Category: Book & movie reviews

Ken Burns Presents Cancer

Note: I wrote two posts today to alert readers to two upcoming television events in time for them to plan their viewing. See the second post for an announcement about a film on scientology, along with an article about Scientology’s War on Medicine that I wrote for Skeptic magazine. Ken Burns has made a lot of outstanding films. His The Civil War...

/ March 24, 2015

Scientology’s War on Medicine

Note: The film Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief will be available on HBO starting March 29th. I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently it profiles former members who reveal details that have elicited a very angry response from the Church of Scientology. I thought I would use the occasion to reprint a SkepDoc column that originally appeared in Skeptic...

/ March 24, 2015
The Brain

Mind Over Matter: The Brain’s Way of Healing

In 2008 I wrote about neuroplasticity as presented in Norman Doidge’s book The Brain That Changes Itself. I urge you to click on the link and read what I wrote there before you continue. The science is fascinating. The brain is far more malleable than we once thought. Areas of the cortex devoted to a sensory input shrink when that input is...

/ March 10, 2015

Facing Decline and Death

Note: Atul Gawande and his book will be featured on a Frontline episode airing on PBS tonight. We’re all going to die. (There’s nothing like starting on a positive note! 🙂 ) We’re all going to die, and if we are fortunate enough to survive long enough to become old, we’re all going to experience a decline of one sort or another...

/ February 10, 2015

A Scientist in Wonderland

Edzard Ernst is one of those rare people who dare to question their own beliefs, look at the evidence without bias, and change their minds. He went from practicing alternative medicine to questioning it, to researching it, to becoming its most prolific critic. I have long admired his work, and I finally met him in person when we were invited to speak...

/ February 3, 2015

The Marvelous Dr. Mütter

The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia has a marvelous collection of human bones, surgical specimens, monsters in jars, and medical memorabilia. It holds attractions for everyone, from the jaded medical professionals who thought they’d seen it all to the coveys of youngsters who compete to point out the grossest items to their friends, from the student of history to the connoisseur of the...

/ December 23, 2014

Pesticides: Just How Bad Are They?

I think everyone would agree that it would not be a good idea to put pesticides in a saltshaker and add them to our food at the table. But there is little agreement when it comes to their use in agriculture. How much gets into our food? What are the effects on our health? On the environment? Is there a safer alternative?...

/ December 9, 2014

Mirror Neurons and the Pitfalls of Brain Research

[Ed. Note: I realize that I normally post on Monday, but thanks to an R21 grant deadline tomorrow, I will not be able to post new material today (although you might have noticed some “familiar” material posted yesterday.) Harriet has graciously agreed to cover for me today, and we have a special guest post for you tomorrow. Fear not. I’ll soon be...

/ October 27, 2014

An Overly Pessimistic View of Medicine

Sandeep Jauhar wrote Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician to express his frustration with the modern system of medical care in America. I found the book profoundly disturbing. If his experience is representative, I can understand why so many people have been criticizing doctors for only caring about money. His experience was so different from mine that I wondered if I...

/ October 21, 2014

Does the Movie Fed Up Make Sense?

The 2014 film Fed Up is an advocacy documentary. Its message: There is a worldwide epidemic of obesity. It is endangering our children. Increased sugar consumption is responsible. The food industry is responsible for our increased sugar consumption because it puts hidden sugar in processed foods, bombards us with advertising, favors profits over health, and lobbies against regulation. The government is responsible...

/ October 14, 2014