News and Views

I recently wrote an article about a young, healthy woman who went to a healer (likely a naturopath), received an IV of turmeric as a treatment for eczema, and died as a result of it. 

Although some of the details of this case remain under investigation, the information comes from the medical examiner's report which stated that the woman died from, "anoxic encephalopathy due to prolonged resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to adverse reaction to infused turmeric solution.”

In response to my article of a tragic tale of people practicing dangerous methods of pseudo-medicine, and healthy people ending up dead, I...

In last week's episode of Shark Tank, the five "sharks" elevated themselves from wealthy, successful business people to champions of science.

I caught the episode that had originally aired in November, where Catharine Arnston, the Founder/CEO of the Boston based company ENERGYbits made her pitch for their support of her algae supplement company. 

The sharks listened to her attentively but, it became quickly apparent when they started asking her questions, that they were not satisfied with her answers regarding both the finances and the science behind her product. But, I am not here to question the sharks decisions about their money. I am here to praise each of them on their decision not to invest in this snake oil...

Given the media attention devoted to weak observational claims about health (miracle vegetables, chemophobia of the month) and the rampant mistrust of science that has resulted, it is worth asking if they're worth the expense at all. 

The answer is that they probably are, though only for smaller programs. 

If you are not familiar with the term, an observational study is just what it sounds like; in contrast to an experiment, which is what most people think of as science, an observational study instead observes a population to see what they have in common, such as the impact of various lifestyle and environmental factors on diseases. There are two types of observational studies: case-control and cohort. In my short primer ...

A new paper in JAMA Cardiology titled Long-term Safety and Efficacy of Achieving Very Low Levels of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol found that very aggressive lowering of LDL-C (bad cholesterol) was not associated with an increased incidence of safety problems and demonstrated that the efficacy composite of cardiovascular death, major coronary events, and stroke were ‘significantly’ lower.  

This has been a concern from some.

Here is the science:

  • It was a data mining expedition into the...

Scientists are humans, too. And, just like other humans you know, some of them aren't very good at their jobs. There are three main ways in which scientists can mess up.

First, some scientists feel as if they have something valuable to say on any topic under the sun. (Far too often, it's politics.) Like those suffering from the dreaded Nobel Disease, they act as if their true expertise in one subject gives them wide latitude to speak boldly on every subject. They are wrong.

Consider a poll of scientists who belong to the American Association for...

One of the major reasons scientific research is facing a reproducibility problem is because of poor use of statistics. In a bombshell 2005 article that still reverberates in the halls of academia (and industry), John Ioannidis used mathematics to coolly demonstrate why most published research findings are false1

Statistics is difficult, and choosing the proper tools becomes more challenging as experiments become more complex. That's why it's not uncommon for large genetics or epidemiological studies to have a biostatistician as a co-author. Perhaps more...

You may be aware that suicides among working-aged men are on the rise. While people will make cultural or political hay from that - the last administration killed the middle class, men are under assault in society - one thing is clear: It's a mental health issue and early intervention is important.

Meanwhile, policy makers are in a rush to repeal and replace mental health benefits, basically by saying  those are not an ‘essential’ medical benefit. I do not presume to know the mental state of the members of Congress behind this decision, but here is what a cursory look at mental health in the United States shows us.

...

It is one thing for a naturopath to push turmeric, the latest fad in fancy snake oils, as a cure all for everything from your bad sex life to diabetes. Because turmeric is metabolized so quickly in the stomach (it is used in food, after all) it is generally not dangerous and amounts to a lot of false hopes and wasted money.

It is another thing entirely for these 'healers' to hook a healthy person up to an IV and pump turmeric into their veins.

Unfortunately, that is what happened to Jade Erick, a 30 year-old woman who is dead because she opted for 'holistic health' to treat her eczema. Our vascular surgeon, Dr. Charles Dinerstein, suggests that, based on the...

Every discussion about postmodernism quickly devolves into accusations that the writer doesn't know what postermodernism is1. Of course, that's true, because nobody knows what postmodernism is. Even the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy agrees2. As the ultimate manifestation of intellectual and cultural relativism, postmodernism means whatever its adherents want it to mean.

Yet, this nebulous concept poses an existential threat to science and technology. How so? Because postmodernism is largely characterized by a rejection of objective truth. This is antithetical to scientific inquiry.

Marcel Kuntz, Director of Research at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), has made it part of his life's work to...

We get email.

Liar. Jerk. Sock puppet. Propagandist. Criminal. Corporate slut. Satan's minion1. These are just a few of the names Dr. Josh Bloom and I have been called -- and that was just last week.  

What did we do to earn such reprobation? Were we cavorting with Gordon Gekko? Lobotomizing patients with Nurse Ratched? Sacrificing goats? Nope. In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, we explained why Wi-Fi is safe. And that's when the pitchforks came out.

The smartest reader2 commented:

Microwave ovens use 2.45 GHz to cook food. Most wi-fi also uses 2.45 GHz microwaves. So what is the difference between the...