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 in medicine.
Steven Higgs: Another antivaccine reporter like Dan Olmsted in the making? (David Gorski) April is National Autism Awareness Month. The annual barrage of anti-vaccine propaganda from the usual suspects is less prominent this year, but journalist Steven Higgs, a new convert, has swallowed their misinformation whole and joined the campaign.
A homeopathy supporter notices our visit with the director of NCCAM (David Gorski) Homeopathy promoter John Weeks reacted to the SBM team’s meeting with the NCCAM, describing how Dr. Briggs and her colleagues also met with a group of homeopaths and were allegedly impressed. He makes it clear that the CAM community wants its pseudoscience, not rigorous science, to guide NCCAM’s research efforts.
Breastfeeding is Good but Maybe Not THAT Good (Harriet Hall) An article in Pediatrics estimated that 900 lives and billions of dollars would be saved if 90% of mothers breastfed their babies for 6 months. Their methods and statistics were flawed and their overly optimistic conclusions were based only on estimates based on other estimates based on mixed data of varying quality: in fact, the database they started with did not show a lower death rate in breastfed infants.
Social Factors in Autism Diagnosis (Steven Novella) The idea that there is an autism “epidemic” is a misperception resulting from confounders like diagnostic substitutions and social factors. A new study found that children are more likely to be diagnosed with autism if they are in social proximity to others with that diagnosis.
Randi on World Homeopathy Awareness Week (David Gorski) A link to Randi’s video pronouncement.
The dangers of opponents of science-based medicine (David Gorski) A link to a video of a talk by Michael Specter on the dangers of science denial. He mentions vaccine denialism, supplements, and HIV/AIDS denialism and memorably says, “When you start down the road where belief in magic replaces evidence and science, you end up in a place where you don’t want to be.”
Homeopathy – Failing Randomized Controlled Trials Since 1835 (Joseph Albietz) The trail of negative studies of homeopathy can be traced back to a double blind trial done in Nuremberg in 1835. The evidence is overwhelmingly negative: it’s time to stop testing and acknowledge that homeopathy simply doesn’t work.