The deadly false hope of German cancer clinics

Science-Based Medicine - March 26, 2018 - 3:54am
We at SBM have written about German cancer clinics that offer a combination of cancer quackery, some real medicine, plus unproven experimental therapies, all at a high cost, both financially and in false hope. Finally, an exposé of these clinics has been published. What these clinics are doing is even worse than even we had feared.
Categories: Science

A Woman Dies from a Severe Allergic Reaction After Live Bee Acupuncture Session

Science-Based Medicine - March 23, 2018 - 8:00am
A woman in Spain has died from a severe allergic reaction after a session of live bee acupuncture. With low plausibility, the potential for fatal outcomes, and no evidence to suggest that benefits outweigh even minor side effects, this is an intervention that should be avoided.
Categories: Science

Border Trilogy Part 1: Hole in the Fence

Radiolab Podcasts - March 23, 2018 - 3:40am

Border Trilogy:

While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh.

This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.”

Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it.


Part 1: Hole in the Fence:

We begin one afternoon in May 1992, when a student named Albert stumbled in late for history class at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas.  His excuse: Border Patrol. Soon more stories of students getting stopped and harassed by Border Patrol started pouring in. So begins the unlikely story of how a handful of Mexican-American high schoolers in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country stood up to what is today the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency.   They had no way of knowing at the time, but what would follow was a chain of events that would drastically change the US-Mexico border.

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte and was produced by Matt Kielty, Bethel Habte, Tracie Hunte and Latif Nasser. 

Special thanks to Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Estela Reyes López, Barbara Hines, Francesca Begos and Nancy Wiese from Hachette Book Group, Professor Michael Olivas at the University of Houston Law Center, and Josiah McC. Heyman, Ph.D, Director, Center for Interamerican and Border Studies and Professor of Anthropology.

Support Radiolab today at

Categories: Science

PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer

Science-Based Medicine - March 22, 2018 - 8:00am
PSA testing is controversial. A new study finds that PSA screening for prostate cancer offers no survival benefits.
Categories: Science

Music for ADHD?

Science-Based Medicine - March 21, 2018 - 8:17am claims it can improve concentration and help with ADHD. At the very least I see such claims as highly implausible, and not something we can conclude from the existing basic science research. I have no problem with doing clinical research, and maybe we might learn something about how the brain regulates attention that can be exploited. But marketing products in the meantime based on this dubious support is deceptive and amounts to little more than typical pseudoscientific snake oil.
Categories: Science

The Ethics of CAM: More Harm than Good?

Science-Based Medicine - March 20, 2018 - 3:00am
A new book examines the ethics of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM. Ernst and Smith demonstrate that CAM is inherently unethical and does more harm than good.
Categories: Science

ICD-11: A triumph of the “integration” of quackery with real medicine

Science-Based Medicine - March 19, 2018 - 3:55am
ICD-10 is an a standardized system of alphanumeric codes for diagnoses maintained by the World Health Organization used throughout the world for billing, epidemiology, research, and cataloging causes of death. Its successor, ICD-11, is nearing completion, and unfortunately appears to be taking the "integration" of traditional medicine to a whole new level by integrating quack diagnoses with real diagnoses.
Categories: Science

Are Rattlesnake Vaccines for Dogs Effective?

Science-Based Medicine - March 16, 2018 - 3:00am
A company is now selling a rattlesnake venom vaccine. How much can we trust it when it comes to the health and safety of our dogs? Right now, it's too early to tell.
Categories: Science

Rippin’ the Rainbow an Even Newer One

Radiolab Podcasts - March 15, 2018 - 6:00pm

One of our most popular episodes of all time was our Colors episode, where we introduced you to a sea creature that could see a rainbow far beyond what humans can experience.

Peacock mantis shrimps are as extraordinary as they are strange and boast what may well be the most complicated visual system in the world. They each have 16 photoreceptors compared to our measly three. But recently researchers in Australia put the mantis shrimps’ eyes to the test only to discover that sure, they can SEE lots of colors, but that doesn't mean they can tell them apart.

In fact, when two colors are close together - like yellow and yellow-y green - they can’t seem to tell them apart at all.  

MORE ON COLORS: There was a time -- between the flickery black-and-white films of yore and the hi-def color-corrected movies we watch today -- when color was in flux. Check out this blog post on how colors made it to the big screen from our director of research, Latif Nasser. 

Our original episode was produced by Tim Howard and Pat Walters. This update was produced by Amanda Aronczyk.

Special thanks to Chris Martin of Creative Aquarium Nation, Phil Weissman, David Gebel and Kate Hinds for lending us their colorful garments. Also thanks to Michael Kerschner, Elisa Nikoloulias and the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, as well as Chase Culpon and The Greene Space team.

Support Radiolab today at

Categories: Science

More Political Science: Proposed laws protect “Lyme literate” doctors from discipline

Science-Based Medicine - March 15, 2018 - 1:00am
"Lyme literate" doctors are scamming patients out of thousands of dollars with needless long-term antibiotics based on a fake diagnosis of "chronic Lyme." So why are state legislators trying to protect these doctors from discipline and make insurers pay for unnecessary treatments?
Categories: Science

Facilitated Communication Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Science-Based Medicine - March 14, 2018 - 8:16am
Facilitated communication is pure pseudoscience that was debunked almost 30 years ago, but it keeps coming back, creating new victims.
Categories: Science

Coca’s Pulse Testing to Diagnose “Allergies”

Science-Based Medicine - March 13, 2018 - 3:00am
In the 1950s, Dr. Coca invented an elaborate method to diagnose a new kind of "allergy" by testing the pulse rate. He thought "allergies" were the underlying cause of most disease. His method has never been tested, but there is every reason to think it is bogus.
Categories: Science

The adverse health effects of the lunacy that is Daylight Saving Time

Science-Based Medicine - March 12, 2018 - 3:52am
Daylight Saving Time has been around for 100 years. Why does it still persist when there's no evidence that it saves energy and growing evidence of the harms it causes? That's a good question.
Categories: Science

A Miscellany of Medical Malarkey Episode 3: The Revengening

Science-Based Medicine - March 9, 2018 - 7:00am
A setback for bogus marketing claims for fancy athletic tape. E-cigarettes aren't a good Christmans stocking stuffer for your kids. An update on the European measles outbreak. That's right, it's time for another miscellany of medical malarkey!
Categories: Science

It doesn’t have to hurt: Strategies to reduce vaccine pain

Science-Based Medicine - March 8, 2018 - 8:00am
To address anti-vaccine views, try to understand the underlying motives for these perspectives. Some reject vaccines because of underlying fears of the pain of vaccination. Several strategies can effectively decrease vaccine pain.
Categories: Science

Too Many Too Soon? No!

Science-Based Medicine - March 7, 2018 - 7:48am
The results of a study looking at, in part, the "too many, too soon" complaints of antivaccination activists were completely negative. There was no difference in vaccine antigen exposure between two groups who differed in the number of infections over a two year period. Therefore there is no correlation between vaccine antigen exposure and susceptibility to other infections.
Categories: Science

The Debate Is Over: Antidepressants DO Work Better Than Placebo

Science-Based Medicine - March 6, 2018 - 3:00am
The idea that antidepressants are no more effective than placebo has been put to rest. They clearly work when used appropriately, although the effect size is not as large as the published studies have suggested.
Categories: Science

Texas: Ground zero for the politicization of school vaccine mandates

Science-Based Medicine - March 5, 2018 - 3:00am
Vaccine policies and school vaccine mandates have traditionally been as close to a nonpartisan issue as there can be in the US. Unfortunately, in Texas antivaccine activists and conservative activists threaten to change that. The antivaccine group Texans for Vaccine Choice has formed an unholy alliance with antiregulation conservative activists to attack school vaccine mandates. Antivaxers all over the country are doing the same thing.
Categories: Science

Congress can easily end Medicare waste, fraud and abuse by chiropractors, saving billions

Science-Based Medicine - March 1, 2018 - 1:00am
Yet another government report finds chiropractors are bilking Medicare billions for unnecessary services. A simple amendment to the Medicare law could end this, but will Congress act?
Categories: Science

Where Are We With the Replication “Crisis”

Science-Based Medicine - February 28, 2018 - 8:11am
The replication problem is not as bad as the sensational reporting has suggested. But it is still a legitimate issue that needs to be addressed. 
Categories: Science