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JREF Swift Blog
Swift, named for Jonathan Swift, is the JREF's daily blog, featuring content from James Randi, the JREF staff, and other featured authors.

Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   

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.

“Low T”: The triumph of marketing over science (David Gorski)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/low-t-the-triumph-of-marketing-over-science/. When sexual dysfunction is caused by true hypogonadism, testosterone therapy is therapeutic. Unfortunately, clever marketing has convinced thousands of men with a laundry list of unrelated symptoms that they need testosterone for “Low T.” There is no evidence that it can relieve those symptoms, and it can cause adverse effects such as sleep apnea, shrinkage of the testicles, heart attacks, and increased mortality. “Low T” is sales, not science.

New Cholesterol Guidelines (Harriet Hall)  http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/new-cholesterol-guidelines/ The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have issued new guidelines for the use of statins. Based on the best current evidence, they have discarded “target” levels for LDL cholesterol in favor of a better approach based on risk level and intensity of statin dose. They offer a calculator to measure an individual’s risk of a cardiovascular event over the next 10 years. The changes have led to controversy and misunderstandings.

Read more...
 
Chelation for Autism - Putting the Cart before the Unicorn PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steven Novella   

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a challenging neurological condition characterized by difficulty with social interaction and communication. As the name implies, it occurs across a wide spectrum from barely detectable to debilitating. ASD is usually diagnosed by 3 years old, but studies have found that signs are often present as early as six months old.

It is understandable that parents of children with ASD are eager for effective treatments and feel obligated to do their best for their children by leaving no stone unturned. This is not, however, always the best approach in medicine. Some stones can cause harm and are best left unturned.  

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Flu Vaccine Blamed for Death PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Dr. Steve Novella   

 The story of Chandler Webb is a tragic one. He was a healthy 19-year-old boy who late in October developed a headache and vomiting. His symptoms progressed quickly, and a week later he was admitted to the hospital, where he continued to progress despite treatment.

Chandler was diagnosed with encephalitis – inflammation and swelling of the brain. This is a serious condition, potentially fatal. I have treated many cases of encephalitis, and they are always challenging. Chandler’s doctors are not free to disclose the details of the case, but from his Mother’s descriptions and the news reports it seems like a typical case.

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The Psychology of the Perfect Holiday Season PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sheldon Helms   

 Contrary to what some might think, a majority of skeptics celebrate winter holidays. December is the time of year when we join millions of others in an odd mixture of anticipation and angst, joy and judgment, happiness and headaches.

 

Luckily, there’s a science to enjoying the holidays. Hundreds of studies have been published on some of the key components (and the main sources of the stress) of this time of year, many of which can provide us with tips not just for surviving the holidays, but for actually enhancing our enjoyment of them. In offering my advice as a social scientist, I would like to suggest concentrating on following the science available regarding three main elements of the holiday season: 1. Holiday gift giving, 2. Holiday spending, and 3. Holiday food.

 

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MYSTERIES NEW AND OLD PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   

                                Ouija Board

“The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” is an interesting article available at Smithsonian.com. Posted on October 28 no doubt intended to coincide with Hallowe’en, the piece provides interesting history of the spiritualistic device, which first appeared in spiritualistic camps during the heyday of American spiritualism in the late 19th century. The “talking board” was eventually patented in 1891, albeit that the patent does not explain how the device worked.

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