Monday, November 30, 2009

Skepticality #116

Skepticality this week featured an interview by Swoopy of Dr. William Mueller, author of “Evolution Rx".  The book explores how our evolution continues to influence what the best methods are for modern humans to maintain health and treat disease.  It is an interesting thought experiment, and while I rarely think of it, an interesting tool to measure and guide what is the best medical treatment.  I would not mind reading the book, if I can find it on Amazon for a decent price, or if I ever received a Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, or Apple would ever come out with its elusive iPad. 

However, I did find the interview frustrating to a degree.  I believe I tracked the problem down to the interviewer.  Do not misunderstand me, Swoopy did a fine interview, but I would have preferred an interview conducted by a medical doctor such as Dr. Novella (The Skeptics Guide) or Dr. Dunlop (The Skeptic Zone).  This is not a criticism of Swoopy as she was prepared as always, and moved the interview along nicely.  I am not sure a non-medical practitioner has the vast knowledge to ask the right question about some of his propositions.  It is not that I think Mueller is some kind a quack, but for example he was proposing women take the latest generation of birth control pills that all but halt menses.  The idea is that this will reduce female reproductive related cancers.  This seems to be a rather radical approach.  It may well be correct, but I would like to hear another physician push him on his thought process.     

Keeping in mind that I have not read the book, from the interview, Mueller seemed at times to skirt the edge of “follow my program you’ll experience a fuller, happier, healthier lifestyle.”  Granted he was not pitching a miracle pill or foot pad cure, but he did seem rather convinced that keeping in mind how and under what conditions humans evolved was the key to future medical success.  I just am not convinced that one necessarily follows the other.  I do not have the knowledge base to ask real probing questions.

I found the interview intriguing, but I would enjoy hearing Mueller interviewed by skeptical minded physician.  Mueller’s positions may have some flaws in it, it’s being oversold, or he really is onto something.  Swoopy indicated that he might return to discuss his ideas in regard to mental health in the not too distant future.  A special guest appearance by Dr. Harriet Hall or another member of science based medicine might be nice.  At this point, I am intrigued by his ideas, but would like his ideas to be pushed a bit more to come up with an opinion.  Swoopy did a commendable interview, and it is well worth the listen.  

Side note: Swoopy gave out a bit of personal information on the show.  The listener learns that she has an autoimmune disorder that causes her to avoid the sun for fear of rashes. (All I could think is “it’s lupus” as if I were on an episode of “House, M.D.,”), she has sinus problems that she treats with a neti pot, and I believe she uses the above mentioned birth control pills to limit her menses.  It is a lot of personal info to learn and know about a favored podcaster. 


  1. I received an email from Dr. Harriet Hall requesting that I post a link to her review of Dr. Mueller's book for Science Based Medicine. (There is a technical issue with Dr. Hall's ability to post.)

    I thank Dr. Hall for reading.

  2. Kicking in the heads of atheists one at a time...

    PZ, I thought the Morris Police Department was going to save you from the wrath of God...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.