Category: Science and Medicine

How I would run the CAM club

During the past academic year, I have written about CAM on campus for my student newspaper and fancy myself now somewhat notorious among the students who care about the issue. My article in the fall issue was a review of a homeopathy lecture that I described in detail for my first SBM post. In the winter issue I discussed two dueling WSJ opinions and...

/ May 8, 2009

Flu Woo Hodge Podge

Perhaps you have discovered for yourself that I am always the last to write a post on a ‘hot’ topic. I am definitely the slowest writer (and thinker?) on this blog, starting each post at least a week before it is up. So the faster writers weigh in first and I am left with clean up. As I finish writing on Thursday,...

/ May 8, 2009

Georgia on my mind

My inaugural post was about vaccines, and I promised that I wouldn’t write exclusively on this topic. But something rotten is brewing in the state of Georgia and this story is just too important to ignore. The first successful challenge to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act (NCVICA) has taken place in Georgia, and we all should be just a little...

/ May 6, 2009

Lyme disease—who is credible?

I recently had a pleasant, brief email exchange with Kris Newby, the producer of the latest medical advocacy pic, Under Our Skin. There’s been a number of similar movies lately, mostly about quacky cancer therapies. This one is apparently much better made, and follows the controversy regarding “chronic” Lyme disease. I’d heard an interview about the movie on Diane Rehm, and was...

/ May 6, 2009

Harvard Medical School: Veritas for Sale (Part VI)

Loose Ends: Dr. Koh and More After Dr. Federman’s letter and my reply, posted in Part V of this series,† there seemed little point in pursuing the matter further. Although Dr. Federman never answered my reply, he did send, at my request, a copy of Commissioner of Public Health Howard Koh‘s written “construction of the events in the Massachusetts Special Commission.” As you may recall, those events...

/ May 1, 2009

Homeocracy II

This is the second installment analysis of a three (and now 4) part series of articles on effects of homeopathy on childhood diarrhea. This second installment elaborates on our findings on data from the second clinical trial in Nicaragua. (1) I should first explain the title. In order for homeopathy to operate as a base or operating system for medicine “for the 21st...

/ April 30, 2009

The Huffington Post’s War On Science

It is unfortunately a common human reaction to respond to criticism by attacking those leveling the criticism, rather than addressing the points being made. This is especially true if the criticism is legitimate and one cannot reasonably counter it. Substantive criticism is also a central part of the scientific endeavor, and so the culture of science has developed a tolerance for harsh...

/ April 29, 2009

Double-Talk And Paternalism

One of the more frustrating things about practitioners who promote unsafe and scientifically discredited medical practices is their tendency to change their message for different audiences. One day they’ll tell you that they espouse only evidence-based practices and the next they’ll be promoting snake oil. This double talk is hard to combat, since to disprove them one would essentially have to provide...

/ April 23, 2009

Mathematically modeling why quackery persists

It’s often puzzled me (and, I daresay, many other skeptics and boosters of science- and evidence-based medicine) why various forms of quackery and woo that have either about as close to zero prior probability as you can get and/or have failed to show evidence greater than placebo in clinical trials manage to retain so much traction among the public. Think homeopathy. Think...

/ April 20, 2009

Harvard Medical School: Veritas for Sale (Part V)

September 26, 2002 Kimball Atwood, M.D. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Dear Kim, I have now had time to look into the allegations in your letter of June 14th which, incidentally, I shared with Dr. David Eisenberg and he with several others. I have sought consultation about our exchanges and the gist of my response follows. Some of your concerns and allegations are very helpful and...

/ April 17, 2009