March 29, 1930|
May 25, 2015 (aged 85)|
Los Altos, California
Wallace Sampson (March 29, 1930 – May 25, 2015) was an American medical doctor and consumer advocate against alternative medicine and other fraud schemes. He was an authority in numerous medical fields, including oncology, hematology, and pathology. He was Emeritus Professor of Clinical Medicine at Stanford University. He was the former Head of Medical Oncology at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and a member of the faculty at the Skeptic's Toolbox 1998 - 2008.
Wallace Sampson was an international expert in exposing pseudoscience-based fraudulent schemes in medicine and other fields, such as alternative medicine, integrative medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and chiropractic. He publicized the expression "antiscience" to refer to the basis of belief in alternative medicine in his title for a peer reviewed paper published by the New York Academy of Sciences - "Antiscience Trends in the Rise of the 'Alternative Medicine' Movement". He taught the Stanford University School of Medicine Alternative Medicine course regarding "unscientific medical systems and aberrant medical claims". The San Francisco Chronicle quotes him as saying "We've looked into most of the practices and, biochemically or physically, their supposed effects lie somewhere between highly improbable and impossible."
He was a founding editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, former Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council against Health Fraud, former Chair of the State of California Cancer Advisory Council (advisory board on health fraud schemes), and consulted on medical fraud and other fraud schemes for the Medical Board of California, Association of State Medical Boards, California State Attorney General, US Postal Service, multiple district attorneys, and multiple insurance companies. Sampson has published numerous academic papers in various medical fields, as well as popular works including for the Saturday Evening Post. He was also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). In April 2011 the executive council of CSI selected Sampson for inclusion in the CSI Pantheon of Skeptics. The Pantheon of Skeptics was created by CSI to remember the legacy of deceased fellows of CSI and their contributions to the cause of scientific skepticism.
In a eulogy for Sampson, friend Harriet Hall wrote that she owes her own career in skepticism to Sampson. He is the person that encouraged her to write about pseudoscience topics, and learn how to evaluate claims. She had met him at the Skeptic's Toolbox where he was a part of the faculty. When he decided to step down from that lecture position she was the person who was asked to replace him. Hall reports that Sampson first became interested in writing about skepticism topics when his patients kept asking about using Laetrile to treat cancer. He researched the topic and found that it was a bogus claim.
Publications on alternative medicine and other fraud schemes
The Need for Educational Reform in Teaching about Alternative Therapies
"The Need for Educational Reform in Teaching about Alternative Therapies" was published in 2001 in Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. In this peer reviewed article, Sampson defines complimentary and alternative medicine as "anomalous practices for which claims of efficacy are either unproved or disproved". He points to data that the attitude of medical schools has become unscientific in its approach to medicine, using political correctness and cultural sensitivity as standards replacing empirical evidence, in the spirit of cultural diversity replacing empirical evidence, or so as not to hurt anyone's feelings about their unwarranted beliefs being untested and scientifically implausible, or outright false according to empirical evidence. Claims of CAM treatments are often taught in a way that discourages testing them or even questioning them.
Antiscience Trends in the Rise of the "Alternative Medicine" Movement
Antiscience Trends in the Rise of the "Alternative Medicine" Movement was published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2006. In it, Sampson defines the basis of alternative medicine as being "anti-science", a faith-based belief in supernatural forces being involved in efficacy of alternative medicine treatments, or as their efficacy not being verifiable or testable by empirical means.
- "Wallace Sampson 1930-2015". San Jose Mercury News. May 30, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
- Antiscience Trends in the Rise of the 'Alternative Medicine' Movement, Wallace Sampson, 17 DEC 2006, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 
- SFGate: Healthy Doubts, Wallace Sampson - Alternative medicine doesn't exist and acupuncture is useless, he says, Reyhan Harmanci, SF Chronicle, August 31, 2006, 
- Closer to the Truth, Wallace Sampson, Physician, Consumer Health Advocate, Public Broadcasting System, 
- Wallace Sampson, Science Based Medicine
- Traditional Medicine and Pseudoscience in China: A Report of the Second CSICOP Delegation, Special Report, Barry L. Beyerstein and Wallace Sampson, Center for Inquiry, Volume 20.4, July / August 1996
- "CSI Fellows and Staff". Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- "The Pantheon of Skeptics". CSI. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Archived from the original on 31 January 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Hall, Harriet. "Physician Wallace Sampson, Expert on False Medical Claims, Dies at Eighty-Five". CSI. Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- The Need for Educational Reform in Teaching about Alternative Therapies, Sampson, Wallace MD, Academic Medicine, Journal of the Association of Medical Colleges, March 2001 - Volume 76 - Issue 3 - p 248-250