Ghosts of Football Past

Radiolab Podcasts - February 3, 2018 - 7:08pm

In anticipation of Super Bowl LII (Go Eagles), we're revisiting an old episode about the surprising history of how the game came to be. It's the end of the 19th century -- the Civil War is over, and the frontier is dead. And young college men are anxious. What great struggle will test their character? Then along comes a new craze: football. A brutally violent game where young men can show a stadium full of fans just what they're made of. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn -- the sons of the most powerful men in the country are literally knocking themselves out to win these gladiatorial battles. And then the most American team of all, with the most to prove, gets in the game and owns it. The Carlisle Indian School, formed in 1879 to assimilate the children and grandchildren of the men who fought the final Plains Wars against the fathers and grandfathers of the Ivy Leaguers, starts challenging the best teams in the country. On the football field, Carlisle had a chance for a fair fight with high stakes -- a chance to earn respect, a chance to be winners, and a chance to go forward in a changing world that was destroying theirs. 

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Categories: Science

Kennedy, Fisher and Bigtree: a triple dose of anti-vaccine injected into upcoming chiropractic conference

Science-Based Medicine - February 1, 2018 - 1:00am
Even as the flu rages, chiropractors will be stoking their anti-vaccination ideology at a March conference with speeches from anti-vaxx Illuminati Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Barbara Loe Fisher and Del Bigtree.
Categories: Science

Vision Therapy Quackery

Science-Based Medicine - January 31, 2018 - 8:29am
Behavioral optometry claims to treat a wide range of disorders, including learning difficulty and attention problems. But these claims are not based on solid scientific ground, and are not supported by rigorous evidence.
Categories: Science

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - One Nation, Under Money

Radiolab Podcasts - January 31, 2018 - 3:00am

An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for growing too much wheat on his farm, to enforcing the end of racial segregation nationwide. That is, if the federal government can make an economic case for it. This seemingly all-powerful tool has the potential to unite the 50 states into one nation and protect the civil liberties of all. But it also challenges us to consider: when we make everything about money, what does it cost us?

Categories: Science

Broken Brain

Science-Based Medicine - January 30, 2018 - 3:00am
In his new video series, Dr. Mark Hyman says your brain is broken and functional medicine can fix it. He mixes conventional healthy lifestyle advice with highly questionable claims and recommendations based on speculation rather than on evidence.
Categories: Science

The effort of integrative medicine advocates to co-opt the opioid crisis to claim non pharmacological treatments for pain as solely theirs continues apace

Science-Based Medicine - January 29, 2018 - 3:34am
Last week, I wrote about how advocates for quackery were trying and succeeding to persuade state Medicaid agencies to pay for acupuncture for pain. This week, I discuss how they are promoting the integration of quackery with medicine. In this case, they are promoting a white paper and trying to influence the AHRQ.
Categories: Science

A Preventable Infection Claims the Life of a 6-Year-Old Florida Child

Science-Based Medicine - January 26, 2018 - 8:00am
Rabies is an incredibly deadly infection, but one that is virtually 100% preventable. Unfortunately a Florida child recently paid the ultimate price when his parents failed to seek out appropriate medical care for a bat bite, and despite an experimental but flawed treatment protocol.
Categories: Science

Georgian College’s Homeopathy Program: Magical Thinking Presented as Fact

Science-Based Medicine - January 25, 2018 - 9:00am
Georgian College in Ontario, Canada is now offering a 3-year advanced diploma in the pseudoscience of homeopathy.
Categories: Science

Mental Illness Denial

Science-Based Medicine - January 24, 2018 - 12:13pm
This is really hard, and we have limited knowledge, but we have accumulated enough knowledge about mental health and illness to take a practical approach to many patients and to help them improve their lives. This should include the full range of options available, including medication and counseling. To deny the role of medication can do great harm to those who may need it.
Categories: Science

Fake News About Margarine

Science-Based Medicine - January 23, 2018 - 3:00am
An alarmist email is circulating with misinformation about margarine. A little fact-checking shows that both margarine and butter can be part of a healthy diet.
Categories: Science

The Voice in Your Head - A Tribute to Joe Frank

Radiolab Podcasts - January 23, 2018 - 12:03am

How do you pay proper tribute to a legend that many people haven’t heard of?

We began asking ourselves this question last week when the visionary radio producer Joe Frank passed away, after a long struggle with colon cancer.  Joe Frank was the radio producer’s radio producer.  He told stories that were thrillingly weird, deeply mischievous (and sometimes head-spinningly confusing!). He had a big impact on us at Radiolab.  For Jad, his Joe Frank moment happened in 2002, while sitting at a mixing console in an AM radio studio waiting to read the weather.  Joe Frank's Peabody Award-winning series "Rent-A-Family” came on the air.

Time stood still.

We’ve since learned that many of our peers have had similar Joe Frank moments.

In this episode, we commemorate one of the greats with Brooke Gladstone from On the Media and Ira Glass from This American Life. 

This episode was produced by Jad Abumrad with help from Kelly Prime and Sarah Qari. 

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Categories: Science

“Integrative medicine” advocates: Co-opting the opioid crisis to promote funding for acupuncture by Medicaid

Science-Based Medicine - January 22, 2018 - 3:47am
The opioid epidemic is a serious public health crisis in the U.S., and new tools and treatments to deal with chronic pain are urgently needed. Unfortunately, where public health officials see a crisis, advocates of "integrating" quackery with science-based medicine see an opportunity. In this case, promoters of pseudomedicine are taking advantage of the opioid crisis to persuade state Medicaid systems to pay for quackery like acupuncture.
Categories: Science

Legislative Alchemy 2017: Acupuncture

Science-Based Medicine - January 19, 2018 - 1:00am
Acupuncture is nothing more than a theatrical placebo. Yet acupuncturists, defined as primary care practitioners in some states, are succeeding in licensing and practice expansion efforts in state legislatures.
Categories: Science

Cancer quack Colleen Huber sues Britt Hermes over criticism

Science-Based Medicine - January 18, 2018 - 1:00am
Naturopathic cancer quack Colleen Huber is attempting to silence criticism of her practices by suing Britt Hermes. Help Britt fight back with a donation to help defray legal expenses.
Categories: Science

Infiltrative Pseudoscience

Science-Based Medicine - January 17, 2018 - 8:20am
If you don't think that CAM is the enemy of science in medicine, then you don't understand CAM and its proponents. Don't be fooled by their marketing. They want a return to the pre-scientific days when health gurus could sell any snake oil they want at exorbitant prices, with any hyped claims that they want, without going through all that tedious science. 
Categories: Science

The Elephant in the Compounding Pharmacy

Science-Based Medicine - January 16, 2018 - 3:00am
Contaminated products from compounding pharmacies have harmed and even killed patients. Quality control measures are being implemented, but there is a bigger problem: the injudicious use of untested and potentially dangerous treatments.
Categories: Science

The final push to pass a federal version of the cruel sham of “right-to-try” is under way

Science-Based Medicine - January 15, 2018 - 3:44am
Right-to-try laws are a cruel sham that claim to help terminally ill patients by providing them with earlier access to experimental therapeutics, even though they do very little in this regard. Promoted primarily by the libertarian think tank the Goldwater Institute, in reality they are a strategy to weaken the FDA's regulatory power to assure that marketed drugs are safe and effective. Now, a final push is on, with the help of the Koch brothers, to pass right-to-try. For the sake of patients, this push must fail.
Categories: Science

Remembrance of Things Past

Science-Based Medicine - January 13, 2018 - 12:57pm
Well maybe not  “memorializing his dandyism and parvenu hijinks even as he revealed their essential hollowness” but Flies in the Ointment: Essays on Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (SCAM)  is now available on Amazon and is A carefully selected and edited compendium of the best of Dr. Mark Crislip (the Puswhisperer’s) blog posts from The sections have been edited for redundancy, updated […]
Categories: Science

Legionnaires’ Disease: The Other Disneyland Outbreak

Science-Based Medicine - January 12, 2018 - 8:00am
As 2017 came to a close, Disneyland again played a role in the outbreak of an infectious disease, this one much more deadly than measles.
Categories: Science

Medical Marijuana: Where is the evidence?

Science-Based Medicine - January 11, 2018 - 10:00am
Marijuana is widely touted as an effective medicine for an array of conditions. But what does the evidence actually tell us?
Categories: Science