Category: Book & movie reviews

Uncertainty in Medicine

Medicine is an uncertain business. It is an applied science, applying the results of basic science knowledge and clinical studies to patients who are individuals with differing heredity, environment, and history. It is commonly assumed that modern science-based doctors know what they are doing, but quite often they don’t know for certain. Different doctors interpret the same evidence differently; there is uncertainty...

/ May 24, 2016
Tribeca Film Festival

VAXXED and the Tribeca Film Festival: How Robert De Niro learned the hard way about Andrew Wakefield and the antivaccine movement

Disgraced antivaccine doctor, Andrew Wakefield, managed to pull another fast one. His antivaccine propaganda film, VAXXED, was mysteriously accepted for a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival. It turns out that TFF co-founder Robert De Niro had pulled some strings. The well-deserved backlash provides yet another example of how Andrew Wakefield discredits everything he touches.

/ March 28, 2016

The Essential Role of Regulation In Human Health and In Ecology: The Serengeti Rules

The doubling time for E.coli bacteria is 20 minutes. With uncontrolled growth, it would take a mere two days for the weight of bacteria to equal the weight of the Earth. What rules determine the actual numbers of bacteria? Why is the world green; why don’t insects eat all the leaves? How does the body maintain homeostasis? What determines the uncontrolled growth...

/ March 1, 2016
Galileo's middle finger large

Persecution of Scientists Whose Findings Are Perceived As Politically Incorrect

Alice Dreger has written a delightful, breezy, and slightly terrifying book on activism gone bad, and how it impacted scientists just trying to uncover facts and truth. Highly recommended!

/ February 16, 2016
cure

Cure Is About Caring, Not Curing: Placebos, Alternative Medicine, and Patient Comfort

In a recent post, Dr. Gorski criticized two articles by Jo Marchant on placebos and alternative medicine. He mentioned that she had a book coming out and suggested I might want to review it. The title is Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body. I don’t know of any evidence that the mind has ever cured a disease, so...

/ January 26, 2016

Neurotribes: A Better Understanding of Autism

What is autism? What causes it? Is it genetic? Is it a consequence of something in our environment or lifestyle? What’s an “idiot savant” or an “autistic savant”? What happens when autistic children become adults? Why are so many of their parents scientists, academics, and engineers? If your grandfather’s Uncle Fred was a socially inept inventor with a lot of strange quirks,...

/ December 22, 2015

Is Addiction a Disease? Yes and No

Addiction is a puzzling phenomenon. Why do addicts persist in self-destructive behavior even after it has lost them their jobs, their family, their health, and their self-respect? Do they have any control over their behavior? If so, why don’t they control it? If not, why not? Two recent books shed light on these questions: The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not...

/ December 1, 2015
The Truth About Cancer

“The Truth About Cancer” Series Is Untruthful About Cancer

Ty Bollinger has produced a video series he calls The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest. It's about as huge a misnomer as can be imagined.

/ November 17, 2015
This book won't cure your cancer

This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer, But It Will Help You Think More Clearly About It

Gideon Burrows has an inoperable brain cancer that is slow growing but is inevitably going to kill him. He has written a remarkable book about his experience, This Book Won’t Cure Your Cancer. A professional wordsmith, he is able to describe his experience of illness so vividly that the reader enters into his life, feels what he feels, and shares his suspense...

/ November 10, 2015
human_neutrophil_ingesting_mrsa-immune-cell

Immunity: More Than Just Antibodies and Vaccines

Since I graduated from medical school, new scientific developments in immunology have been occurring at a prodigious rate. I knew I could use a refresher course, and serendipity dropped one in my mailbox in the form of a review copy of the new book Immunity, by William E. Paul, MD, chief of the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy...

/ October 27, 2015