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.

Exercise and Memory

There is no escaping the evidence that regular moderate exercise is associated with a host of medical benefits. Among those benefits are perhaps improved memory and cognition, and questionably a decreased risk of developing dementia. The latest study to show this correlation involved younger and older adults who wore a step-monitor. The number of steps they took during the study interval was...

/ November 25, 2015

US Department of Justice Goes After Supplements

It is shaping up to be a good year for those of us advocating more effective regulation of supplements and unproven therapies in the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing its regulation of homeopathy, and recently also announced it is taking public comment on its regulation of the term “natural.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also reviewing the...

/ November 18, 2015

Low Energy Sweeteners and Weight Control

A new systematic review published in the International Journal of Obesity looks at the totality of evidence investigating whether consuming low energy sweeteners (LES), such as aspartame, sucralose, or stevia, is a net benefit or detriment for weight control. In addition to providing some clarity on the answer, the review also provides some insight into how different kinds of evidence address such...

/ November 11, 2015

Information Literacy and the Number Needed to Treat

Increasingly people are accessing healthcare information in order to make decisions for their own health. A 2010 Pew poll found that 80% of internet users will do so for health care information. This presents a huge potential benefit, but also a significant risk. Information literacy Daniel Levitin talks about the need for public information literacy, something we also discuss frequently here on...

/ November 4, 2015
whole body cryotherapy

Whole Body Cryotherapy

Last week a Hawaiian woman living in Las Vegas, Chelsea Ake, was found dead in a cryotherapy chamber where she works. Apparently she was using the chamber unsupervised and accidentally locked herself in or passed out, and was found 10 hours later. Her death, of course, is tragic and we have nothing but sympathy for her and her family. The event, however,...

/ October 28, 2015

Are Placebos Getting Stronger?

A new study looked at clinical trials for neuropathic pain over the last 23 years and found that the response of subjects in the placebo group has been increasing over time, but only in the United States. The cause of this increase is unknown, and has provoked a fascinating discussion about the nature of placebos and their role in medical research. What...

/ October 21, 2015

Whole Body Vibration Therapy

When skeptics hear the term “vibration” a red flag goes up, because that is a common term used in pseudoscientific jargon. Vibrations are often used to refer vaguely to energy or some physical or even spiritual property that cannot be detected, and is used in a hand-waving manner to explain extraordinary claims. Vibrations, however, are also a real thing, referring to physical...

/ October 14, 2015

Open vs Blinded Peer-Review

The overall goal of science-based medicine is to maintain and improve the standard of science in the practice of medicine at every level. At the heart of the scientific basis of medical knowledge and practice is a process known as peer-review. We have occasionally written about peer-review on SBM, and once again the process is under the microscope over a specific question...

/ September 30, 2015

NPR and the False Choice of Alternative Medicine

A recent segment on NPR is an excellent representation of some of the mischief that promotion of unscientific medical treatments can create. The title is a good summary of the problem: “To Curb Pain Without Opioids, Oregon Looks To Alternative Treatments.” The entire segment is premised around a false dichotomy, between excess use of opioids and unproven alternative treatments. It is clear...

/ September 23, 2015

Seneff Claims GMOs Cause Concussions

You read that headline correctly. Stephanie Seneff first came to skeptical attention when she published a study claiming that vaccines were linked to autism. She trolled through the VAERS database and, as David Gorski noted, “tortured the data until it confessed.” Last year she published a paper in which she claimed glyphosate caused autism, claims which I addressed almost a year ago....

/ September 16, 2015