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.
Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s cancer “success” stories update: Why is the release of the Burzynski sequel being delayed? (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/burzynski-success-stories-update-movie-sequel/ The second movie about Burzynski and his antineoplaston cancer treatments has been delayed, supposedly due to an international distribution deal, and pre-orders for the movie are no longer being taken, “due to high demand.” Dr. Gorski speculates that there might be another explanation: one of the patients featured in the movie as a success story has stopped posting her latest scan results, and a recent video shows facial asymmetry, suggesting that her brain tumor has continued to grow.
A recent study which is getting a lot of press finds a correlation between the consumption of processed meat (bacon, hot dogs, sausage), and all-cause mortality. Like many such studies, however, the exact implications are tricky to work out.
This is an observational study, meaning that it is able to detect correlation only, and not establish causation. However, it should be pointed out that when correlations hold up over numerous types of observation they can be used as a legitimate way to infer probable causation. In other words, I do not dismiss correlational data out of hand. It is one type of evidence, and has to be put into context.
In this case, however, it is very problematic. The study found that people who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meat has a significantly higher rate of death (all cause mortality). However, the correlation with red meat did not hold up when corrected for measurement error, while the correlation with processed meats did. For completely, they also found no association with eating chicken.
In the latest installment of our ongoing video series The Randi Show, James Randi goes in-depth on Dr. Oz's recent support of homeopathy. Should a medical doctor with a large television audience promote baseless pseudoscience? Randi thinks not.
For more episodes of The Randi Show and a host of other educational videos, visit our YouTube page.
As research for an upcoming presentation a group of us decided to try cold reading some strangers. On our first day, skeptic Mathew Baxter became “psychic medium” Mathias. He chose to tackle the hardest clients of all: psychics. Wearing more rings than Ringo Starr and an eye of Horus pendant, he visited Spirit Wise, a metaphysical bookstore in Denver. Connie, the owner of the store and her friend Tim agreed to have readings from Mathias. Both work as “professional” psychics.
Connie set up a reading room for us downstairs. This was a cozy setting of couches complete with props, including a lemon-scented candle and an enormous amethyst cathedral geode. The geode was shaped like the hooded Mother Mary, and was an excellent example of pareidolia.