Category: Science and Medicine

The Water Cure: Another Example of Self Deception and the “Lone Genius”

A correspondent wrote: I hear all day long on my local radio station commercials for The Water Cure, which was created by a Dr. Batmangelli (I have no idea how to spell his name) promising wonderful cures by eliminating caffeine and alcohol and drinking water and sprinkling sea salt on your food. If you REALLY want to get cured even faster, swim...

/ January 12, 2010

A victory for science-based medicine

The following is a collaborative effort by Peter Lipson, MD, a usual contributor to Science-Based Medicine, and Ames Grawert, JD, a soon-to-be-sworn-in attorney working in New York City. Proponents of science-based medicine have always had one major problem—human beings are natural scientists, but we are also very prone to cognitive mis-steps. When we follow the scientific method we have developed, we succeed...

/ January 7, 2010
HIV-1 budding from a lymphocyte.

The case for neonatal circumcision

Imagine if we could save lives from a dread and often fatal disease simply by performing a minor surgical procedure. People would hail this simple victory and rush to adopt it… Not exactly. The disease is HIV and the simple surgical procedure is circumcision and anti-circ activists oppose it under almost any circumstances. In this month’s edition of the Archives of Pediatrics...

/ January 7, 2010

Acupuncture for Hot Flashes

In the most recent issue of The Journal of clinical Oncology is a study comparing acupuncture to Effexor in the treatment of vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes) in women with breast cancer who cannot take hormone replacement therapy. The study found that the two treatments are equivalent, with longer duration and fewer side effects from acupuncture. However, the study is designed as a...

/ January 6, 2010

The life cycle of translational research

I’m a translational researcher. To those of you who aren’t familiar with what that means, it means (I hope) that I study potential therapies in the lab and try to translate them into actual therapies that will cure patients of breast cancer — or, at the very least, improve their odds of survival or prolong survival when cure is not possible. Translational...

/ January 4, 2010

Causation and Hill’s Criteria

Causation is not so simple to determine as one would think. A mantra at SBM is ‘association is not causation’ and much of the belief in the efficacy of a variety of quack nostrums occurs because improvement occurs after use of a nostrum, therefore improvement occurs because of use of a nostrum. It is why vaccines as a cause of autism are...

/ January 1, 2010

Oppose “Big Floss”; practice alternative dentistry

We survived almost all of human history without it. Yet in the last 100 years people have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by a huge corporate conspiracy into believing that we “need” their products. They cite studies and claim we don’t understand science; they ignore ancient folk wisdom and have no respect for our intuition. They peddle their products without regard to...

/ December 31, 2009
Pills

The “pharma shill” gambit

It's the oldest, laziest trope used by quacks and those who love them. Facing science-based criticism? Obviously, then, your critic must be in the pocket of big pharma! I present...the Pharma Shill Gambit.

/ December 28, 2009

Buteyko Breathing Technique – Nothing to Hyperventilate About

A reader recently sent in a link to a New York Times article that discussed an alternative breathing technique developed in Russia for the treatment of asthma called the Buteyko Method, or the Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT), and asked for an evaluation of the claims on SBM.  This post will attempt to be a reasonably comprehensive evaluation of Buteyko and his therapy...

/ December 25, 2009

2009’s Top 5 Threats To Science In Medicine

As 2009 comes to an end, it seems that everyone is creating year-in-review lists. I thought I’d jump on the list band wagon and offer my purely subjective top 5 threats to rational thought in healthcare and medicine. Of course, it strikes me as rather ironic that we’re having this discussion – who knew that medicine could be divorced from science in...

/ December 24, 2009