Category: Science and Medicine

Checklists and Culture in Medicine

Surgeon and journalist, Atul Gawande, is getting quite a bit of deserved press and blog attention for his new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. The premise of his book is simple – checklists are an effective...

/ February 10, 2010

Yes, Jacqueline: EBM ought to be Synonymous with SBM

“Ridiculing RCTs and EBM” Last week Val Jones posted a short piece on her BetterHealth blog in which she expressed her appreciation for a well-known spoof that had appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2003: Parachute use to prevent...

/ February 5, 2010

Study shows antidepressants useless for mild to moderate depression? Not exactly.

As Harriet Hall has written (https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=353), psychiatry bashing is a popular media sport. There seems to be a bias against treatment of psychiatric disabilities, and a common claim is that antidepressants are no better than placebo. The New York Times...

/ February 4, 2010

The Lancet retracts Andrew Wakefield’s article

In 1998 Andrew Wakefield and 11 other co-authors published a study with the unremarkable title: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Such a title would hardly grab a science journalist’s attention, but the small study sparked...

/ February 3, 2010

Success in the fight against childhood diarrhea

Rotavirus is the world’s most common cause of severe childhood diarrhea.  In the U.S. alone, rotavirus disease leads to around 70,000 hospitalizations, 3/4 million ER visits, and nearly half-a-million doctor office visits yearly.  But it rarely causes death. The same...

/ February 1, 2010

Reflexive doubt

Those of us who study, practice and write about medicine cherish the hope that explaining the science behind medicine (or the lack of science behind “alternative” treatments) will promote a better understanding of medicine. Certainly, I would not bother to...

/ January 28, 2010

Evolution in Medicine

A recent series of article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) discusses the role of evolutionary biology in modern medicine. The authors collectively make a forceful point – medicine is an applied science. It is based...

/ January 27, 2010

On the “individualization” of treatments in “alternative medicine”

One of the claims most frequently made by “alternative medicine” advocates regarding why alt-med is supposedly superior (or at least equal) to “conventional” medicine and should not be dismissed, regardless of how scientifically improbable any individual alt-med modality may be,...

/ January 25, 2010

You can’t hide in the herd

Can you hide in the herd?  Well, I suppose the title has given away the punch line. Herd immunity is a fascinating effect, and one of the mainstays of a public vaccination effort.  The idea is that if enough people...

/ January 22, 2010

Big Placebo says Medicine never cures anything

Kudos to Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise for coining a new appellation “Big Placebo.” Big Placebo is the alternative health counterpart to Big Pharma. Both are special interest groups designed to promote their products, whether they are worthy of promotion or...

/ January 21, 2010