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.
Traditional Chinese herbalism at the Cleveland Clinic? What happened to science-based medicine? (David Gorski)
The Cleveland Clinic has opened a new Chinese herbal therapy center, offering questionable treatments not backed by any scientific evidence and using bogus Chinese pulse-taking for diagnosis. The consent form even constitutes an admission that what they are offering is not real medicine. A shameful example of the infiltration of quackery into mainstream medicine.
The Compassionate Freedom of Choice Act: Ill-advised “right to try” goes federal (David Gorski)
A bill for compassionate freedom of choice has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. It would expand access to unapproved therapies and diagnostics, bypassing the existing system that already provides a way to approve single patient trials for “compassionate use exceptions.” It is a terrible idea, constituting a stealth assault on the very heart of clinical trial ethics.
How “they” view “us” (David Gorski)
We see ourselves as promoting science-based medicine and educating the world about quackery. Our critics see us as evil pharma shills with conflicts of interest, preying on sick people for profit and deliberately hiding the “truth.” They attack us from a level of pure venomous hatred, even comparing us to Nazis. They should not be our target; we should ignore their hatred and continue trying to provide accurate information to the fence-sitters.
Dr. Joe Writes About Quackery (Harriet Hall)
In a new book, Is That a Fact? “Dr. Joe” Schwarcz takes on quackery. He interweaves chemistry with medicine, critical thinking, and the scientific method. His analyses of quacks and frauds and his explanations of the chemistry of everyday life are simple, lucid, and humorous. The book is not only informative but is a delight to read.
Microwaves and Nutrition (Steven Novella)
There is an anti-science subculture that consistently misunderstands and misinterprets the evidence and arrives at the wrong conclusions. The Food Babe is a prime example. Her beliefs about microwave ovens are demonstrably incorrect and at odds with the scientific evidence. Microwaves are safe, and the net effects on health and nutrition are favorable.
Telemedicine: Click and the doctor will see you now (Jann Bellamy)
The technology for telemedicine is already here; patients can interact with doctors via video communication. This has the potential to improve access and quality of health care when properly used. It could also decrease quality of care and facilitate quackery. Regulators are playing catch-up, trying to establish standards.
Cochrane Reviews: The Food Babe of Medicine? (Mark Crislip)
Systematic reviews are a way of evaluating all the published evidence to reach a conclusion, but they do a poor job of predicting the results of a definitive clinical trial. The Cochrane reviews are highly regarded, but they are flawed. Their conclusions frequently reveal reviewer bias and they fail to consider factors outside of study results. For instance, they discourage stockpiling oseltamivir for possible influenza epidemics based on data that would not be applicable to an epidemic situation.