Category: Science and the Media

Commander Yevsey Goldberg conducts an acupuncture procedure.

Battlefield acupuncture revisited: That’s it? That‘s all Col. Niemtzow’s got?

It’s like the zombie that wouldn’t die, isn’t it? I’m referring to so-called “battlefield acupuncture,” a topic that I wrote about last week for this very blog. With a week separating my usual posts, I normally don’t write about the same topic two times right in a row, but I’m making an exception for this topic. There are three reasons. First, I...

/ December 22, 2008

Farewell To The Medscape Journal: Profits, Losses And A Canary In A Coal Mine

On January 31, 2009 The Medscape Journal will be discontinued.* One can only assume that the journal’s parent company, WebMD, could no longer justify the cost associated with a free, open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal that receives no income from advertisers or sponsors. The Medscape Journal’s budget has been supported by revenue generated from Medscape (the website), and their robust Continuing Medical Education...

/ December 18, 2008

Now there’s something you don’t see on TV every day…

I rather like Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Unfortunately, I seldom get to watch, mainly because I usually show up at work sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 AM, and I don’t like watching more than a few minutes of video on my computer. However, Hugh Laurie, star of House, was interviewed by Conan and revealed himself to be not unlike me in...

/ December 11, 2008

Credulous medical reporting

Science and medicine reporting is hard. In this space and otherswe’ve dealt with some of the problems that arise when “generalist” reporters try to “do” science and medicine. And now, CNN has shut down its science unit. Given the increasing complexity of medical and scientific knowledge, this is very bad news. As a fine example of poor medical reporting, let’s look at...

/ December 10, 2008

How not to win friends and influence people

BLOGGER’S NOTE: The incident described in this post is true, although somewhat embellished to protect the names and identities of the innocent, if you know what I mean. This conversation occurred a few years ago at a large national cancer meeting. The question caught me by surprise. While attending a large national cancer meeting, I was having brunch with a friend, a...

/ December 8, 2008

Psychological support and breast cancer – again

Does the degree of efficacy is depend on the time at which it is measured? Apparently so. The case of psychological support and breast cancer longevity again. After an original 1989 report of positive effects on metastatic breast cancer, by 2006- 7 the majority of RCTs on such effects had settled the issue in the negative. This was only after 20 years...

/ December 4, 2008

Open-Access Peer Review: Increasing the Noise To Signal Ratio

Readers of Science Based Medicine are quite familiar with the distressingly common logical leap made by disgruntled healthcare consumers into alternative medicine. It goes something like this: I had a terrible experience with a doctor who [ignored/patronized/misdiagnosed] me and I also heard something horrible in the media about a pharmaceutical company’s misbehavior [hiding negative results/overstating efficacy/overcharging for medications], therefore alternative treatments [homeopathy/acupuncture/energy...

/ December 4, 2008

Does TV Cause Teen Pregnancy?

I’ll be the first to admit that the quality of TV programming, especially network programs, leaves much to be desired. Critics of television have blamed TV for everything from violence to obesity. Now studies have shown that teens who watch sexy programs are more likely to become sexually active and to get pregnant. I’m not so sure that these studies really show...

/ December 2, 2008

Do over one in five breast cancers detected by mammography alone really spontaneously regress?

It figures. Last Wednesday, right before the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as I was far more interested in preparing to have family over the next day than in what was going on in the medical news or the blogs, the results of a most fascinating study hit the news. In Medscape, the title of the news report was Mammography Study Suggests Some...

/ December 1, 2008

The (Not-So-)Beautiful (Un)Truth about the Gerson protocol and cancer quackery

Note added by editor: The complete movie is now available on YouTube: Although this blog is about medicine, specifically the scientific basis of medicine and threats to the scientific basis of medicine regardless of the source, several of us also have an interest in other forms of pseudoscience and threats to other branches of science. One branch of science that is, not...

/ November 24, 2008