Category: Critical Thinking

What Whole Foods Markets Doesn’t Tell You

Whole Foods Market is a relentlessly hip American supermarket chain which prides itself on organic fruits and vegetables, gluten-free just-about-everything, and high-end touches like wine bars and exotic take out items (roasted yucca, anyone?). The health products aisle is stocked with Bach Flower and homeopathic remedies. For example, in-house brand Flu Ease: “an established homeopathic formula that should be taken at the...

/ April 17, 2014

Amber Waves of Woo

As a pediatrician I have an opportunity to observe a wide variety of unusual and sometimes alarming parental efforts meant to help children through illness or keep them well. I have recently noticed one particular intervention that seems to be becoming more prevalent, at least in my practice. I’ve begun to see more and more infants sporting Baltic amber teething necklaces. These...

/ April 11, 2014

Agnotology: The Study of Ignorance

A comment from the blog: Every single time – bar none – I have had a conversation with someone about CAM and its modalities, they are absolutely astonished when I explain to them what the modality really is. One story I love telling comes from my friend in the year behind me. His parents are professional chemists and he came home one...

/ March 21, 2014

How to Think

Robert Todd Carroll, the author of The Skeptic’s Dictionary, has a new book out: The Critical Thinker’s Dictionary: Biases, Fallacies, and Illusion and what you can do about them. Since some of our commenters and most of the CAM advocates we critique are constantly committing logical fallacies, a survey of logical fallacies is a good idea both for us and for them,...

/ February 11, 2014

Food for Thought

I am excited to tell you about a wonderful new endeavor that is helping to promote critical thinking about science and medicine. It’s a free online course on “Food for Thought” that offers a scientific framework for understanding food and its impact on health and society from past to present. The “Food for Thought” course is a product of EdX, which offers...

/ February 4, 2014

Tribalism and Medical Ethics

Science is intended to discover the “is”, not the “ought;” facts, not values. Science can’t tell us whether an action is moral; it can only provide evidence to help inform moral decisions. For instance, some people who believe abortion is immoral reject birth control methods that prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum on the grounds that it constitutes abortion; science can determine...

/ January 14, 2014

Acupuncture Whac-a-Mole ™

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana Most people don’t have that willingness to break bad habits. They have a lot of excuses and they continue to produce bad clinical studies. – Carlos Santana (Well, not the last 4 words.) One is a guitar player, one is a philosopher. I get them confused. I think...

/ January 10, 2014

Science-based medicine throughout time

As 2013 comes to a close, because this probably will be my last post of 2013 (unless, of course, something comes up that I can’t resist blogging about before my next turn a week from now), I had thought of doing one of those cheesy end-of-year lists related to the topic of science-based medicine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with anything I...

/ December 30, 2013

The Nuances of Informed Consent

Modern medical ethics are built upon the concept of informed consent. This is not, however, as straightforward a concept as it may seem. Physicians and health care providers have a duty to provide informed consent to their patients or their patients’ guardians, which means that they have to inform them appropriately about the risks and benefits of their recommendations and interventions. This...

/ November 13, 2013

Survey Says… Infectious Disease Docs and CAM

Surveys are evidently a popular way to get a paper published. Put “complementary alternative medicine survey” into Pubmed and get 2,353 hits. I would have trouble coming up with a hundred groups about whom I would be interested in their use of SCAMs, but I tend to be a lumper rather than a splitter. But if you want to know about SCAM...

/ August 23, 2013