Category: Science and the Media

“The Disappearing Male” – A Pinch of Science, a Pound of Speculation

A documentary film entitled “The Disappearing Male” was first shown on CBC in June, 2009. It can be viewed online here. Some of its rhetoric is reminiscent of Chicken Little: “Where have all the boys gone?” “Millions of males are disappearing.” “We’re on the Titanic and we see the iceberg but we just can’t turn the ship.” “It may be a threat...

/ September 1, 2009

James Reston’s Tooth of Gold

One of the fathers of critical thinking and skeptical inquiry, the French philosopher Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657–1757) recounts in 1687 in his Histoire des oracles–a debunking book on popular beliefs, myths and superstitions that caused tremendous stir in theological and philosophical circles of his time–a colorful story that could very well illustrate the flurry of interest and research in acupuncture...

/ August 25, 2009

Science versus pseudoscience

I know this one’s been floating around the blogosphere for a while, but it finally made its way to me at a time when I needed something lighthearted and amusing (warning: some profanity and at least one use of the “F” word): Best quotes: “Well, science doesn’t know everything.” Well, science knows it doesn’t know anything, otherwise it would stop … But...

/ August 23, 2009

WooMD

Consider this list: Sex Matters: tuning in to what turns you on. Ticker tune-up tips for guys. Manatomy explained. Burning down under? It’s time to fess up. Pumped Up: ED meds aren’t working? An implant could be the solution. When your hoo-ha’s burning, don’t use this common cure! Go Om: Meditation can be the healthy answer for type A’s. Sexy Seniors: The...

/ August 21, 2009

Science-Based Medicine 101: Reproducibility

So far I have explained why most research (if not carefully designed) will lead to a false positive result. This inherent bias is responsible for many of the illusionary treatment benefits that we hear about so commonly through the media (whether they’re reporting about CAM or Western medicine), because it is their job to relay information in an entertaining way more so...

/ August 20, 2009

New SBM Resource – and a Word on Vaccines

We frequently receive requests from readers, our colleagues in medicine or fellow science bloggers for the best reference site that has all the information they need on a specific topic. There are many excellent resources on the net, but nothing I know of that quite puts it all together in that way – one-stop shopping for up-to-date information on the topics we...

/ August 19, 2009

Needles in the skin cause changes in the brain, but acupuncture still doesn’t work

I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned it on SBM before, but I went to the University of Michigan. In fact, I didn’t go there just for undergraduate studies or medical school, but rather for both, graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry with Honors in 1984 and from medical school in 1988. In my eight years in Ann Arbor, I came to love...

/ August 17, 2009

Science-Based Medicine 101: How To Establish A Source’s Credibility

I thought I’d do a little SBM 101 series for our lay readers. Forgive me if this information is too basic… at least it’s a place to start for those who are budding scientists and critical thinkers. 🙂 *** Which news source do you trust more: The New York Times or The National Enquirer? Which news reporter would you trust more: Charlie...

/ August 6, 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap

Last year Simon Singh wrote a piece for the Guardian that was critical of the modern practice of chiropractic. The core of his complaint was that chiropractors provide services and make claims that are not adequately backed by evidence – they are not evidence-based practitioners. In response to his criticism the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) sued Simon personally for libel. They refused...

/ July 29, 2009
Chairman Mao propaganda poster

‘Acupuncture Anesthesia’ Redux: another Skeptic and an Unfortunate Misportrayal at the NCCAM

A neglected skeptic Near the end of my series* on ‘Acupuncture Anesthesia’, I wrote this: Most Westerners—Michael DeBakey and John Bonica being exceptions—who observed ‘acupuncture anesthesia’ in China during the Cultural Revolution seem to have failed to recognize what was going on right under their noses. I should have added—and I now have—Arthur Taub’s name to that tiny, exceptional group. Taub, a neurologist and...

/ July 24, 2009