Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

by Paul A. Offit


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Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul A. Offit

In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.

An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062222961
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Pages: 322
Sales rank: 350,330
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Paul A. Offit, M.D., is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as the acclaimed author of Autism's False Prophets, Vaccinated, and Deadly Choices.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Taking a Look at Alternative Medicine 1

Introduction: Saving Joey Hofbauer 7

Part I Distrust of Modern Medicine

1 Rediscovering the Past: Mehmet Oz and His Superstars 25

Part II The Lure of All Things Natural

2 The Vitamin Craze: Linus Pauling's Ironic Legacy 47

Part III Little Supplement Makers Versus Big Pharma

3 The Supplement Industry Gets a Free Pass: Neutering the FDA 65

4 Fifty-One Thousand New Supplements: Which Ones Work? 94

Part IV When the Stars Shine on Alternative Medicine

5 Menopause and Aging: Suzanne Somers Weighs In 111

6 Autism's Pied Piper: Jenny McCarthy's Crusade 128

7 Chronic Lyme Disease: The Blumenthal Affair 140

Part V The Hope Business

8 Curing Cancer: Steve Jobs, Shark Cartilage, Coffee Enemas, and More 163

9 Sick Children, Desperate Parents: Stanislaw Burzynski's Urine Cure 173

Part VI Charismatic Healers Are Hard to Resist

10 Magic Potions in the Twenty-First Century: Rashid Buttar and the Lure of Personality 197

Part VII Why Some Alternative Therapies Really Do Work

11 The Remarkably Powerful, Highly Underrated Placebo Response 223

12 When Alternative Medicine Becomes Quackery 241

Epilogue: Albert Schweitzer and the Witch Doctor: A Parable 253

Acknowledgments 257

Notes 259

Selected Bibliography 297

Index 307

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Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the third book I have read by Dr. Offit. A few years ago I read "Autism's False Prophets," which I also highly recommend. I read that book because I have an autistic son and I am very skeptical of the "cures" for autism promoted by Jenny McCarthy and others. Dr. Offit writes in a matter that is quite easy to read but still manages to explain the value of science based medicine. "Autism's False Prophets" helped me confirm what I had already suspected. We have steered clear of the scientifically unproven treatments for our son and have relied on proven therapies (ABA, specifically) and our son is much better off. In "Do You Believe In Magic," Dr. Offit addresses the $32 Billion-dollar-per-year "supplemental" and "alternative" medicine industry. What is quite interesting is that Dr. Offit writes about some of his own frustrations with modern medicine and has empathy for those who seek better health through vitamins, supplements and so forth. But he also brings to light the how dangerously unregulated  this industry is. In fact, only .3%, or less than one out of every 300 supplements are tested for safety end effectiveness. I would also add that the comments made by the one who refers to Dr. Offit as a "shill for allopathic (mainstream) mediicine" were obviously written by someone who has not read this book. If you are a consumer and are concerned about the safety and quality of vitamins or supplements, it is worth your while to read this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting book - I am sure the "alternative medicine " crowd will come out and vilify the author and his message - which is there are only two kinds of medicine: that which works, that which does not work, ( I would add: that for which the jury is still out. In any event - "alternative medicine is generally unregulated, non-proven, and not subject to the same scrutiny as the medical science we rely on to help us - - when it can. And often it can't. Of course, the alt med believers tend to think "big" Pharma and "big" Medicine have some sort of nefarious objective - which is to keep us kill us all. How sad for them to go through life with such an intellectually lazy viewpoint. I doubt the person below has actually read the book., but I would remind them that the plural of anecdote is NOT data. Enjoy the book! I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth reading. I learned a lot about the vitamin/supplement industry, and also some historical aspects of B17 were new to me. Definitely a book I want to read at least one more time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Offit tells it like it is. He uses sound, evidence backed science to show the POTENTIAL dangers of unregulated supplement industries and unfounded pseudo medical practices that pull billions of dollars from uninformed, misguided Americans (and other nationalities) every year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TRyan2 More than 1 year ago
As other reviewers have stated, Offit does not accurately portray everything that he discusses.  When Offit says (on page 5) that multivitamins can be dangerous, he is simply trying to mislead people with such absurd  statements.  Considering all of the money that he has received from Merck, one would hope that he would  be grateful for that and not act deviantly.   Obviously that is not the case.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the worst kind of rubbish, lies and distortions by Dr. Paul "For Profit" Offit who makes millions of dollors each year from Merck and his own vaccine patents. He is against natural medicine because it actually makes people well without side-effects. Big Pharma is really afraid that intelligent people will be able to heal themselves. Don't waste your time or money on this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main problem with this book is that Offit paints a one-sided, distorted picture of the situation. Many of his anti-vitamin claims are proven scientific falsehoods and have been refuted (google/bing "2 Big Lies: No Vitamin Benefits & Supplements Are Very Dangerous"). You are supposed to believe that he gives you the facts, due to his medical status, but -apart from very few exceptions- all you get is misinformation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Offit is a shill for allopathic (mainstream) medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. Of course he is going to do his best to discredit any and all forms of alternative medicine. It is a well known fact, and if you do the research you will see, that mainstream medicine and pharmaceuticals cause thousands upon thousands of more adverse effects and deaths than all the vitamins and supplements combined. They are much much more harmful than any vitamin or supplement. This book is nothing more than propaganda for the mainstream medical community who are trying to do damage control because so many people are sick and tired of being filled with poisonous drugs that do way more harm than good. Sorry Doc... ain't buying the bull. Dr. Offit (who has been nicknamed Dr. Vaccine by the media due to his statement that an INFANT could withstand 100,000 vaccines all at once) is trying to legally take away your right to access your vitamin supplements and wants them regulated like drugs. Wake up people... Big Pharma has a goal... to have every man, woman and child on prescription drugs. Oh.. and yes I DO believe in Magic... I am almost 60, have taken vitamins and supplements my entire life, stayed away from Drs. and hosptials, and never take prescription drugs.. and am in perfect health!