Why Physical Activity Does Little to Control Weight
Herman Pontzer describes new research findings that challenge our conventional wisdom about diet, exercise, and weight loss.
Turmeric/Curcumin: The “Natural Remedy of the Century” or a Waste of Money?
Turmeric does have other benefits. It enhances the flavor and appearance of Indian food.
The Story Of The Gene
The Gene: An Intimate History. By Siddhartha Mukherjee. Scribner, New York, 2016. ISBN 978-1476733500. 592 pp. Hardcover, $32.00. Nearly six years ago, I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (SI, May/June 2011). It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. …
Self-Hatred: The Cause of Autoimmune Disease?
The idea that we can take control of our destiny and can prevent or cure illness with our thoughts alone is a seductive one. Wouldn’t that be nice? I wish it were true.
The Screening Test that Caused an Epidemic
Just because you can screen for a disease doesn’t mean you should.
Stick It In Your Ear! How Not To Do Science
Ear acupuncture claims to relieve sore throats. A new study seeming to support that idea is so poorly done that it provides a textbook example of how to distinguish between good and bad science.
A Questionable Letter of Recommendation for Ear Candling
No way am I ever going to put one in my ear. Call me prejudiced… in favor of science and reality.
New Superfoods: Kakadu Plums and Cockroach Milk
“Put simply, it is magic!” In my opinion, the only thing magical about it is the magical thinking required to believe the claims for it.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Do They Really Work?
People want to believe in G/C, and they can easily find reasons to disregard the evidence. Hope springs eternal.
Genius Java: Memory Boosting Coffee
In one sense it might actually make you smarter: if you can understand why its claims are questionable and can apply those lessons to other marketing claims.
Clear Thinking About Cancer
He doesn’t blame people who go off in pursuit of a promised miracle cure. He understands their desperation and the comfort of having a hope to cling to. Rather, he blames those who offer that anything without a fair, accurate, and accountable foundation.
The CAMphora: Health in a Jar
My flabber was thoroughly gasted. Apparently you sit in the jar and put water and maybe Chinese herbs into it and it is connected to 220-volt electricity.
The Truth About Cancer
I actually find it flattering when someone attacks me so stupidly. It means what I wrote was so accurate that they were unable to find anything they could legitimately criticize.
Uninformed Consumers Are Treating Their Flu Symptoms with Muscovy Duck Offal (Minus the Duck)
Why on Earth do people buy a medicine with no medicine in it? The back of the box clearly says “Active ingredient Anas barbariae, 200 CK HPUS.” I suspect most customers don’t bother to read that, and if they do, they don’t know what it means.
Newborn Babies Don’t Have Sex, So Why Do We Vaccinate Them for a Sexually Transmitted Disease?
So babies don’t have sex, abuse drugs, or share razors. And mothers can be tested for the virus; if they don’t have it, there is no risk of them transmitting it to their babies. So are there any valid reasons to vaccinate newborns?
Screening Tests and Primum non nocere
Nonmaleficence says don’t harm the patient; beneficence says help the patient. There’s a trade-off, since almost every treatment carries some small degree of risk. Not treating may do more harm than treating.
Zombie Criticisms of Conventional Medicine
Critics of modern medicine would do well to follow my “SkepDoc’s Rule:” Before you accept a claim, try to understand who disagrees with it and why.
“Biomagnetism Therapy”: Pseudoscientific Twaddle
In a television interview, a practitioner of biomagnetic therapy claimed she had cured her own breast lump and the metastatic cancer of another person. I wonder how many viewers believed her.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Didn’t Win a Nobel Prize, Scientific Medicine Did
Tu Youyou, a Chinese researcher, was awarded half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of artemisinin, a malaria drug. This has been touted as a victory for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and herbalism. It is anything but.
Someone is always trying to tell us what to eat. It’s like religions: they can’t all be right, and they might all be wrong.
Physician Wallace Sampson, Expert on False Medical Claims, Dies at Eighty-Five
The skeptical community has lost a shining star. On May 25, 2015, Wallace Sampson, MD, died in California at the age of eighty-five from complications of heart surgery; he had been in the hospital since February.
Pesticides: Just How Bad Are They?
Scientific balance and objective assessments of evidence are necessary to avoid biased and misleading answers to concerns about pesticides.
Defending Science-Based Medicine: 44 Doctor-Bashing Arguments …and Their Rebuttals
Supporters of alternative medicine and purveyors of quack remedies love to criticize conventional medicine and science. They keep repeating the same tired arguments that are easily rebutted. This handy guide will help skeptics answer common criticisms from doctor-bashers.
An Introduction to Homeopathy
A brief guide to a popular alternative system of remedies based on a nineteenth-century concept that has no scientific validity.
Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection
The medical ethics principle of autonomy justifies letting competent adults reject lifesaving medical care for themselves because of their religious beliefs, but it does not extend to rejecting medical care for children.
An Intro to Homeopathy
Homeopathy is an alternative system of medicine that was invented by a German doctor at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Scientific knowledge about chemistry, physics, and biology tells us it should not work; careful testing has shown that it does not work.
Down the Garden Path: Faulty Thinking and Self-Delusion
A Navy neurologist’s credulous venture into acupuncture advocacy serves as a useful case study. Here are twelve mistakes he made rambling down the garden path of self-delusion.
Do You Believe in Magic?
A review of Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul Offit, MD.
Tooth Fairy Science and Other Pitfalls: Applying Rigorous Science to Messy Medicine, Part 2
Part 2 of Harriet Hall, MD’s presentation from the 2009 Skeptic’s Toolbox conference.
Tooth Fairy Science and Other Pitfalls: Applying Rigorous Science to Messy Medicine, Part 1
Part 1 of Harriet Hall, MD’s presentation from the 2009 Skeptic’s Toolbox conference.