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.

Acupuncture-korean

Acupuncture Doesn’t Work

About a year ago the editors of Anesthesia & Analgesia solicited a written debate on whether or not acupuncture is effective or simply an elaborate placebo. Four experienced acupuncture researchers agreed to write the pro-acupuncture article, Wang, Harris, Lin and Gan. They asked David Colquhoun to write the con position, and David asked me to write it with him (which, of course,...

/ June 19, 2013

Don’t Text and Drive

We accept certain risks for the benefits of modern society. We pump explosive gas into homes, we run wires with potentially fatal electrical currents through our neighborhoods, and we ski at breakneck speeds down mountains for fun. We also allow people to operate vehicles weighing thousands of pounds at speeds that are potentially deadly if a mishap occurs. In 2011 there were...

/ June 12, 2013

Gyrostim and the Infrastructure of Quackery

It’s frustrating to read yet another story of the process of developing a potential new medical treatment derailed by the current infrastructure of quackery that we have in this and other countries. This is one of the unmeasurable harms that results when pseudoscience is given regulatory, academic, and professional legitimacy. The press then celebrates the nonsense that results. The basic story is...

/ June 5, 2013

Patient Participation in Decision-Making

“Patient-Centered” decision-making is a new buzz-word in medicine. It is a metaphor for a general approach to care that puts the patient’s experience and needs at the center, as opposed to the needs of the physician or the system. While this is an effective marketing term, and a useful principle as far as it goes, as a guide to medical practice it...

/ May 29, 2013
DSM-5_&_DSM-IV-TR

DSM-5 and the Fight for the Heart of Psychiatry

The new DSM is out, what are people saying about it?

/ May 22, 2013

Will Your Smartphone Become a Tricorder?

The Star Trek universe is a fairly optimistic vision of the future. It’s what we would like it to be – an adventure fueled by advanced technology. In the world of Star Trek technology makes life better and causes few problems. One of the most iconic examples of Star Trek technology is the medical tricorder. What doctor has not fantasized about walking...

/ May 15, 2013

Enbrel for Stroke and Alzheimer’s

A recent article in the LA times tells of a husband’s quest to find a treatment for his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease. This is a narrative that journalists know and love—the brave patient or loved-one who won’t accept the nihilism of the medical establishment, who finds a maverick doctor willing to buck the system. The article itself at least was not gushing, it...

/ May 8, 2013

Politics of Public Research Funding

A great deal of science is funded by the US government. The total research funding for 2009 was 54.8 billion dollars (much more if you include all R&D). A breakdown by agency of total R&D shows that the NIH (National Institutes for Health) funding is 28.5 billion while the NSF (National Science Foundation) is 4.1 billion. There is general agreement that this expenditure is...

/ May 1, 2013

Science-Based Public Service Announcements

Changing behavior is difficult. It is also an increasing priority for health care. We have entered a period of history when lifestyle choices have a dominant impact on health and longevity. People are no longer dying young of incurable infectious diseases in significant numbers. Rather they are surviving long enough to die from their bad habits. Further, health behaviors are having a...

/ April 24, 2013

Does Brain Training Work?

Websites such as Luminosity.com make some bold promises about the effectiveness of computer-based brain-training programs. The site claims: “Harness your brain’s neuroplasticity and train your way to a brighter life” “Your brain’s abilities are unique. That’s why your Personalized Training Program adapts to fit your brain and your life goals.” “Just 10 hours of Lumosity training can create drastic improvements. Track your...

/ April 17, 2013