Category: Science and Medicine

Separating Fact from Fiction in Pediatric Medicine: Facial Nerve Palsy

There are numerous medical conditions that are seemingly designed to allow proponents of “irregular medicine” to proclaim their treatments to be effective. These conditions tend to be chronic and subjective in nature, or to have waxing and waning courses such that a parent or patient might easily be fooled into assigning a causal relationship between a bogus intervention and a clinical improvement....

/ July 29, 2016

Pharmacists Selling Snakeoil

Edzard Ernst published an excellent editorial today addressing the question of why pharmacists sell bogus products. Our own resident pharmacist, Scott Gavura, expressed similar points here on SBM a year ago. Their points are worth emphasizing and expanding upon. Professional ethics The explicit premise of both editorials is that pharmacists, like physicians, are health care professionals. Being a professional means adhering to...

/ July 20, 2016

Horses, Zebras, and the Availability Heuristic

During a particularly difficult shift early in my career, I spent the better part of two hours at the bedside with a patient’s family discussing the unexpected discovery of a large tumor in their child’s brain. The implications of the finding were grave, and the family was understandably devastated. I was just a few years out of residency and this was the...

/ July 1, 2016
sciencebasedmedicine

Why Science-Based Medicine Matters

The regular contributors at Science-Based Medicine (SBM) work diligently every week to explore the world of science-based medicine and the gauzy, nebulous netherworld of fantasy-based medicine. They shine light on the leading edge of medical science, dissect the nuances of mainstream care, expose the misconceptions and sometimes the frank deceptions of so-called alternative medicine. Launching SBM on January 1, 2008, sbmadmin (Steven...

/ June 25, 2016

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Snake Oil

Noel Edmonds is a game show host, famous for Britain’s version of Deal or No Deal. As far as I can tell, he has no medical or scientific qualifications at all. This unfortunately has not stopped him from using his celebrity status to offer dubious medical advice via his Twitter feed. Such is the world in which we live. Edmonds tweeted, referring...

/ June 8, 2016
Cancer cell immunofluorescence

Is there a reproducibility “crisis” in biomedical science? No, but there is a reproducibility problem

Reproducibility is the key to scientific advancement. It has been claimed that we suffer from a "reproducibility crisis," but in reality it is a chronic problem in reproducibility. Here we will look at the scope of the problem and strategies to address it.

/ June 6, 2016

Does your antivax doctor have another agenda?

Several weeks back, I wrote a piece in praise of Michigan’s Fresh Air Camp’s decision to admit only properly vaccinated children. Predictably, there was a bit of a backlash from people who, despite the obvious benefits, oppose vaccinations. I can’t fault a parent for the decisions they make for their kids. We all work from the gut when it comes to our...

/ June 4, 2016

Newborn Phototherapy and Cancer: Cutting Edge Research or “Big Data” Failure?

While social media and news outlets were reacting, or in some cases overreacting, to a new rodent-based medical study on the unlikely link between cell phone use and brain cancer last month, two studies and an accompanying commentary were quietly published in Pediatrics that raised similar concerns. Rather than cell phone use, the proposed potential cause of pediatric cancer in these newly...

/ June 3, 2016

Fooling Myself

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. –Richard Feynman I like to think of myself as a rational person, but I’ve been fooled by my own experience again and again. I’ve made bad decisions and wasted time and money believing what I was seeing, instead of being objective and looking...

/ June 2, 2016

Uncertainty in Medicine

Medicine is an uncertain business. It is an applied science, applying the results of basic science knowledge and clinical studies to patients who are individuals with differing heredity, environment, and history. It is commonly assumed that modern science-based doctors know what they are doing, but quite often they don’t know for certain. Different doctors interpret the same evidence differently; there is uncertainty...

/ May 24, 2016