The Return of the Miscellany of Medical Malarkey Strikes Back

Science-Based Medicine - October 19, 2018 - 7:00am
The flu season is upon us, as is the first pediatric death. A polio-like illness is spreading, and experts are baffled. Kids probably shouldn't be around giant spinning metallic blades. Magic tape! You guessed it, another miscellany of medical malarkey has risen from the grave.
Categories: Science

In the No Part 2

Radiolab Podcasts - October 19, 2018 - 12:00am

In the year since accusations of sexual assault were first brought against Harvey Weinstein, our news has been flooded with stories of sexual misconduct, indicting very visible figures in our public life. Most of these cases have involved unequivocal breaches of consent, some of which have been criminal. But what have also emerged are conversations surrounding more difficult situations to parse – ones that exist in a much grayer space. When we started our own reporting through this gray zone, we stumbled into a challenging conversation that we can’t stop thinking about. In this second episode of ‘In the No’, we speak with Hanna Stotland, an educational consultant who specializes in crisis management. Her clients include students who have been expelled from school for sexual misconduct. In the aftermath, Hanna helps them reapply to school. While Hanna shares some of her more nuanced and confusing cases, we wrestle with questions of culpability, generational divides, and the utility of fear in changing our culture.

Advisory: This episode contains some graphic language and descriptions of very sensitive sexual situations, including discussions of sexual assault, consent and accountability, which may be very difficult for people to listen to. Visit The National Sexual Assault Hotline at for resources and support. 

This episode was reported with help from Becca Bressler and Shima Oliaee, and produced with help from Rachael Cusick. 

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Categories: Science

Drugs in your supplements

Science-Based Medicine - October 18, 2018 - 9:00am
Supplements are a billion-dollar business, but quality control is questionable. A new study shows that supplements may be adulterated with unlabelled prescription drugs.
Categories: Science

Oh, The Humanity – Our Urge To Escape

The Bird's Brain - October 16, 2018 - 2:58pm

I understand the need to escape from reality. There come moments when the pressures of the real world just get to be too much. Flight can be easier than fight. It can help to escape into a book, movie, or “mindless” television watching. But, problems arise when this escapism becomes something practiced by society writ-large rather than being momentary acts of individuals. There are two very different places this society-level escapist attitude is openly playing out: willful ignorance within certain demographics and virtual-reality technologists.

People who refuse to look cultural or environmental change in the face in favor of sticking their fingers in their ears and repeating misinformation and disproven ideas are escaping into the comfort of their own identities. When online conversations turn into shouting matches where no one is listening to each other, it is likely because at least one side has escaped from the present reality. When someone refuses to listen to empirical, rational ideas in favor of what they heard on Fox News or read on Breitbart, being willfully ignorant of advances in understanding, it is because what they know is more comfortable than this new information.

When willful ignorance plays out on the wider political stage it begins to have real consequences. It becomes more than a spat between individuals. It holds back progress on large issues like climate change. For, if a large proportion of the public has run away from the scary idea of dangerous impending environmental change, refusing to see the reality, that reality does not exist for them. And, if it doesn’t exist, why does anything need to be done?

The second group, one you would think totally unrelated to the willfully ignorant, are the very well-educated and informed technologists working on developing virtual reality. At first glance, virtual reality with its goggles and gloves seems like it should be categorized along with the personal escapist entertainments like books, games, and movies. But, I see it in a different light when I consider the eventual goal of a virtual reality; that many look forward to the day that we create a construct into which humans will upload their consciousness.

The people working to create the technology that will allow humanity to shed its flesh, are looking forward to escape. They aren’t trying to fix any problems in this reality. Rather, they are building a new reality. One in which they envision no hunger, no poverty, and eternal life. It sounds like Heaven.

But, who needs Heaven if you have a computer generated existence? Or, well, who needs to fix anything here and now, if we have an escape hatch?

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Categories: Science

Gold Water, Silver Water, Copper Water

Science-Based Medicine - October 16, 2018 - 3:00am
Ayurveda recommends gold water, silver water, and copper water to treat various conditions. There is no evidence that they work or even that they contain gold, silver, or copper.
Categories: Science

My Cancer Free Life: A reality series designed to promote Stanislaw Burzynski’s quackery

Science-Based Medicine - October 15, 2018 - 3:00am
Stanislaw Burzynski has been selling a dubious treatment known as antineoplastons to desperate cancer patients since the late 1970s. Unfortunately, there are those who are all too willing to promote the myth of a Brave Maverick Doctor who can cure cancer. Several years ago, it was Eric Merola. Now it's Uchenna Agu, a reality TV star turned producer. He plans on making a reality docuseries featuring patients "cured of cancer" by Burzynski. Worse, local Houston station KHOU-TV promoted his project on its morning show Great Day Houston.
Categories: Science

Thermography is Not Approved for Breast Cancer Screening in Canada

Science-Based Medicine - October 12, 2018 - 3:00am
Breast cancer thermography is being promoted across Canada as a reliable and effective way of identifying breast tumors. There is no evidence thermography is actually capable of doing so.
Categories: Science

In the No Part 1

Radiolab Podcasts - October 11, 2018 - 6:00pm

In 2017, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest released a mini-series called "No" about her personal struggle to understand and communicate about sexual consent. That show, which dives into the experience, moment by moment, of navigating sexual intimacy, struck a chord with many of us. It's gorgeous, deeply personal, and incredibly thoughtful. And it seemed to presage a much larger conversation that is happening all around us in this moment. And so we decided to embark, with Kaitlin, on our own exploration of this topic. Over the next three episodes, we'll wander into rooms full of college students, hear from academics and activists, and sit in on classes about BDSM. But to start things off, we are going to share with you the story that started it all. Today, meet Kaitlin (if you haven't already). 

In The No Part 1 is a collaboration with Kaitlin Prest. It was produced with help from Becca Bressler.

The "No" series, from The Heart was created by writer/director Kaitlin Prest, editors Sharon Mashihi and Mitra Kaboli, assistant producers Ariel Hahn and Phoebe Wang, associate sound design and music composition Shani Aviram.

Check out Kaitlin's new show, The Shadows.

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Categories: Science

A right to science

Science-Based Medicine - October 11, 2018 - 1:00am
Unless forced to do so, the state and federal governments will continue to base law and policy on bad science. Maybe it's time for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a "right to science."
Categories: Science

Debunking the magical power of the placebo effect for chronic pain (yet again)

Science-Based Medicine - October 10, 2018 - 3:00am
The opioid crisis and growing awareness of the dangers of addiction to pain medication are prompting renewed calls for the use of pill placebos in place of active treatments, backed by familiar claims about the magical powers of the placebo.
Categories: Science

AAFP Promotes Acupuncture

Science-Based Medicine - October 9, 2018 - 3:00am
The AAFP is not following its own standards for CME. Its monograph on Musculoskeletal Therapies devotes 1/4 of its content to acupuncture, dry needling, and cupping; and one of its four "key practice recommendations" is to consider electroacupuncture for fibromyalgia.
Categories: Science

Cancer disparities: It’s money that matters (along with a lot of other things)

Science-Based Medicine - October 8, 2018 - 3:13am
Cancer is a complex set of diseases. I commonly discuss complexities in its biology and treatment. However, there's another layer of complexity that leads to marked disparities in cancer incidence and death rates. One major factor associated with such disparities is socioeconomic status.
Categories: Science

Vigorous Chiropractic Adjustment Associated with Potentially Serious Eye Injury

Science-Based Medicine - October 5, 2018 - 7:00am
Can vigorous adjustment of the neck cause direct injury to your eye? Probably, but I don't know. This is based on a single case report. Still, I wouldn't take the chance. And why do I keep mentioning dugongs?
Categories: Science

What happened to the Lyme vaccine?

Science-Based Medicine - October 4, 2018 - 8:20am
You can vaccinate your dog against Lyme disease, but there's no vaccine for humans. Why?
Categories: Science

World Health Organization Endorses Quackery

Science-Based Medicine - October 3, 2018 - 8:15am
The World Health Organization fails its primary function by promoting traditional quackery.
Categories: Science

More About Flu Vaccine

Science-Based Medicine - October 2, 2018 - 3:00am
More evidence that flu shots work, that they are safe during pregnancy, and that they don't cause autism.
Categories: Science

A whole issue of JACM devoted to “integrative oncology” propaganda? Oh, goody.

Science-Based Medicine - October 1, 2018 - 3:41am
Last week, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a Special Focus Issue on "integrative oncology." In reality, it's propaganda that promotes pseudoscience and the "integration" of quackery into oncology.
Categories: Science

Breaking Bad News Bears

Radiolab Podcasts - September 28, 2018 - 6:00am

Today, a challenge: bear with us.

We decided to shake things up at the show so we threw our staff a curveball, Walter Matthau-style. In two weeks time we told our producers to pitch, report, and produce stories about breaking news….or bears. What emerged was a sort of love letter for our honey-loving friends and a discovery that they embody so much more than we could have imagined: a town’s symbol for hope, a celebrity, a foe, and a clue to future ways we’ll deal with our changing environment. 

This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler, Molly Webster, Bethel Habte, Pat Walters, Matt Kielty, Rachael Cusick, Annie McEwen and Latif Nasser.

Special thanks to Wendy Card, Marlene Zuk, Karyn Rode, Barbara Nielsen and Steven Amstrup at Polar Bears International, Jimmy Thomson and Adam Kudlak.

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Categories: Science

Reporting on the edge: Authority, dog whistles, and the politics of the unknown

Science-Based Medicine - September 28, 2018 - 3:00am
Beatrice Golomb, MD, has appeared in the news arguing "mysterious symptoms" experienced by Cuban diplomats are due to electromagnetic radiation. Though quoted by The New York Times and published in a peer-reviewed journal, are her opinions credible?
Categories: Science

AAFP should publish research behind finding that functional medicine lacks evidence, contains harmful and dangerous practices

Science-Based Medicine - September 27, 2018 - 1:00am
For public's health and safety, AAFP should publish research behind finding that functional medicine lacks evidence, contains harmful and dangerous practices.
Categories: Science