Category: Science and the Media

On the dangers of using valid placebo controls in clinical trials of acupuncture

I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned this before on this blog, but there was a time when I was less skeptical of acupuncture than I am now. It’s true. Don’t get me wrong, though. I never for a minute considered that the whole rigamarole about “unblocking” or “redirecting” the flow of that mystical life force known as qi had anything to...

/ November 17, 2008

Bad Science: Four Things I Learned From Dr. Ben Goldacre

“You cannot reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into.” — Ben Goldacre, MD Dr. Ben Goldacre is the author of the popular Guardian column, Bad Science. He has recently published a book by the same name. Bad Science received a very favorable review from the British Medical Journal and although I was tempted to write my own review for...

/ November 13, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., vaccines, the EPA, and the interface with science-based medicine and public policy

This blog is entitled Science-Based Medicine for a reason, and that’s because we here at SBM believe that the best method to result in the most efficacious treatments for the most people is through the application of science to the evaluation of the biology, pathophysiology, and treatment of disease and disorders. I may (or may not) be departing a bit from the...

/ November 10, 2008

Breast cancer and migraines–what is risk, anyway?

One of the questions most often asked in the medical literature is “what is the risk of x?”  It’s a pretty important question.  I’d like to be able to tell my patient with high blood pressure what their risk of heart attack is, both with and without treatment.  And risk is a sexy topic—the press loves it.  Whether it’s cell phones and...

/ November 6, 2008

“Urban Zen” and homeopathy at Beth Israel Medical Center, or: Dr. Gorski destroys his chances of ever being invited to join the faculty at BIMC or the Albert Einstein College of Medicine

I guess I never really wanted to work in Manhattan anyway. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I mean, why on earth would I want to? What’s the attraction? Living in the heart of it all, all those shows and all those amazing cultural activities, all those world-class restaurants? Being close to Boston, Philadelphia, and other cool East Coast cities,...

/ November 3, 2008

Knowledge Versus Expertise: The View From Consumer Land

“The internet, in democratizing knowledge, has led a lot of people to believe that it is also possible to democratize expertise.” – SBM Commenter, yeahsurewhatever I’ve spent the last few years of my life in Internet “Consumer Land,” doing what I can to bring accurate health information directly to patients. Of course, I have been surprised by the push-back, and the demand...

/ October 30, 2008

Placebos in the news again

Towards the end of last week, I was contemplating what I would be writing about for Monday. No topic had quite floated my boat, but I hated to dip into the archive of topics I’ve written about before to update a post. After all, I like to be topical whenever possible. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear (yes, I know...

/ October 27, 2008

When compassion is outshined by ignorance

In a media-saturated society, public figures have a disproportionate influence on people’s understanding of science and medicine. Most patients see their doctor no more than a couple of times a year, but they watch TV, go online, or read a paper daily. In our newspapers and in our news rooms, dedicated science reporters are becoming vanishingly rare.   A wide range of...

/ October 20, 2008

Dr. Jay Gordon and me: Random encounters with an apologist for the antivaccine movement

Although he doesn’t detest me nearly as much as antivaccine honcho and founder of Generation Rescue J. B. Handley does, Santa Monica celebrity pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon doesn’t like me very much at all. Actually, I’m not sure whether that’s entirely true or not, but Dr. Gordon sure doesn’t like it when I criticize him for his antivaccine rhetoric. He affects an...

/ October 20, 2008

A natural product of his environment

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join this outstanding group of medical professional bloggers in adding my natural products angle to the application of science-based medicine.  With the exception of Dr. Gorski, who holds MD and PhD degrees, I believe I am the first “only a PhD” to be invited to SBM.  However, I have spent much of my career training,...

/ October 14, 2008