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Last Week on Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   
Monday, 08 September 2014 11:42

 Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

The “CDC whistleblower saga”: Updates, backlash, and (I hope) a wrap-up (David Gorski)  Whistleblower William Thompson alleged CDC malfeasance in withholding data from a vaccine study. The CDC has now issued a statement, and Hooker’s paper re-analyzing the data has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. Anti-vaccine activists are leaking documents and issuing threats, and much remains to be explained; but the CDC conspiracy theory is implausible and not supported by the evidence.

The Unpersuadables (Harriet Hall)   A new book by Will Storr investigates why some people irrationally reject information showing their beliefs are false. Our brains systematically deceive us with illusions and errors in thinking; we create models of reality and try to explain away anything that doesn’t match. We are inherently fonder of stories than of science. Being unpersuadable is an evolved human characteristic; we must learn to overcome the limitations of our prehistoric brains.

CAM and Headaches (Steven Novella)   A recent editorial about the treatment of headaches propagates many misconceptions about CAM. It exaggerates CAM’s popularity, blurs the line between CAM and scientific medicine by including things like exercise, pretends that “Western” medicine is just an arbitrary historical choice, and tries to justify CAM modalities that have been disproven. 

Chiropractic “pediatrics” firmly in the anti-vaccination camp (Jann Bellamy)   Anti-vaccine speakers have been invited to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s upcoming conference. The chiropractic position on vaccines ranges from virulently anti-vaccination to tepid support from a minority. It is scary to think they are promoting themselves as primary care physicians and pediatricians.

Ebola SCAMS (Mark Crislip)   Some homeopaths are telling people how to make their own Ebola remedy at home, starting with body fluids from an infected person. Others offer an MP3 file of homeopathic remedy energy. Nano silver is another alleged remedy. This kind of lunacy capitalizes on fears of Ebola and could lead to fatal consequences. 

 
Message from Randi: Looking ahead PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by James Randi   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 14:21

Hello everyone, Randi here.

As you now know, there are major changes taking place at the JREF.

We've been successful in our mission as an educational resource, but for some time we have felt that we could be doing more to make a difference, especially with regards to cultivating a new generation of critical thinkers. So, our prime focus for the future will be to build our educational content, and to develop more and greater opportunities to promote critical thinking in the classroom.

I also want to reassure you that, never fear, the Million Dollar Challenge lives on!

And, in exciting news, we are beginning to plan TAM 2015 -- our 13th! JREF Fellow and long-time volunteer Ray Hall has agreed to be the Program Chair for the next summer's meeting. Ray says to expect a full agenda of scientific skepticism, critical thinking, Sunday Papers, informative and inspirational talks, new insights, the warmth and family of the TAM community, and all the usual magic that is The Amazing Meeting.

 
Last Week on Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 13:54

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

Did a high ranking whistleblower really reveal that the CDC covered up proof that vaccines cause autism in African-American boys? (David Gorski)
Anti-vaccine sources erupted over reports that a whistleblower had confessed to fraud in the CDC, saying that when he and his co-authors published a study 10 years ago, they covered up a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in a subgroup of African-American boys. Anti-vaccine activist Brian Hooker published a flawed, questionable re-analysis of the data. We don’t yet know the whole story, but this appears to be just an ideological tempest in a teacup; and it does nothing to change the scientific consensus on vaccines.

Diet Cults vs. Science-Based Healthy Eating (Harriet Hall)  
In his book Diet Cults, Matt Fitzgerald argues that science has established quite definitively that there is no one healthiest diet: humans evolved to adapt and thrive on a variety of diets. He debunks the Paleo and other popular diets and shows that their advocates are swayed by emotional and moral influences. He proposes an informal diet guide consisting of a hierarchy of healthier-to-less healthy foods that is flexible, accommodates individual preferences, and that most nutrition experts would endorse based on the best available evidence we have at this point.

Bad Science Journals (Steven Novella)  Open-access online journals charge the author to publish. Some of them are fraudulent, falsely representing themselves as peer-reviewed and trading on the reputation of journals formerly published in print. Half of the dubious journals accepted a bogus nonsense article for publication.

Naturopathy vs. Science: Facts Edition (Scott Gavura)  A comparison of naturopathy websites and Wikipedia entries on subjects like homeopathy, adrenal fatigue, candidiasis, and black cohosh is illuminating. Naturopaths claim to base their practice on scientific principles; but it is obvious that they endorse many non-science-based diagnoses and treatments and are often openly antagonistic to science, even saying the scientific method is not applicable to what they do.

A Touch to Fear: Chiropractic and the Newborn Baby (Clay Jones)
Some chiropractors treat newborns and consider themselves qualified to act as pediatric primary care providers. A chiropractor described what he did when called by a midwife to treat a fussy baby right after a home birth. His incompetence was obvious, and the outcome could well have been disastrous. Chiropractors do not have the training to evaluate newborns; chiropractic “adjustments” of newborns are never indicated and could be dangerous.  

 
Los Angeles Office Closed PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREFAdmin   
Monday, 01 September 2014 14:13

In order to achieve cost-savings and greater efficiency, the Los Angeles office of the JREF has closed effective September 1, 2014. All operations have been moved to Falls Church, Virginia.

DJ Grothe is no longer with the JREF. James Randi has taken over as acting President.

This restructuring is part of an enhanced educational agenda aimed at inspiring an investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers by engaging children and their parents, as well as educators and the general public, in how to think about the many extraordinary claims we hear every day.

Contact the JREF at:
James Randi Educational Foundation
2941 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 105
Falls Church, VA 22042
JREF@Randi.Org 

 
Last Week on Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Harriet Hall   
Monday, 01 September 2014 13:55

The Science-based Medicine summaries return! 

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.

The false dichotomies of CAM and “integrative medicine” (David Gorski)  
Victoria Stern uses faulty reasoning to argue that while alternative medicine is bad, integrative medicine (that integrates alternative with conventional medicine) is good. She seems to think that only integrative medicine can address the “whole” patient and that it is necessary to embrace quackery in order to form a “true bond” between doctor and patient.

“Atavistic oncology” revisited: Dr. Frank Arguello responds (David Gorski)  Dr. Gorski criticized Dr. Arguello’s “atavistic chemotherapy” because it is untested, based on a questionable rationale, unpublished, and not even properly defined. Dr. Arguello demanded that he retract the article. His letters and e-mails (reproduced here in full) consist not of a rational response to Gorski’s criticisms, but of insults, ad hominem arguments, threats of legal action, letters to Dr. Gorski’s employers, excuses, and a challenge in the form of an experiment on a patient that would be unethical and that he had not even asked the patient about.

Pass the Salt (But Not That Pink Himalayan Stuff) (Harriet Hall) Three recent articles confirm the understanding that too much salt is bad for health but provide evidence that too little salt is harmful too. Existing guidelines may be too extreme. Pink Himalayan salt has been recommended (by unreliable sources) because it contains 84 trace minerals, but some of those minerals are radioactive and poisonous.

Vitamin K Refusal – The New Anti-Vax (Steven Novella)  Some parents are endangering the health of their newborns by refusing the routine vitamin K injection that protects children for 6 months until they start getting enough vitamin K in their diet. Without this supplementation, there is a small but devastating risk of bleeding, brain damage, and even death. Irrational adherence to the naturalistic fallacy is largely to blame for both vaccine refusal and vitamin K refusal.

Clinical trials of integrative medicine: testing whether magic works? (David Gorski)  David Gorski and Steven Novella have managed to get an article published in a very good medical journal to present the SBM view. They show why randomized clinical trials of highly implausible CAM treatments such as homeopathy or reiki should be discouraged.

Tens of millions for CAM research – and it’s all on your dime (Jann Bellamy)  The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 was enacted to empower citizens to hold the government responsible for wasteful spending. Millions are being spent on research into acupuncture, chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy, and improbable treatments like chelation for heart disease. It’s time to stop wasting government money that could be better spent on more plausible areas of research.

That’s So Chiropractic (Mark Crislip)  A study attempted to correlate spinal health to overall wellness by dissecting 75 human cadavers and attributing diseases of the internal organs to misalignments of the vertebrae. Another trial with only 14 patients and no controls purported to show that chiropractic effectively treats autism. Such studies are methodologically horrible and useless. Chiropractors continue to discourage vaccination, to deny the risks of neck manipulations, and to offer unsubstantiated theories; and yet they want to become primary care providers!  

 
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