San Francisco Chronicle

Wallace I. Sampson, MD


Founding Fellow
Board of Directors (Emeritus)


Los Altos, California, USA



“The political takeover in the US by alternative medicine is an organized invasion
of pseudoscience into the scientific edifice of medicine. It is pervasive, surreptitious, and purposeful.
It is not a conspiracy; it is simply the way people act in groups.”
Wallace Sampson, MD, is a prominent and highly respected defender of science in health care education and practice. He is perhaps best known today as the founding editor of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and for his numerous appearances on PBS specials.

In 1972, Dr Sampson first became alarmed about cancer patients turning to Laetrile.  Thereafter, he became expert at dissecting the false medical claims of practices such as acupuncture, chelation, homeopathy, and “functional medicine.” 

Among Dr Sampson’s wide interests is a concern over the adoption of implausible and unvalidated practices into medical school curricula.  In 1979, as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr Sampson formed the first medical school course in “holistic medicine,” now a course in analyzing false claims, with an emphasis on so-called “alternative medicine.”

Dr Sampson graduated with an MD from the University of California, San Francisco, and went on to practice as a hematologist-oncologist.  From 1991 to 1997, he headed the Division of Oncology at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose.  From there, he founded The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.  He has also served as Chairman of the Cancer Advisory Council for the State of California and board member for the National Council Against Health Fraud.


Selected Publications
:

  • “Studying herbal remedies,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2005 Jul 28; 353(4):337-339.  [Abstract]
  • “Analysis of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Report on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States (January 12, 2005),” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2005 Spring-Summer; 9(1):.
  • Scientific reviews of medical journals,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2004-05 Fall/Winter; 9(2):.
  • “The foolish enterprise of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2003;7(1):5-8.
  • Why the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) should be defunded,” Quackwatch, 2002 Dec 10.
  • EDTA chelation therapy for atherosclerosis and degenerative diseases:  implausibility and paradoxical oxidant effects” (with S Green), Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2002 Winter; 6(1):.
  • “Book review of Lying for Fun and Profit: The Truth about the Media, by Kurt Butler,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2001 Spring; 5(2):.
  • The need for educational reform in teaching about alternative therapies,” Academic Medicine, 2001 Mar; 76(3):248-250.
  • “Are systematic reviews and meta-analyses sufficient as well as necessary for assessing the medical effectiveness of prayer?” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2000 Fall/Winter; 4(2):.
  • “Postmodern medicine,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 2000 Spring/Summer; 4(1):.
  • Chinese acupuncture for heart surgery anesthesia” (with GP Posner), Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1999 Fall-Winter; 3(2):.
  • The braid of the alternative medicine movement,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine,1998 Fall-Winter; 2(2):4-11.
  • “The DiBella controversy: The universality of popular delusion,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1998 Fall-Winter; 2 (2).
  • “On the National Institute of Drug Abuse Consensus Conference on Acupuncture,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1998 Spring-Summer; 2(1):.
  • “On being a critic,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1998 Spring-Summer; 2(1).
  • The pharmacology of chelation therapy,” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1997 Fall-Winter; 1(1):.
  • “Why a new alternative medicine journal?” Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1997 Fall-Winter; 1(1):.

Selected Books:
book cover
Science Meets Alternative Medicine: What the Evidence Says About Unconventional Treatments, editor with Lewis Vaughn (Prometheus Books, 2000). This anthology of research articles by reputable scientists is dedicated exclusively to the careful scrutiny of the claims of alternative medicine. Using scientific and rational criteria, well-respected scientists and physicians review available evidence for therapeutic claims, critique published studies, present original research, and discuss the methods and principles of valid research. Among the topics covered are the origins of alternative medicine and current trends; the theories and therapies of Andrew Weil, naturopathy, therapeutic touch, and colloidal silver treatment; the psychological dimensions of belief in unconventional treatments; and the ethics of promoting unproven treatments.


Selected Presentations:

  • SkeptiCal, Berkeley, 2010 Apr 24.
  • Fifth World Skeptics Congress, Abano Terme, Italy, 2004 Oct 8-10. [extract]
  • “Error and misinterpretations in alternative medicine research,” Oregonians for Science and Reason, 1998 Aug 24.

Television:

Testing Acupuncture, 2007



Podcasts & Webcasts:


Selected News:


The Online Wallace Sampson:

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