Category: Science and the Media

The Brady Bunch

The Disneyland measles outbreak: “Dr. Bob” Sears says measles isn’t that bad, and an antivaccine activist invokes the Brady Bunch fallacy

One argument antivaxers frequently make about the measles is that it's not dangerous. As "evidence" of this contention, they will often cite examples of sitcoms and cartoons from a half a century ago or more when measles was played for laughs. This is a fallacious argument, and there was a profound disconnect between the popular perception of measles and its reality.

/ January 19, 2015
Stem cell clinics should be better-regulated than a Starbucks

Stem cell clinics and unapproved, for-profit human experimentation

Editor’s note: I met Dr. Paul Knoepfler online in the wake of my two posts on Gordie Howe and his stem cell treatment for stroke. I was impressed by his posts on the topic and what I saw at his own blog. Given that he’s a stem cell researcher, I wanted him to write a post on stem cell clinics like the...

/ January 19, 2015
Ossuary_dice_in_set

Is cancer due mostly to “bad luck”?

One of the more difficult conversations to have with a patient as a cancer doctor occurs when a patient, recently informed of her diagnosis of, for example, breast cancer, asks me, “Why did I get this? What caused it?” What almost inevitably follows is an uncomfortable conversation in which explanations of the multiple known causes of breast cancer do not satisfy the...

/ January 5, 2015
Gordie-Howe

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke, part 2

Another Christmas has come and gone, surprisingly fast, as always. I had thought that it might make a good “last of 2014” post—well, last of 2014 for me, anyway; Harriet and Steve, at least, will be posting before 2014 ends—to do an end of year list of the best and worst of the year. Unfortunately, there remains a pressing issue that doesn’t...

/ December 29, 2014

TV Doctors Give Unreliable Recommendations

It’s always preferable to have objective empirical evidence to inform an opinion, rather than just subjective impressions. Confirmation bias will make it seem as if the facts support your opinion, even when they don’t. Of course, when objective evidence (such as published studies) does seem to support your position, you still have to keep your critical shields up. Confirmation bias can still...

/ December 24, 2014
GordieHowe1

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke

Note: There is now a major update to this story published here, which explains a lot of the questions remaining in this blog post. Seven years ago I returned to Michigan, where I was born and spent the first quarter century of my life, after an absence of more than 20 years. In the interim, I had done my surgical residency and...

/ December 22, 2014

Communicating Health Science News

A recent study addresses the problem of sensationalism in the communication of science news, an issue we deal with on a regular basis. The study was titled “The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study“. The results show two interesting things – that university press releases frequently overhype the results of studies, and that...

/ December 17, 2014

Vani Hari, a.k.a. “The Food Babe,” finally responds to critics

It’s no secret that we here at Science-Based Medicine (and many scientists and skeptics with a knowledge of basic chemistry and biology) have been very critical of Vani Hari, better known to her fans as The Food Babe. The reasons for our criticisms of her are legion. Basically, she is a seemingly-never-ending font of misinformation and fear mongering about food ingredients, particularly...

/ December 8, 2014

Lessons from the dubious rise and inevitable fall of green coffee beans

News this week that a randomized controlled trial of green coffee bean (GCB) has been officially retracted from the medical literature signals what is hopefully the end to one of the most questionable diet products to appear on the market in years. Plucked from obscurity and then subjected to bogus research, it’s now clear that the only people that actually benefited from...

/ October 23, 2014

Breast cancer myths: No, antiperspirants do not cause breast cancer

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post in which I explained why wearing a bra does not cause breast cancer. After I had finished the post, it occurred to me that I should have saved that post for now, given that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The reason is that, like clockwork, pretty much every year around this time articles touting...

/ October 6, 2014