of us, on the other hand, apply it consistently: Big Pharma is shit, but *as opposed to Bogner* they are also constrained by legal and public accountability: pushing unsafe products or claims not supported by evidence, will tend to land them in serious trouble down the road. By contrast, organic companies, anti-vaxxers, quack bloggers with semi-hidden Miranda warnings, or astroturf campaigns, don't usually face any such constraints.

      If you did follow the money, BP8, the only available conclusion is that Big Pharma is cynical shit, but at least there mechanisms in place that make it in their best self-interest not to push egregious lies and unsafe or non-efficacious products, whereas Bogner and is ilk face no similar constraints and should thus be avoided at all costs.

    3. GD, you've used the accountability argument before but all I see is business as usual, big pharma getting richer and politicians claiming to crack down on price gouging and corruption. There is no real accountability or oversight. Sure there are a few fines dished out, but that's the politicians covering their own ass, not for our benefit!

    4. No one is claiming that it works perfectly, or even particularly well. And no one has claimed that *politicians* are particularly effective at oversight. The legal system is a somewhat different matter, however: You may have heard about quite a number of legal cases over products that have turned out not to be as safe or efficacious as suggested, right? And not the least: to achieve FDA approval you actually have to do the work and conduct serious studies ... and the legal fallout from shortcuts there usually(!) backfires. Badly. Lots of Big Pharma products never make it to the market.

      No one is trying to whitewash Big Pharma. The important point is *the comparison*: Altmed, a multi-billion dollar industry (Boiron is as big as other pharmaceutical companies), by avoiding the FDA completely and being sufficiently vague in their marketing (easy enough), enjoys *no* oversight or accountability. No altmed product fails to make it to the market, for there is no mechanism to stop it. It's the same greed, but with *no* restrictions or external motivation whatsoever to do it right.

      You can lament the status of school medicine all you want. What's undeniable, however, is that the altmed industry is far worse, both at a big business level and at an individual practitioner level.

    5. Comparisons are fine if you're using the proper yardstick. My yardstick is, who's killing the most people?? I think we all know that answer!

    6. So what's your defense of people like Bogner, again?

      I would certainly take issue with the yardstick, too - surely a better yardstick would at least be "number of people killed *minus number of people saved*" (*total suffering* would be even more relevant than death, I suppose). Are you seriously suggesting that school medicine has made us worse off with regard to health now than we were 150 years ago?

      But more importantly: How, exactly, are you applying your yardstick to the specific claims e.g. Bogner is making? His antivaccine rants, for instance: Do you, after applying your yardstick, really end up defending them? Or the practices of the Oxford Recovery Center? Or his claims about cannabis? Or the false claim that autism is a neuroinflammatory condition? How does application of your yardstick end up with a defense of Bogner? Or what is your yardstick supposed to do here?

      I can't help but conclude that your yardstick use is nothing but a tu quoque "shortcomings in aerodynamic testing in the aircraft industry means that flying carpets work" fallacy. That Big Pharma is bad doesn't mean that its competitors are any good.

  3. I'm not a fan of Bogner and really don't know much about him. I do know we haven't had 150 years to see if his ideas work or not! What we DO have is a system that, when challenged, pronounces everything and everybody not in it's mainstream confines as wing nuts and conspiracy theorists. There's money at stake here man! Wake up!

  4. "Testing, evidence, integrity, ethics"?

    How do all these noble and honourable concepts fit into the opioid crisis? Even though it has already been admitted to by the appropriate powers you would approve of, I encourage your readers to research this again and discover for themselves who the responsible parties were in this fiasco and how it all came about. It's very enlightening. There's plenty of blame to go around!
    I know you're not a big Bible fan, but you have to admit, it does contain a few jewels: " The love of money is the root of all evil"!

    1. Note that I ascribed those qualities to researchers. What were the medical researchers' role in the opioid crisis, you think?

      Nor do I doubt that doctors - in general - do their best with the information they have (don't conflate MDs with medical researchers - MDs are professionals, not scientists). A major driver of the opioid crisis, however, is of course that *patients* want the drugs, and given how the system is set up (MD shopping and so on) it turns out to be hard to prevent access to them - its partially the same reasons quacks flourish in the US. Remember: most of the drugs in question would not have caused trouble if used as directed and distributed in accordance with what the evidence suggested - and the opioids *work*, and they are safe if used in accordance with what research suggest.

      And yes: there were cynical pharmaceutical companies behind the crisis, and it is catching up to them. No one was ever claiming that the pharmaceutical companies are benign. That there are checks and balances in place don't mean that big companies won't try to circumvent them. Fortunately, it seems to be catching up to them.

      But how do you think the opioid crisis translates into any assessment of the practice of quacks and science deniers? (Or for that matter to other medical practices: it's not like there's any potential to exploit most drugs or vaccines by relying on people not using them as directed or in accordance with the evidence.)

      In any case, the opioid crisis shows why we need restrictions. People like Bogner, naturopaths and pharmaceutical companies should be prevented from pushing stuff in conflict with what research suggests about safety and efficacy. Don't you agree?