Salt: More confirmation bias for your preferred narrative

Judging by the recent press reports, the latest Cochrane review reveals that everything we’ve been told about eating salt, and cardiovascular disease, is wrong: The New York Times: Nostrums: Cutting Salt Has Little Effect on Heart Risk The Daily Mail: Cutting back on salt ‘does not make you healthier’ (despite nanny state warnings) Scientific American: It’s Time to End the War on...

/ July 21, 2011

Behavior and Public Health – To Nudge or Legislate

As health care costs rise and great attention is being paid to the health care system in many countries (perhaps especially the US), the debate is heating up over how to improve public health. Many health problems are greatly increased by the lifestyle choices individuals make – smoking, weight control, and exercise to name a few. The problem is that it is...

/ July 20, 2011
640px-Fluoxetine

Antidepressants and Effect Size

Antidepressant drugs have been getting a bad rap in the media. I’ll just give 3 examples: On the Today show, prominent medical expert 🙂 Tom Cruise told us Brooke Shields shouldn’t have taken these drugs for her postpartum depression. In Natural News, “Health Ranger” Mike Adams accused pharmaceutical companies and the FDA of covering up negative information about antidepressants, saying it would be considered...

/ July 19, 2011
Placebo effects help you feel better, they don't make you actually better.

Spin City: Using placebos to evaluate objective and subjective responses in asthma

As I type this, I’m on an airplane flying home from The Amazing Meeting 9 in Las Vegas. Sadly, I couldn’t stay for Sunday; my day job calls as I’ll be hosting a visiting professor. However, I can say—and with considerable justification, I believe—that out little portion of TAM mirrored the bigger picture in that it was a big success. Attendance at...

/ July 18, 2011

Honey

I cram for TAM, and, combined with other commitments, not the least of which is that it is finally sunny and warm in Portland, after a year that has resembled All the Summer in a Day,  which leads to a relatively short post.  There are just so many hours in a day and if possible those days need to be spent in...

/ July 15, 2011

SBM at TAM9

Many of the SBM blogger are at The Amazing Meeting 9 this week – or TAM9 From Outer Space, as it is whimsically called. The JREF, who sponsors TAM, is a big supporter of our efforts at SBM and, in fact, as of this year co-sponsors this blog along with the New England Skeptical Society (both non-profits). This year, as with the...

/ July 13, 2011

Electrodermal Testing Part II: Legal and Regulatory Aspects

Last week I described electrodermal testing. I’m sure many readers thought, “There oughta be a law against that.” Well, there are laws. Unfortunately, having laws and enforcing them are two different things. Some of these devices are not approved at all. Most have received 501(k) approval from the FDA as biofeedback devices so similar to previous devices that they do not require...

/ July 12, 2011

Anti-vaccine propaganda in The Baltimore Sun

The hypothesis that vaccines cause autism has been about as thoroughly falsified through research as any health hypothesis can be. Even if, by bending over backward into a back-breaking contortionist pose to be “open-minded”, some people will concede that there’s still a bit of room for reasonable doubt about whether there is no link between vaccines and autism in “susceptible” populations, there...

/ July 11, 2011

Scientific evidence for synergy in a botanical product

So, you’re curious about herbal medicine. Is there any truth to this stuff? Uncle Howie tells you that he read in the National Enquirer about an herb that has better antibacterial effects on cuts and scrapes than Neosporin ointment — never mind that Neosporin is composed of three different antibiotics that come originally from bacteria themselves. So you set out on a...

/ July 8, 2011

Vaccine Confidence: Attitudes and Actions

Few groups are more hazardous to public health than the anti-vaccine movement — because there’s a body count affiliated with their actions. When vaccination rates drop, communicable diseases re-emerge, and people suffer. While anti-vaccine sentiment will probably persist as long as vaccines are around, we’re fortunate that vaccination rates, on balance, remain very high. In 2009, U.S. vaccination rates for most childhood...

/ July 7, 2011