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.
Luc Montagnier and the Nobel Disease (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/luc-montagnier-and-the-nobel-disease/ Nobel Disease is an affliction where Nobel laureates embrace crankery or pseudoscience in their later years. Several examples are provided, including the latest victim Luc Montagnier, who has delved into homeopathy and who is now claiming that autistic children have DNA sequences that emit radio waves from bacteria, justifying long-term antibiotics.
The Forerunners of EBM (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-forerunners-of-ebm/ A medical history book by Ulrich Tröhler shows that the concept of evidence-based medicine is older than most people realize, dating back to the 1500s. It explains the mindset of the time that made doctors so slow to adopt the scientific method and shows how scientific medical thinking gradually evolved.
Quackery Then and Now (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/quackery-then-and-now/ A 1912 article about quackery was recently republished in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showing that little has changed in the last century. The control of quackery requires public education and effective regulation: little progress has been made and the same arguments and proposed fixes keep recurring.
How do we avoid harming the elderly with prescription drugs? (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/how-do-we-avoid-harming-the-elderly-with-prescription-drugs/ Effective drugs can cause harm as well as benefit, and the elderly are particularly susceptible due to multiple prescriptions and the physiologic changes with aging. Lists of drugs that are potentially inappropriate for anyone over the age of 65 have been published. Prescribing for the elderly can be significantly improved.
Foolishness or Fraud? Bogus Science at NCCAM (Ben Kavoussi) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/foolishness-or-fraud-bogus-science-at-nccam/ Dr. Josephine Briggs, the Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), has appeared to support CAM beyond the evidence, even saying that acupuncture is useful because something meaningful is taking place outside the treatment itself. Now she has made a statement that “the evidence is not there” for alternative medicine. Has she had a meaningful enlightenment, or will NCCAM continue to waste taxpayer money studying highly improbable treatments?