Category: Science and the Media

Three myths about Stanislaw Burzynski and The Skeptics

As I finished last week’s post, I promised myself that I wouldn’t write about Stanislaw Burzynski again this week. After all, counting this post I will have done 13 posts so far in 2013, and, counting this one, four of them will have been about Burzynski, and three out of the last five posts (three out of four, really, if we eliminate...

/ March 11, 2013

Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s cancer “success” stories update: Why is the release of the Burzynski sequel being delayed?

It’s no secret that I happen to be on several mailing lists of groups or doctors whose dedication to science is—shall we say?—questionable. Of course, the reason I join such mailing lists is to keep my finger on the pulse of pseudoscience, so to speak. Between such lists and strategically selected Google Alerts (the latter of which appear to be failing me...

/ March 4, 2013

Kudos to a Journalist

Many SBM readers will remember the late, great Barry Beyerstein,  a luminary of the skeptical movement and author of a classic article that has been cited many times on SBM, an explanation of why bogus therapies seem to work. One of his greatest personal accomplishments is not as well known: he produced an exceptional daughter, Lindsay Beyerstein, a freelance writer, philosopher, and...

/ February 26, 2013

Blame and magical thinking: The consequences of the autism “biomed” movement

That the myth that vaccines cause autism is indeed nothing more than a myth, a phantom, a delusion unsupported by science is no longer in doubt. In fact, it’s been many years now since it was last taken seriously by real scientists and physicians, as opposed to crank scientists and physicians, who are still selling the myth.  Thanks to them, and a...

/ February 25, 2013

Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s cancer “success” stories

The year 2012 was rung out and the year 2013 will be rung in by news that Eric Merola, propagandist for “brave maverick doctor” Stanislaw Burzynski who claims to have developed a cancer treatment far superior to current conventional science- and evidence-based cancer treatments, is releasing releasing a sequel to his wildly successful documentary (in the “alternative cancer” underground, that is) Burzynski...

/ February 18, 2013
Dr. Oz with Penn and Teller

An open letter to Penn & Teller about their appearance on The Dr. Oz Show

  Dear Penn & Teller, I really don’t want to say this, but I feel obligated to. I’m afraid you screwed up. Big time. (Of course, if this weren’t a generally family-friendly blog, where we rarely go beyond PG-13 language, I’d use a term more like one that Penn would use to describe a massive fail, which, as you might guess, also...

/ February 11, 2013

Are You Ready For the Oz Manifesto

“Medicine is a very religious experience. I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean. You find the arguments that support your data, and it’s my fact versus your fact.” – Mehmet Oz The above...

/ January 30, 2013

One Flu Into the Cuckoo’s Nest*

“I don’t seem able to get it straight in my mind….” ― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Influenza is going gangbusters at the moment. I like going to Google Flu trends as well as the CDC flu site to see what flu is doing. Using Google searches as a surrogate for infections is an interesting technique that public health...

/ January 25, 2013
Commander Yevsey Goldberg conducts an acupuncture procedure.

Systematic Review claims acupuncture as effective as antidepressants: Part 1: Checking the past literature

A recent systematic review in PLOS One raised the question whether acupuncture and other alternative therapies are as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapy for depression. The authors concluded  differences were not seen with psychotherapy compared to antidepressants, alternative therapies [and notably acupuncture] or active intervention controls or put it differently, antidepressants alone and psychotherapy alone are not significantly different from alternative therapies...

/ January 18, 2013
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

The Placebo Narrative

Science journalist Sharon Begley wrote a recent piece in The Saturday Evening Post about Placebo Power. The piece, while generally better than the typical popular writing on placebos, still falls into the standard placebo narrative that is ubiquitous in the mainstream media. The article is virtually identical to a dozen other articles I have read on placebo effects in the popular press,...

/ January 16, 2013