Category: Basic Science

Reverse Ageing Hype

There are a number of annoying clichés of science reporting, prime among them being the need to make a connection from any research to a specific application. It must be deeply embedded in the journalism culture, or written in a handbook somewhere. In medicine this means that any study that involves viruses or the immune system’s ability to fight off infection might...

/ January 1, 2014

5 out of 4 Americans Do Not Understand Statistics

Ed: Doctors say he’s got a 50/50 chance at living. Frank: Well there’s only a 10% chance of that Naked Gun There are several motivations for choosing a topic about which to write. One is to educate others about a topic about which I am expert. Another motivation is amusement; some posts I write solely for the glee I experience in deconstructing...

/ December 13, 2013

Chemotherapy doesn’t work? Not so fast… (A lesson from history)

If there’s one medical treatment that proponents of “alternative medicine” love to hate, it’s chemotherapy. Rants against “poisoning” are a regular staple on “alternative health” websites, usually coupled with insinuations or outright accusations that the only reason oncologists administer chemotherapy is because of the “cancer industrial complex” in which big pharma profits massively from selling chemotherapeutic agents and oncologists and hospitals profit...

/ October 28, 2013
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

A Different Perspective: Placebo, SCAM, and Advertising

Summertime, time, time Child, the living’s easy. Fish are jumping out And the handicap, Lord Handicaps high, Lord so high ~ Janis Joplin It is summer. Time for the kids and the outside, not the computer. What follows is a summertime blog entry, for which I admit to feeling guilty for the comparatively little time I have spent on it, but as...

/ August 9, 2013

Human Sex Determination: Psychic Sperm and the Gambler’s Fallacy…..

Carl Sagan supposedly once said that randomness is clumpy. Those three words have become one of my favorite go-to quotes, particularly when teaching residents and medical students who are often overly impressed with improbable runs of similar diagnoses or exam findings. I love this quote because it is so simple and yet reveals so much about our experience with observing the natural...

/ July 19, 2013

Infant and Toddler Swimming Programs: Are They Safe and Effective?

It’s now officially summertime, but people have been hitting the pools and beaches for weeks in many parts of the nation. In fact it has been well into the 90’s for over two month here in Baton Rouge, which is what I blame for the early exit of LSU from the College World Series. Our boys just weren’t used to that cold and dry northern weather....

/ July 5, 2013
GMO

More bad science in the service of anti-GMO activism

I never used to write much about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before. I still don’t do it that often. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t been on my radar very much. That seems to be changing, however. It’s not because I went seeking this issue out (although I must admit that I first became interested in genetic engineering when I was in...

/ June 17, 2013

People Encouraging Turtle Agony*: Animal Acupuncture

Lest anyone think I am a heartless bastard, I would like it to be known that I do not like to see any creature suffer or die. I am the kind of person who, when finding a spider in the house, is likely to catch it and toss it outside. I always think, “I can’t squish the end result of 6 billion...

/ May 31, 2013

A brief note on killing cancer cells in a dish

I am taking the Memorial Day holiday off. I will return next week (or even earlier if something comes up that I can’t resist blogging about). In the meantime, here’s a general principle that needs to be remembered in cancer research: I would also add to that list: So does bleach. So does acid. So does alkali. So does pouring the media...

/ May 27, 2013

Angelina Jolie, radical strategies for cancer prevention, and genetics denialism

I had been debating whether to blog about Angelina Jolie’s announcement last week in a New York Times editorial entitled My Medical Choice that she had undergone bilateral prophylactic mastectomy because she had been discovered to have a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that is associated with a very high risk of breast cancer. On the one hand, it is my area...

/ May 20, 2013