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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
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.

Medical cranks: Why we fight (David Gorski) Videos of presentations from TAM 2013: David Gorski’s and Bob Blaskiewicz’s talks about cancer quack Burzynski and a panel discussion on “Medical Cranks and Quacks” with both of them plus Steven Novella, Harriet Hall, and Mark Crislip.

Revealed by the FDA: The results of the most recent inspection of the Burzynski Clinic (David Gorski) In 2012, when a child died from Burzynski’s experimental treatments, the FDA ordered him to stop enrolling new children in his clinical trials. Now the prohibition has been extended to adults, and the FDA has released a long list of egregious violations found during their inspection. It’s hard to understand why he wasn’t shut down completely a long time ago.

Colonoscopy and Other Colorectal Cancer Screening Options: An Update (Harriet Hall) New data show that colonosocopy cuts the incidence of colon cancer and death from colon cancer by more than half. The pros and cons of the procedure are reviewed and other screening options are discussed.


There are spiders in the bananas: This week in Doubtful News for November 12, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sharon Hill   

Here is a rundown of the weird, wacky woo-woo and WOW courtesy of Doubtful News.

We begin with a story that we really wish was an urban legend but turns out is true. Venomous spiders do hitch a ride on bananas. But it is rare, don't stop eating bananas!

This story, however, was a rumor that spread far and wide like a tsunami, of trash. 

There was a live person buried in a grave. I feel bad for the person who was there when he clawed his way out. 

Last Week In Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
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.

The sad saga of an Amish girl with a curable cancer whose parents are refusing chemotherapy in favor of “natural healing” (David Gorski) A 10 year old girl with lymphoma was responding well to chemotherapy, but the parents stopped her treatment in the belief that it was killing her. The hospital got a medical guardian appointed, but the parents fled with the child. A controversy erupted about parental rights, natural treatments, and other related issues.

Update: Chiropractic Neck Manipulation and Stroke (Harriet Hall) The risk of stroke with neck manipulation is generally recognized, but many chiropractors would still like to shift the blame elsewhere. A new study tries to show that the association doesn’t qualify as causation by Hill’s criteria. The author’s arguments are unconvincing and don’t take the “smoking gun” cases into account or address the risk/benefit ratio.

FDA Releases Burzynski Clinic Inspection Notes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Robert Blaskiewicz   

Yesterday, the FDA released inspection notes from a visit to the Burzynski Clinic that took place at the beginning of this year. One of these files had already been released to the public earlier this year.

The information and its implications, should they hold up, are absolutely damning for the Burzynski Clinic and especially for the lead researcher, Stanislaw Burzynski. Those of us who have been researching this topic have known about these findings for a long time, from almost the moment it could be requested through a Freedom of Information Act request (6 months before it appeared on the FDA website), but we have been careful to not release it through blogs. We wanted to see that it got as high profile a release as possible. Of course, the cat is out of the bag in a big way, and so I want to let you know what these documents say.

Brain Machine Interfaces – Now with Two-Fisted Action PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Steve Novella   

I am usually very cautious about predicting future technological development, informed by how poorly past predictions match the present. I will, however, occasionally go out on a limb and tentatively predict when I feel certain technologies are likely to have a huge impact in the future. After all – some past predictions were fairly accurate. In the early 1990’s we felt that the Internet was about to change the world, and it did.

One such technology that I have been following is the brain-machine interface (BMI). Researchers in several institutions have been making steady progress in getting computer chips to talk to brains and vice versa. There are occasional milestones worth pointing out in this research, and I believe we have just passed one – the development of a BMI that allows a rhesus monkey to control two robot arms simultaneously.

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