All posts by Steven Novella

Founder and currently Executive Editor of Science-Based Medicine Steven Novella, MD is an academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is also the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, and the author of the NeuroLogicaBlog, a daily blog that covers news and issues in neuroscience, but also general science, scientific skepticism, philosophy of science, critical thinking, and the intersection of science with the media and society. Dr. Novella also contributes every Sunday to The Rogues Gallery, the official blog of the SGU.

The PIED Piper of Nootropics

Nootropics are an emerging class of drugs that are designed to enhance cognitive function. They are part of a broader category of drugs known as performance and image enhancing drugs (PIED) which are used for enhancement of memory and cognition, sexual performance, athletic performance or musculature (also called “lifestyle” drugs). It will probably come as no surprise to regular readers of SBM...

/ May 20, 2015

HPV Vaccine Compliance

There are few home-runs in medicine. Most of our choices have some sort of trade-off – drugs have side effects, interventions have risks, and many treatments have marginal benefits. Sometimes, however, medical science hits one out of the park and develops a treatment that is safe, effective, cost effective, and convenient. Any dispassionate view of the evidence can only lead to one...

/ May 13, 2015

Vitamins and Cancer Risk

Vitamins have been promoted as a general panacea, as well as a means of preventing cancer. In reality, high doses of vitamins may even cause cancer.

/ May 6, 2015

Pepsi Removing Aspartame

Pepsi has announced that it will remove aspartame from its formulation of diet Pepsi products in the US this year. Apparently this is a reaction to a 5% drop in the sales of Pepsi. Seth Kaufman, vice-president of Pepsi, said “Aspartame is the number one reason consumers are dropping diet soda.” This move comes in the same week that Chipotle announced it...

/ April 29, 2015

Still No Association Between MMR and Autism

A new study published this week in JAMA, “Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism”, puts one more nail in the claim that the MMR is associated with autism. You may wonder why, after years and multiple studies showing no association between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) there would...

/ April 22, 2015

WHO Statement on Reporting Clinical Trials

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released a new position statement on mandatory reporting of all interventional clinical trials. This is a positive step in the trend towards higher quality and greater transparency in clinical trials. The underlying ethical concept here is that the public has a right to data that results from experimentation on humans. The researchers do not ethically...

/ April 15, 2015

Wikipedia vs Quackery – Standards vs Chaos

Wikipedia, an online open-source encyclopedia, can boast 470 million visitors each month, making it one of the most popular websites on the internet. It is an incredibly useful resource – I think it’s fair to say it is the online reference of record. For that reason people care how topics important to them are represented in Wikipedia. Wikipedia, in fact, has become...

/ April 8, 2015

Update on the Tobinick Lawsuit

Last year Edward Tobinick sued the Society for Science-Based Medicine, SGU Productions (the producers of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast), Yale University, and me personally for libel and (of all things) false advertising. I am frequently asked how the suit is going so here is an update. Background The lawsuit involved an article I wrote on Science-Based Medicine on May...

/ April 1, 2015

What Is Brain Death?

Of course, any story illustrating the issues surrounding brain death is going to be a sad and tragic tale. In December of 2013, Jahi McMath suffered bleeding complications following a tonsillectomy and tissue removal for sleep apnea. This resulted in a cardiac arrest with an apparent prolonged period of lack of blood flow to the brain. While her heart function was brought...

/ March 25, 2015

Making One’s Own Reality – Food Babe Edition

The default mode of human activity is to construct our own internal model of reality based upon our desires, biases, flawed perceptions, memories, and reasoning, and received narratives from the culture in which we live. That model of reality is then reinforced by confirmation bias and jealously defended. But we also have the capacity to transcend this pathway of least resistance. Philosophy...

/ March 18, 2015