Category: Science and the Media

Did chiropractic neck manipulation kill Katie May?

Well, we’re back. Yes, after having our WordPress database somehow borked to the point where no new posts could be added and no existing posts could be edited since Friday, Science-Based Medicine is back in business—finally! As a result, some of you might have seen this post elsewhere, as it was considered to be somewhat time-sensitive, and I didn’t want to delay,...

/ February 8, 2016
Placebonex

Is “harnessing the power of placebo” worthwhile to treat anything?

We frequently write about placebo effects here on Science-Based Medicine. The reason is simple. They are an important topic in medicine and, at least as importantly, understanding placebo effects is critical to understanding the exaggerated claims of advocates of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more frequently called “integrative medicine” (i.e., integrating pseudoscience with science). Over the years, I (and, of course,...

/ January 11, 2016

Statins: The Impact of Negative Media Reports and the Risks of Discontinuing Treatment

The evidence is clear: statin drugs are effective in reducing the rate of heart attacks and death in people who have already had a heart attack as well as in people who are at high risk of having one. Some people refuse to believe that evidence; they are statin deniers, similar to the climate change deniers and AIDS deniers (and there are...

/ December 29, 2015

Brian Clement claims Hippocrates treatments “reverse” multiple sclerosis

American charlatan Brian Clement made another trip to Canada recently and was caught on audiotape claiming multiple sclerosis could be “reversed” at the Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI), where he serves as Director. This is yet another in a series of his misrepresentations about the effectiveness of the quack treatments offered at HHI. Indeed, Clement calls to mind the old joke about inveterate...

/ November 26, 2015
andrew-weil

To debate or not to debate: The strange bedfellows of Andrew Weil

To debate or not to debate, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous quackery Or to take arms against a sea of quackademia, And, by opposing end them. Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1, paraphrased badly.   The question of whether it is worthwhile to debate cranks, quacks, and advocates of...

/ November 9, 2015

Information Literacy and the Number Needed to Treat

Increasingly people are accessing healthcare information in order to make decisions for their own health. A 2010 Pew poll found that 80% of internet users will do so for health care information. This presents a huge potential benefit, but also a significant risk. Information literacy Daniel Levitin talks about the need for public information literacy, something we also discuss frequently here on...

/ November 4, 2015

The Time a Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Got Manipulated by a Chiropractor

Katherine Ellison won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985, not for science journalism but for coverage of the monetary mayhem perpetrated by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos on the people of the Philippines. I was nine at the time and have little recollection of the impact of her work, but I will assume that it was meaningful in light of the award. And she...

/ October 23, 2015

NPR and the False Choice of Alternative Medicine

A recent segment on NPR is an excellent representation of some of the mischief that promotion of unscientific medical treatments can create. The title is a good summary of the problem: “To Curb Pain Without Opioids, Oregon Looks To Alternative Treatments.” The entire segment is premised around a false dichotomy, between excess use of opioids and unproven alternative treatments. It is clear...

/ September 23, 2015

“Precision medicine”: Hope, hype, or both?

I am fortunate to have become a physician in a time of great scientific progress. Back when I was in college and medical school, the thought that we would one day be able to sequence the human genome (and now sequence hundreds of cancer genomes), to measure the expression of every gene in the genome simultaneously on a single “gene chip,” and...

/ August 31, 2015
An example of ductal carcinoma in situ.

How should we treat DCIS?

I’ve written more times than I can remember about the phenomenon of overdiagnosis and the phenomenon that is linked at the hip with it, overtreatment. Overdiagnosis is a problem that arises when large populations of asymptomatic, apparently healthy people are screened for a disease or a condition, the idea being that catching the disease at an earlier stage in its progression will...

/ August 23, 2015