Available Now! Flies in the Ointment


Available Now! Flies in the Ointment

Essays on Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (SCAM) by an infectious disease physician.

Find it on Amazon

A carefully selected and edited compendium of the best of Dr. Mark Crislip (the Puswhisperer)’s blog posts from sciencebasedmedicine.org. The sections have been edited for redundancy, updated for 2017, and classified into themes.

Supplements and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (SCAM) can be classified many ways; generally speaking, alternative remedies are:

Possible: mostly botanicals and herbal remedies. There is nothing impossible that a given plant product will affect a given disease, although often the provenance of a given herbal treatment is suspect.

Impossible: the rest of CAM. It will be equally impossible to cover every CAM practice, so just a few are treated in depth.

The book is classified as follows:

What’s the Harm? A general discussion of why SCAM is bad for people, animals, and the environment.

Alt-Facts: Why Scientific Thinking is Hard. A discussion of how and why our powers of logic are often powerless against SCAM.

Counting to Ten: Statistics for the Rest of Us. A somewhat technical section about statistical errors and fallacies, and why interpreting the literature is difficult even for clinicians. A must-read for lovers of math.

Realm of the Possible. A discussion of supplements, including the evolution of my thinking on probiotics.

Rectum? Damn Near Killed ‘Em. Probiotics and the Gut Microbiome

            Herbs and Supplements

Eliminate the Impossible. Impossible treatments, their fallacies and risks.




            Miscellaneous Quack Remedies

Vaccines and Flu Woo. The fallacies behind anti-vaccination beliefs, and why you should always get your flu shot.

About the Author

Mark Crislip, MD has been practicing Infectious Diseases in since 1990. He writes for Medscape, with a popular blog entitled Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor. He is an editor and writer for the Science-Based Medicine blog and the President of the Society for Science-Based Medicine. He is the author of two collections of clinical tales, Puswhisperer and Puswhisperer II.

Pre-release Praise for the Book from NetGalley

“Greatly enjoyed this collection of science-y essays. Crislip crucifies quite a few industries here and in a very entertaining way. The contained essays are written well and the book itself is laid out in an easy to ready format”–Kim Reed

“An important contribution in these days of an anti-science sentiment. This is evidence-based and very cogent material that is written in a very readable way and should contribute to a better understanding of the numerous ways that “magical” treatments can be harmful physically, emotionally and financially.”
–Myron Lezak

“A much needed jump into the bracing waters of clear-thinking, research-based scientific inquiry. The reader will have to enjoy Mr. Crislip’s voice, and have a bit of thick skin when it comes to medical description (I squirmed sometimes, but I make no claims to not being overly-squeamish). Give this to anyone and everyone with a body that may become ill.”
–Vanessa Bedford


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