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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.

Skills of Selection PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jamy Ian Swiss   

In the days since Thanksgiving, perhaps you’ve heard the tale of “Diane in 7A,” a story first tweeted in installments on Thanksgiving day by television producer Evan Gale of “The Bachelor.” The tale was told, according to him, of an obnoxious airline passenger who shared a flight he was on, who was rude to the airline staff and complained noisily about delays and the importance of reaching her destination on Thanksgiving, as if nobody else shared similar pressures.

According to Gale, he began by hand-delivering to her a couple of small bottles of vodka, and then continued a dialogue of sorts by sending notes to her – they were not in adjacent seats – written on cocktail coasters. This then turned into a contest of words, with both the woman and Gale becoming increasingly obnoxious. When they eventually encountered one another in the course of exiting the flight, she slapped him.

The story was covered in various news outlets, including this piece on Huffington Post.

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Retracted, hoaxed or knocked out? This week in Doubtful News for December 3, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Sharon Hill   

 There were SO many wild and wacky stories this past week. Here is a rundown of a cross-section of them courtesy of Doubtful News.

The most important science story of the week was the retraction of the paper that claimed Monsanto herbicide and genetically modified maize was to blame for cancerous tumors in rats. From the first, this study was steeped in controversy and that debate continues.

The World Health Organization made a major mistake in a report regarding HIV infection in the population.They publicly acknowledged their error.

In Mexico, the Catholic Church is fighting a rising tide of violent drug-related activity with… exorcism. Wonder how that's going to work out? 

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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.

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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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