Category: Neuroscience/Mental Health

Antidepressants and Autism

A new study looking at the correlation of antidepressant use during pregnancy and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been making headlines. While the results are likely significant, they are not as worrisome as the headlines may suggest. The study: strengths and weaknesses Overall the study design is solid. They followed 145,456 singleton full-term infants for a total of 904,035.50...

/ December 16, 2015
Electromagnetic wave

“Electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and “wifi allergies”: Bogus diagnoses with tragic real world consequences

"Electromagnetic hypersensitivity" and "wifi allergies" are two names given to a nonexistent medical condition in low energy electromagnetic fields like wifi are blamed for a variety of health conditions. This is a story in which the parents' insistence that their teenage daughter, who had posted threats to commit suicide on social media, had this condition appears to have interfered with seeking mental...

/ December 7, 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

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

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
Second Republican debate

Donald Trump and the dangerous vaccine politics of the 2016 Presidential race

At the second Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump parroted antivaccine pseudoscience, and Ben Carson walked back his previously strong support for vaccine mandates. Earlier in the campaign, Rand Paul blamed vaccines for "neurologic injury," and Chris Christie briefly pandered by questioning vaccine mandates. What's going on here? Is the Republican Party becoming the antivaccine party?

/ September 21, 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

Frontal Lobotomy: Zombies Created by One of Medicine’s Greatest Mistakes

It’s not clear who first quipped “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy,” but it’s not just a joke. Almost anything would be preferable to a frontal lobotomy. It was a barbarous procedure with catastrophic consequences, and yet it was once widely accepted and even earned a Portuguese doctor a Nobel Prize. In the annals of...

/ September 15, 2015
exoskeleton

Helping the Paralyzed Walk

One of our primary goals at SBM is to advocate for high standards of science in medicine. This means that we spend a lot of our time discussing claims and practices that fall short of this standard. This is very useful – exploring exactly why a claim falls short is a great way to understand what the standard should be and why....

/ September 2, 2015

“Hands On Learning Solutions”: Untested Solutions for Problems That May Not Even Exist

Hands On Learning Solutions, a business in Gig Harbor, Washington, evaluates and treats children for learning disabilities and claims to identify the underlying causes and help eliminate the symptoms. Much of what they do is questionable, and at least one of their methods is clearly bogus. Their program is reminiscent of the Brain Balance program that I wrote about in 2010. I’ll...

/ July 21, 2015