Results for: non-specific effects

EMDR and Acupuncture – Selling Non-specific Effects

The scientific approach to understanding the world includes the process of carefully separating out variables and effects. Experiments, in fact, are designed specifically to control for variables. This can be especially challenging in medicine, since the body is a complex and variable system and there are always numerous factors at play. We often characterize the many variables that can influence the outcome...

/ March 30, 2011

Homeopathy and the Selling of Nonspecific Effects

One of the core features of science (and therefore science-based medicine) is to precisely identify and control for variables, so that we know what, exactly, is exerting an effect. The classic example of this principle at work is the Hawthorne effect. The term refers to a series of studies performed between 1924 and 1932 at the Hawthorne Works. The studies examined whether...

/ November 17, 2010

Placebo Effects Revisited

In the Wall Street Journal last week was a particularly bad article by Melinda Beck about acupuncture. While there was token skepticism (by Edzard Ernst, of course, who is the media’s go-to expert for CAM), the article credulously reported the marketing hype of acupuncture proponents. Toward the end of the article Beck admits that “some critics” claim that acupuncture provides nothing more...

/ March 24, 2010

Placebo Myths Debunked

Placebo treatments are often sold as magical mind-over-matter healing effects, but they are mostly just illusions and non-specific effects.

/ November 15, 2017

The benefits of the measles vaccine go beyond just protecting against measles, 2019 edition

It's indisputable that vaccines protect against specific infectious diseases. What's less well known is how a vaccine like the measles vaccine protects against more than just measles.

/ February 11, 2019

Psychological Placebos

New research shows the importance of carefully separating real therapeutic effects from psychological placebos.

/ February 6, 2019

A Nuanced View on Breast vs Formula

While there is strong evidence that breast is best, a new study suggests that the benefits have been overstated, and may be mostly due to non-specific factors such as better education and overall health care.

/ September 26, 2018

Facilitated Communication Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Facilitated communication is pure pseudoscience that was debunked almost 30 years ago, but it keeps coming back, creating new victims.

/ March 14, 2018

Is Mindfulness Meditation Science-Based?

Existing research has not yet clearly defined what mindfulness is and what effect it has. The hype clearly has gone beyond the science, and more rigorous research is needed to determine what specific effects there are, if any.

/ October 18, 2017

Can mind-body practices “reprogram” our DNA?

A recent systematic review has been touted as demonstrating that "mind-body" practices like yoga can reprogram our DNA. There are several reasons to doubt these claims, not the least of which is the history of bias in past studies on this topic.

/ June 26, 2017