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RS92 - Dr. Paul Offit On Believing in Magic

Release date: September 15, 2013

Dr Paul OffitHow has alternative medicine managed to become so mainstream? This episode of Rationally Speaking features Dr. Paul Offit, award-winning specialist in vaccines, immunology and pediatrics, and author of popular books such as "Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine." Julia and Massimo interview Dr. Offit about the fight against alternative medicine, why it's still unregulated, and whether or not to tell patients about placebos.

Paul A. Offit is an American pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology. He is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine that has been credited with saving hundreds of lives every day. Offit is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He has been a member of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Offit is also a Founding Board Member of the Autism Science Foundation.

Paul's pick: "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer"


Reader Comments (4)

Wakefield said that nothing can convince him that vaccines don't cause autism? *gasp* And what would convince Offit that vaccines do cause autism?

Offit should debate Steven Novella about the ethics of prescribing placebos, and what it does to informed consent. He sure seemed upset when he was prescribed a placebo.

Dietary supplements by definition can't guarantee that their ingredients are as labeled? What about the USP Verified ones?
Dietary supplements are not regulated? Yet a Vitamin D supplement can't be advertised as preventing Vitamin D deficiency, because disease claims are prohibited.

Medical guidelines are reliable because they change often, even if it means they often do more harm than good?

It should be easy to test whether the efficacy of acupuncture comes from the rituals and interactions rather than the needles: compare acupuncture without rituals to acupuncture with the rituals.

The one ethical placebo medicine I can think of is hypnosis, which doesn't pretend to be anything more than suggestion.

September 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMax
When he calls Chiropractic, Chiropractry, one wonders how much research did he do before condemning it.
August 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermichaelb
Sad to learn many people prefer a nonsensical but certain answer over a reasonable but uncertain answer.

The RDA for most vitamins and minerals probably significantly exceeds the daily intake that a normal healthy individual actually needs. Thus taking the RDA helps to guarantee even unhealthy individuals or individuals with absorption difficulties plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Surprising to hear Dr. Offit recommend antioxidant nutrients as helpful since your body already manufactures tremendously strong antioxidant biochemicals.

The News Media should view itself as having a fiduciary duty to find and report the truth, not just an economic interest in reporting entertaining stories.
January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
About acupuncture, that is really not what I heard, apparently neither of the patient nor the doctor know if the needles are going in or not. It all happens inside the tube.
January 19, 2018 | Unregistered Commentertripmania

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