Category: Science and the Media

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
Test tubes screening test

Why False Positive Results Are So Common In Medicine

Have you ever been surprised and confused by what seem to be conflicting results from scientific research? Have you ever secretly wondered if the medical profession is comprised of neurotic individuals who change their mind more frequently than you change your clothes? Well, I can understand why you’d feel that way because the public is constantly barraged with mixed health messages. But why...

/ July 23, 2009

Are one in three breast cancers really overdiagnosed and overtreated?

Screening for disease is a real pain. I was reminded of this by the publication of a study in BMJ the very day of the Science-Based Medicine Conference a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, between The Amaz!ng Meeting and other activities, I was too busy to give this study the attention it deserved last Monday. Given the media coverage of the...

/ July 20, 2009
maoforbiddencity

“Acupuncture Anesthesia”: a Proclamation from Chairman Mao (Part IV)

The Cultural Revolution After investigating ‘acupuncture anesthesia’ in the People’s Republic of China in 1973, John Bonica wrote: From the guarded comments made by several anesthesiologists, I concluded that this disuse [of ‘acupuncture anesthesia,’ after its introduction in 1958 until the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution began in 1966] was the result of disappointing failures in a significant proportion of patients. During the...

/ June 26, 2009

Is translational research impaired by an emphasis on basic science?

Sharon Begley, the Science Editor for Newsweek, wrote about translational research in the latest issue, and the tone of the essay reminded me of Begley’s previous piece on comparative-effectiveness research. Being an MD/PhD student (just defended!) I am very interested in the process of communicating “from bench to bedside.” New to science as I may be, I found Begley’s arguments to be overly...

/ June 12, 2009

Politics as Ususal

POLITICS. We have a tacit understanding to exclude politics from the blog, but current events are pushing the borders.  It’s not our fault, other forces are on the move. At the border last year was the Iraqi civilian body count issue precipitated by articles in The Lancet. That’s when politics intrudes into medical research and literature. Other borders are matters of licensure, and...

/ June 11, 2009