Category: Science and Medicine

Placebos in the news again

Towards the end of last week, I was contemplating what I would be writing about for Monday. No topic had quite floated my boat, but I hated to dip into the archive of topics I’ve written about before to update a post. After all, I like to be topical whenever possible. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear (yes, I know...

/ October 27, 2008

Is There a Placebo Effect for Animals?

One of the occasional arguments used in support of “alternative” approaches to human medicine is the observation that since “alternative” medicine is used (with anecdotal success) in animals, and animals don’t know anything about the treatment that they’re getting, then they must work a priori.  Of course, the fallacy of such an observation is pretty obvious to anyone with a logical/skeptical frame...

/ October 25, 2008

When Further Research Is NOT Warranted: The “Wisdom of Crowds” Fallacy

Most scientific research studies have at least one thing in common: the conclusion section ends with, “further research is warranted.” I’d say it’s about as common as the “talk to your doctor” disclaimer in TV ads for pharmaceutical products. And in a way, they both serve the same purpose. They’re a “CYA” move. What does “further research is warranted” mean in plain...

/ October 23, 2008

Interpreting the Medical Literature

The science in science-based medicine includes all of science, but relies most heavily on the biomedical literature – published studies that collectively represent our scientific medical knowledge. The scientific basis of medicine is only as good as this body of knowledge and the manner in which it is interpreted and put into practice. We often discuss on this blog how to evaluate...

/ October 22, 2008

A New Twist for Autism: A Bogus “Biomedical” Board

Here’s a short addition to the topic of Pseudomedical Pseudoprofessional Organizations (PPOs).† New pseudo-board-certification schemes pop up like mushrooms after a spring rain, but just last week there was an announcement of one with a difference: The American Medical Autism Board AMAB offers the first of its kind board/diplomate certification program for medical doctors specializing in biomedical treatment of autism and related disorders. These...

/ October 17, 2008

The Pseudomedical Pseudoprofessional Organization (PPO*)

(*Not to be confused with “Preferred Provider Organization,” which shares the acronym) This is part of an ongoing series† discussing pitfalls of regulating physicians, but I’ve decided, in the interest of flexibility, to vary the title. A couple of weeks ago I gave some examples of how individual physicians practicing substandard, implausible medicine manage to avoid or delay being disciplined by state medical boards. I...

/ October 17, 2008

Getting It On with Homeopathy

I have more thoughts on the homeopathy matter than fit in follow-up notes, so here goes. First, David Gorski recalls the 1994 Pediatrics report on childhood diarrhea treated with tailored homeopathic remedies for each patient. There is more to the story than has been written. I am certain much of this will get back to the authors, but others may benefit from...

/ October 16, 2008

Disintegrating Integrative Medicine: Lessons From Baking

Suppose I were to bake you a cake and my ingredient list included the following: Eggs Milk Butter Sand Flour Baking Powder Vanilla Melamine Sugar Chocolate icing What is the problem with the ingredient list? It has integrated inedible and poisonous items into the very fine basic ingredients that make a good cake. This is the exact same problem that the medical...

/ October 16, 2008

A natural product of his environment

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join this outstanding group of medical professional bloggers in adding my natural products angle to the application of science-based medicine.  With the exception of Dr. Gorski, who holds MD and PhD degrees, I believe I am the first “only a PhD” to be invited to SBM.  However, I have spent much of my career training,...

/ October 14, 2008

Is there no end to unscientific treatments for autism?

OK, it’s true that I’m only scheduled to post every other week or so, but I couldn’t resist sharing this one with you (which I’ve cross-posted over at denialism blog).  I promise to get back to my assigned schedule after this one.  Thanks for your indulgence.  –PalMD If you’ve been a regular reader of SBM or denialism blog, you know that plausibility...

/ October 14, 2008