Paramedic, Science Advocate
Michael is an advanced care paramedic in the Greater Toronto Area, and a co-founder and chair of the board at Bad Science Watch, a national science-advocacy organisation. Michael is also studying human physiology and the history of science at the University of Toronto.
Despite the cool rhetoric from the Ontario Professional Fire Fighter's Association (OPFFA), this proposal for members to prove "symptom relief" medications is an obvious attempt by the association to defend the jobs of its members by edging in on the work of paramedics. The animosity that is building between Fire and EMS places job security ahead of patient safety.
The information war over vaccination is an obvious reflection of this fear. Public health has had its hands full during this war, but has failed to really counter the misinformation in vaccine hesitant communities. We are in desperate need for a new message, and a group of high school students from California have made one in a most spectacular way. Despite the myth-makers, the spin addicts, and the conspiracy nuts, cigarette use has gone down, climate science has become even more exact, and vaccines have been shown to be both safe and effective.
05/02/2014 08:44 EDT
This week, the Royal Society of Canada released a report by their Expert Panel on Safety Code 6. Safety Code 6 is the Health Canada standard that sets recommended exposure limits for radio-frequencies. "More research is needed" is a misunderstood phrase in the public form and needs some discussion, as does the findings of the RSC's new report.
04/04/2014 05:46 EDT
I hope that on Monday a majority of MPs vote in favour of Elizabeth's May lyme disease bill, but I want to clarify a point that she ignored in my last blog: we should trumpet science over emotions in this debate. I hope that Monday a majority of MPs vote in favour of passing this bill. We need to identify the scope of the problem, and disease like this need a national strategy. I just hope that we can put the emotions aside and turn toward the science, otherwise we are doomed to be victims of ideology, and we have a responsibility to do better than that: paramedics and politicians alike.
03/02/2014 01:24 EST
CLD should be considered in the same category as IEI-EMF or electro-hypersensitivity, or multiple-chemical sensitivity: they are not recognized diseases and other causes for these symptoms should be sought. Instead, to treat CLD a potentially dangerous protocol using very protracted courses of antibiotics that has shown to make no difference beyond placebo is used.
02/23/2014 01:52 EST
Finally we have Wylde's first suggestion, the one that made me believe it is just sitting in his kitchen making this up out of thin air. There is absolutely no evidence adding petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose will increase your infection barrier and prevent infection. Your nose is much larger than just the nostril you can stick the swab into, so there will be plenty of area left to harbour virus.
02/06/2014 11:57 EST
The debate over the licensing of dubious products by Health Canada heated up over the weekend this week with an article suggesting that Health Canada's continued approval of bogus homeopathic "nosodes" may be adding to the increased incidence of measles in Canada. The details behind these claims are not only true, but way more shocking than we could have expected.
09/10/2013 12:16 EDT
Once more, Frank Clegg and the B.C.-based Citizens for Safe Technology (C4ST) have shown that they will not let science get in the way of scaring children and families. This past Tuesday, the start of school for most Ontario children, C4ST was positioned outside of a school in Mississauga handing out pamphlets warning children and parents of the dangers of a new policy the Peel School Board has.
09/04/2013 05:47 EDT
One thing I find myself doing on a daily basis in my job as a paramedic is telling stories. Not only is it a way of relaying information about my patients when transferring care to another health car...
08/26/2013 12:51 EDT
A new petition has surfaced concerning the scope of practice of Naturopaths in Ontario. The Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) is collecting signatures to support a rather vague demand that the Ontario health minister, Deb Mathews, ensure that naturopathic doctors (NDs) are allowed to "maintain effective continuous care" of their patients and while insisting that naturopathic therapies are "scientifically proven." The larger question is, do Naturopaths have what it takes to be primary care doctors in Ontario? The evidence suggests quite strongly that they do not.
08/18/2013 11:16 EDT
While it is understandable that the public is interested in the ongoing story of why ASD patients have so many problems with their gut and diet, we cannot leap beyond the conclusions from one study and overgeneralise. This study, like any good science, leaves us with more questions than answers
07/10/2013 04:45 EDT
Medicine can be tricky. Patients never present with the perfect cluster of disease-defining symptoms. As a patient, waiting for a diagnosis can be frustrating and fraught with anxiety. If you do not have a standard presentation of the symptoms, or the symptoms are so varied that they overlap with many other disease conditions, it is difficult to characterize an illness as a specific disease.
07/03/2013 05:05 EDT
A few weeks ago, my post on the anti-vaccination bias in the alternative medical community raised the ire of some readers when I suggested that chiropractors have been culpable in the spread of dangourous anti-vax rhetoric. In Canada, at least, it appears we were both right.
05/15/2013 05:47 EDT
It's National Immunization Awareness Week, and UNICEF is reporting the failure of Canada to achieve the 95 per cent immunization rate required to protect the community. All it takes is one infected person to travel from an area where the disease is rampant to an area at risk, and we will have an outbreak. It is also no wonder that in the wake of actual conspiracies on the part of industry to hide the dangers of smoking, and acid rain or other environmental pollutants, we have a rise of a belief in phantasmal conspiracies from other big corporations.
04/24/2013 08:18 EDT
On April 1 2013, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors and acupuncturists in Ontario will need a license to practice their unique brand of healing. Without a licence you will not be able to diagnose heat stagnation by looking at the tongue. Without a licence you will not be able to discern the state of the organs through the pulse in patient's wrist. Without a licence you will not be able to diagnose a fever caused by the wind, or needle the meridians of the body to unblock stagnant Qi. I feel safer already. We are faced with one striking dilemma, however: what responsibility does the state have to its citizens when they seek help from non-traditional sources?
03/20/2013 05:34 EDT
If a company is selling an herb-based drug that they claim cures your cancer, then this is considered a high-risk claim and they must submit high-order evidence. If they do not want to go through this hassle all they have to do to get the drug approved is make a very general health claim; "supports immune-system health" for example.
02/13/2013 12:30 EST
This week we celebrate Darwin's birthday and the publishing of the "Great Book" as it is known in biology, On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. But in the United States, there continue to be assaults on the ability of education to keep out erroneous questioning of evolution at the middle and high school levels.
02/13/2013 08:21 EST
While the safety and efficacy of vaccines for childhood infectious diseases is very well established, doubt continues to be sown among well-meaning parents. We need to demand that our government stop speaking out of one side of its mouth about the importance of the modern, science-based immunization schedule, while with the other side approving the sale of useless homeopathic hokum to be promoted as an ineffective alternative. If we do not, we risk a return of deadly childhood diseases like the 100-day cough of pertussis or the deadly, paralytic polio.
01/17/2013 12:08 EST
Dr. Oz, "America's Doctor," burns my biscuits. Recently, he and homeopath Bryce Wylde offered up what they consider to be the next revolutionary anti-aging super-food: red palm fruit oil. Red palm oil does look like a promising dietary supplement, but the miraculous anti-aging promises by Oz and Wylde never materialize in the data. We just don't have the evidence yet.
01/10/2013 12:14 EST
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