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.

Pharmacists Selling Snakeoil

Edzard Ernst published an excellent editorial today addressing the question of why pharmacists sell bogus products. Our own resident pharmacist, Scott Gavura, expressed similar points here on SBM a year ago. Their points are worth emphasizing and expanding upon. Professional ethics The explicit premise of both editorials is that pharmacists, like physicians, are health care professionals. Being a professional means adhering to...

/ July 20, 2016

Thinking With Your Emotions About Medicine

The mental pathway of least resistance, what psychologists often refer to as the “default mode” of human thought, is to go with our “gut feelings.” We evolved emotions, heuristics, and cognitive biases partly so that we could make quick judgments that are good enough and err on the side of survival. This can be adaptive – if we smell something rotten we...

/ July 13, 2016
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New Study Questions fMRI Validity

One way to describe our overall editorial stance at SBM is that we are criticizing medical science in a constructive way because we would like to see higher standards more generally applied. Science is complex, medical science especially so because it deals with people who are complex and unique. Getting it right is hard and so we need to take a very...

/ July 6, 2016

Australia’s New Antiscience Party

In a perfect world, high quality science would inform politics and policy. Science cannot determine policy by itself because there are also value judgments and trade-offs that need to be negotiated. At the least, however, policy should be consistent with the best available science. We, of course, don’t live in a perfect world. Too often politics and ideology seem to inform, or...

/ June 29, 2016
The Brain

MEND Protocol For Alzheimer’s Disease

The medical profession is currently engaged in a simmering debate about what is the best overall approach to take toward the relationship between science and health care. I would say that the current dominant model is Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM). We, of course, advocate for a number of tweaks to EBM we call Science-Based Medicine (SBM). SBM essentially advocates for an ironic-sounding holistic...

/ June 22, 2016

AMA Decides Gun Violence is a Public Health Issue

On June 14th the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates in Chicago, IL voted almost unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting the idea that gun violence is a public health issue. The resolution also called for lobbying Congress to eliminate the ban on research into the causes of gun violence. The AMA reports: “With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying...

/ June 15, 2016

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Snake Oil

Noel Edmonds is a game show host, famous for Britain’s version of Deal or No Deal. As far as I can tell, he has no medical or scientific qualifications at all. This unfortunately has not stopped him from using his celebrity status to offer dubious medical advice via his Twitter feed. Such is the world in which we live. Edmonds tweeted, referring...

/ June 8, 2016

PET Scans Predict Coma Outcome

A new study shows that 42 really is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. OK, not really, but it does show that 42% of healthy brain activity is the minimum threshold for consciousness. Disorders of consciousness, also referred to as coma when severe enough, can be a difficult situation to assess sufficiently to make reliable predictions about outcome. Part of...

/ June 1, 2016

Pushback on Chiropractic

From time to time we respond directly to reader comments or e-mails in an article, when it seems that doing so would be a useful teachable moment. One of the strengths of social media is that it is interactive, which can be didactic. I feel it is very important to respond to what people actual believe and say, because otherwise we may...

/ May 25, 2016
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National Academy of Sciences Report on GMOs

Despite the fact that numerous scientific and health organizations around the world have examined the evidence regarding the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and found them to be completely safe, there remains a public controversy on this topic. In fact a Pew Poll found that while 88% of AAAS scientists believe that GMOs are safe for human consumption, only 37% of...

/ May 18, 2016