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.
Adventures in defending science-based medicine in cancer journals: Energy chelation (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/energy-chelation/ In energy chelation, practitioners allegedly touch the “human energy field” to remove “sticky, heavy dark energy.” This nonsense made it into a controlled trial that was published in Cancer, a journal that should know better. The authors claim to have shown it works, but their own data show it doesn’t; and their response to published criticism demonstrates their flawed thinking.
Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/homeopathy-and-its-kindred-delusions/ Contains the text of Dr. Hall’s new introduction to Oliver Wendell Holmes’ classic skeptical work about homeopathy, recently republished as a e-book by the JREF. Written in 1842, Holmes’ book was remarkably astute and it provides lessons about critical thinking that are even more pertinent today.
Mass Media Attention Psychogenic Syndrome - MMAPS (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/mass-media-attention-psychogenic-syndrome-mmaps/ 15 children in a NY town developed involuntary tics. After extensive evaluation, these were diagnosed by neurologists as conversion disorder and mass psychogenic illness. Media attention transformed this into a “mystery illness” and created irrational fears, blaming everything from vaccination to contamination resulting from a 1970 train derailment.
IgG Food Intolerance Tests: What does the science say? (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/igg-food-intolerance-tests-what-does-the-science-say/ A $450 blood test for IgG is being marketed as a way to detect intolerance to 250 food items. IgG antibodies are indicators of exposure to products, not allergies; and they may actually denote food tolerance rather than intolerance. IgG testing for food intolerance is not supported by any evidence, and expert consensus roundly rejects it.
What is Science? (Kimball Atwood) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/what-is-science/ Many academic medical researchers have a misunderstanding of science similar to that of CAM apologists. Science can legitimately make assertions about what cannot be true, based on a large body of data, assertions that can’t be overturned by a few clinical studies. “More studies” are not needed for improbable CAM methods like homeopathy and Reiki.