Category: Science and Medicine

Risks of CAM Treatments for Cancer

“What’s the harm?” is an insidious idea when used as a justification for unscientific medical treatments. The argument is typically put forward with the assumption that direct physical harm is the only type of harm that can result from such treatments, so as long as they aren’t toxic there is no downside to trying them. Harm comes in many forms, however: delayed...

/ December 10, 2014

Outcome Bias in Clinical Decision Making and the Assessment of Our Peers

There are many mental pitfalls and logical stumbling blocks faced by healthcare professionals when attempting to untangle the complex web of patient history and physical exam findings. They can impede our ability to practice high quality medicine at every step in the process, interfering with our ability to establish an accurate diagnosis and to provide comfort or cure. And we are all...

/ December 5, 2014

Homeopaths Threaten Public Health Selling Sugar Pills as Vaccine Alternatives

Alternative medicine is ascendant in Canada. From the dubious remedies that are now stocked by nearly every pharmacy, to the questionable “integrative” medicine at universities, there’s a serious move to embrace treatments and practices that are not backed by credible evidence. Canada’s support for alternative medicine, and for its “integration” into conventional health care is arguably is worse than many other countries....

/ December 4, 2014

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

Steve still happens to be galavanting about Australia, spreading science, skepticism, and, of course, science-based medicine Down Under. Given that, he has been unable to produce new content for today. Never one to let such an opportunity pass, I decided to take advantage in order to do a little shameless self promotion. A week and a half ago, I gave a talk...

/ December 3, 2014

Announcement: The Society for Science-Based Medicine is co-sponsoring NECSS

Steve is off today, so I thought it would be a good idea to use this slot for a little shameless self-promotion (of Science-Based Medicine and the Society for Science-Based Medicine, of course). The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism (April 9-12, 2015 in New York City) will be bigger than ever in 2015 with fabulous presenters, exciting panels, and engaging workshops....

/ November 26, 2014

Selective pressures on alternative medicine

(Editor’s note: I was away at Skepticon over the weekend, where I gave a talk entitled “The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine”. (When the talk’s up on YouTube, I’ll provide a link, of course.) Because of all the fun and travel delays I didn’t get a chance to turn my slides and notes into a blog post yet. Also, I’m on vacation...

/ November 24, 2014

Energy Drinks are Risky, Especially for Kids

Last month I wrote a post on the causes of poor sleep in adolescents, as well as the myriad problems that can result in this high-risk population. Fortunately there is a system-wide public health measure proven to work, and now groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics are fully endorsing it. In that post, I briefly mentioned the increasing popularity of energy...

/ November 21, 2014

Oxygen Myths That Refuse to Die

One of my early forays into the world of pseudoscience was an investigation of “Vitamin O” (the O stands for oxygen). The story is hilarious; please click and read; I guarantee you won’t be able to read it without at least a chuckle. Vitamin O is still for sale; it’s even available on Amazon.com. You can read the manufacturer’s ridiculous rationalizations about...

/ November 11, 2014
Low body temperature! Do you have Wilson's Temperature Syndrome?

Naturopathy vs. Science: Fake Diseases

you consult with a naturopath, you could walk out diagnosed with something called Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. But the naturopath would be wrong, because Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome is a fake disease. One of the hallmarks of alternative medicine is the “fake disease”. Fake diseases don’t actually exist – they are invented without any objective evidence showing that they are real. Fake diseases tend...

/ November 6, 2014

SBM on Wikipedia in Every Language

One of the most interesting aspects of living through the second half of the 20th century and into the first half of the 21st century is the profound change in access to information. I remember in the 1980s there was a buzz (at least among technophiles and science fiction nerds) about how computers were going to be connected in a worldwide network...

/ October 29, 2014