Category: Science and Medicine

CFS: Viral vs somatization

If the association is confirmed, the finding will have near-revolutionary implications for our understanding disease – particularly infectious disease. If there is a confirmed model for such a vague set of symptoms signifying some occult infection limited to immune cells, which produces no repeatable cellular or antibody abnormality, no susceptibility to other infections (such as with HIV) and in which the sites...

/ October 14, 2009

Science-based medicine and Eurocentrism

A reader sent me an interesting post from her own blog. It’s well-written, compelling, and betrays an exceptional intelligence. It’s also completely wrong. The piece is called, “Bias, Racism, and Alternative Medicine”, an intriguing title. The first part tries to establish that “Western medicine” in one of many ways of understanding health and disease. She starts with some personal anecdotes—always interesting, rarely...

/ October 13, 2009

Medicine is hard and should be practiced with caution

It’s tempting to think that the practice of medicine should be simple and intuitive.  Unlike other sciences, we all have access to the basic materials—ourselves.  We feel that because we are intimately familiar with our bodies, we know a lot about how they work.  Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.  The biochemical processes walking around in this sack of meat...

/ October 12, 2009

Flu Vaccine Efficacy

I guess I will be spending the rest the flu season writing about the nonsense that is promulgated about the flu vaccine and the disease. One of the more common laments about the flu vaccine is that it doesn’t work: I got the flu vaccine and still got the flu. Well maybe. Maybe not.  It takes a few weeks to get protection, so...

/ October 9, 2009

Monkey business in autism research, part II

Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed something about the anti-vaccine movement. Specifically, I’ve noticed that the mavens of pseudoscience that make up the movement seem to have turned their sights with a vengeance on the Hepatitis B vaccine. The reason for this new tactic, I believe, is fairly obvious. The fact that the Hep B vaccine is administered shortly after...

/ October 8, 2009

Autism Prevalence

Two recent studies concerning the prevalence of autism in the US have been getting a lot of attention, because they indicate that autism prevalence may be higher than previously estimated. This, of course, fuels the debate over whether or not there are environmental triggers of autism. One study was conducted by the CDC but has yet to be published. The results were...

/ October 7, 2009

Petit canard, grand canard

The flu pandemic of 1918 was horrific. Millions of people died (by some estimates 4% of the world’s population), and the medical establishment worked feverishly to find a cause and a treatment. There were many dead-ends in the search for the cause of the flu. One of the most enduring errors was the attribution of the pandemic to a bacterium called Haemophilus...

/ October 5, 2009

The “Iron Rule of Cancer”: The dangerous cancer quackery that is the “German New Medicine”

Given that I trained as a cancer surgeon, do laboratory and translational cancer research, and spend my clinical time taking care of breast cancer patients, not surprisingly one topic that gets me the most irritated and provokes a lot of my verbiage for SBM is cancer quackery. As I was perusing my list of posts the other day, it occurred to me...

/ October 5, 2009

Confusing correlation with causation

These two video explains it better than anything I’ve seen in a long time: That’s right. Vaccines educate the immune system. Use them. I got my flu shot on Thursday.

/ October 3, 2009

Head-In-The-Sand Consumer Affairs

Editor’s Note: Please be aware that Ben is deployed in Iraq right now. What that means is that his Internet access is somewhat sporadic. He will show up from time to time to answer comments, however. ERRARE HUMANUM EST, SED PERSEVERARE DIABOLICUM – To err is human, but to persist diabolical – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC – 65 AD) The...

/ October 2, 2009