Category: Science and the Media

Integrative medicine advocates react to criticisms of the Samuelis’ $200 million gift to UC-Irvine

Last month, Susan and Henry Samueli donated $200 million to the University of California, Irvine to promote integrative medicine. We were pleasantly surprised by the unflattering coverage in the press of the gift. We were unpleasantly unsurprised by the reaction of integrative medicine advocates to the criticism.

/ October 16, 2017

The Pathological Optimist: More hagiography than documentary about Andrew Wakefield

The Pathological Optimist is a recently released documentary by Miranda Bailey about Andrew Wakefield that I got a chance to see. In interviews and in the film's promotional materials, Bailey takes great pains to emphasize that she "doesn't take a side" about Wakefield. Unfortunately, her film demonstrates that, when it comes to pseudoscience, "not taking a side" is taking a side, and...

/ October 9, 2017

The influenza vaccine and miscarriages: Much ado about nothing

A study published on Wednesday claims to have found a link between influenza vaccination and miscarriage, and antivaxers are gloating. The study itself suffers mightily from post hoc subgroup analyses on small numbers, so much so that even its authors don’t really believe its results. None of that stopped them from publishing the study, thus justifying "more research" that will almost certainly...

/ September 15, 2017

IBM’s Watson versus cancer: Hype meets reality

Five years ago, IBM announced that its supercomputer Watson would revolutionize cancer treatment by using its artificial intelligence to digest and distill the thousands of oncology studies published every year plus patient-level data and expert recommendations into treatment recommendation. Last week, a report published by STAT News shows that, years later, IBM's hubris and hype have crashed into reality.

/ September 11, 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop: Another triumph of celebrity pseudoscience and quackery

Earlier this month, the hostilities between Gwyneth Paltrow's den of celebrity pseudoscience and quackery, her "lifestyle" website and store Goop, and skeptics erupted into open warfare, as Goop attacked Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN, blogger, and frequent critic of the pseudoscience published and sold by Goop. This leads to the question: Who are the physicians facilitating Paltrow and Goop? And does debunking...

/ July 24, 2017

Adrenal fatigue: A fake disease (updated)

“Adrenal fatigue” is not a real medical condition, but some claim it is real and that medicine is ignoring it. What does the science say?

/ June 29, 2017

Consumer Reports Misses the Boat on Back Pain

Consumer Reports' recent articles on low back pain address anecdotal customer satisfaction rather than scientific evidence of effectiveness.

/ June 27, 2017

Can mind-body practices “reprogram” our DNA?

A recent systematic review has been touted as demonstrating that "mind-body" practices like yoga can reprogram our DNA. There are several reasons to doubt these claims, not the least of which is the history of bias in past studies on this topic.

/ June 26, 2017

Does society try to shame and shun vaccine refusers and the vaccine-averse?

Antivaxers often complain that they are judged harshly, even shunned. A recent study suggests that, to some extent, they might well be. But are judging, shaming, and shunning parents who refuse to vaccinate their children wrong? More importantly, what about the children, who didn’t choose not to be vaccinated, and how likely is such stigmatization to change behavior?

/ June 12, 2017

The closure of major integrative medicine “Crown Jewels”: Terminating the Terminator?

When it comes to expansion and infiltrating medicine, "integrative medicine" has frequently seemed like the Terminator: utterly relentless. Recent setbacks at major integrative medicine "Crown Jewels" resulting in their closure cast that narrative in doubt. However, I never forget that after its seeming destruction, the Terminator always comes back.

/ June 5, 2017