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.
“Alternative” cancer cures in 1979: How little things have changed (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/alternative-cancer-cures-in-1979-how-little-things-have-changed/ Three magazine articles from 1979 issues of Penthouse show that little has changed over the years. Gary Null wrote a broadside against conventional cancer care, using the same faulty arguments he uses today and promoting Laetrile. In another article he praised Stanislaw Burzynski, saying he had a cure for cancer that was being suppressed. A third article was a tour of alternative cancer therapies; every dubious and unproven therapy they espoused in 1979 is still being practiced today.
A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/a-skeptics-guide-to-the-mind/ A new book by neurologist Robert Burton investigates how a brain creates a mind, and the limitations on what we can learn about consciousness and free will. It describes the latest research in neuroscience, fascinating experiments that raise more questions than they answer.
Politics of Public Research Funding (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/politics-of-public-research-funding/ A great deal of science is funded by government. Proposed legislation would give the government more oversight of how its money is spent, but would constitute unconscionable interference with the scientific process by nonscientists.
Dr. Who? (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/dr-who/ Alternative practitioners like naturopaths and chiropractors call themselves “doctor” and patients often confuse them with medical doctors. The proposed “Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act” might prove useful as a way to correct deceptive practices and give patients a better understanding of the qualifications of their healthcare providers.
Animal Therapy (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/animal-therapy/ Animal-assisted therapy is on the rise, with companion animals, service animals, and programs for animals to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Animals are sources of infection. Dr. Crislip thinks they shouldn’t be allowed in hospitals unless they are first autoclaved.