junk science

In case anyone still had any lingering reservations about Dr. Oz's quack status, he removed all doubt in his recent endorsement of astrology.

Just to clarify, that would be astrology, not astronomy. The latter is a real science that studies the universe; the former is what fortune tellers and tabloid newspapers use to dupe gullible people into buying their products. It's not even fair to call astrology "junk science" or "pseudoscience," because that implies astrology is at least based on something resembling science. But it is not. It is unadulterated charlatanism. The positions of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky have absolutely no relevance to your life -- unless you own a telescope.

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Let's pretend that researchers are investigating acts of violence between players during hockey games. And let's further pretend that they are interested in determining if violent behavior has a racial component.

Would you be surprised to find out that most acts of violence happen between white players? Well, of course not. The National Hockey League (NHL) consists almost exclusively of white people. (A figure from 2011 claims the league is 93% white.) So, if the researchers do not control for the fact that most hockey players are white, they could come to the erroneous conclusion that white hockey players are more likely to be violent.

For this reason,...

Dr. Oz is a fraud who ought to be fired from Columbia University and have his medical license revoked. Instead, he'll be headed to the White House.

In a press release, the Trump Administration announced its plan to appoint America's Quack to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. This is an abomination to the biomedical science community.

It is impossible to overstate how ridiculously inept this decision is. Founded in 1956 by President Eisenhower, the Council is largely symbolic. Members...

A hot rock massage and herbal tea might make you feel nice, but they don't actually cure anything. Pointing that out in China, however, might land a person in jail.

Dr. Tan Qindong was just released after spending three months in a Chinese jail, and is now possibly awaiting trial, for the crime of criticizing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), according to Nature News. He learned the hard way that speaking the truth about biomedical science is a very bad career move in that country.

In a blog post, Dr. Tan, who is an anesthesiologist and entrepreneur, said that a popular TCM drug called "Hongmao Medicinal Liquor" was poison. Very little information is available about this particular...

April is National Autism Awareness Month. One of the biggest goals of autism research is to determine its cause, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to rule out the things that do not cause it. So, let's acknowledge this month by listing all the things that do not cause autism.

Vaccines. A substantial proportion of people refuse to accept the reality that vaccines do not cause autism. This was never controversial in the scientific community. After the fraud Andrew Wakefield published his sham "study" linking vaccines to autism, the New England Journal of Medicine...

Bras do not cause breast cancer. They are listed by Susan G. Komen alongside abortion, implants, caffeine, cell phones, deodorant, and electromagnetic fields as things that do not cause breast cancer.

An activist husband-and-wife team disagree. In 1995, they published a book called Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. Because scaring people is an excellent way to make money, they are releasing a second edition of the book this year. And for good measure, they are recruiting women into a sham cohort study to "prove" their wacky belief.

Before we debunk this junk study...

I can’t just say happy birthday to this book — after all it’s pretty much anti-birth. But that’s what the book really was — an early harbinger of the many scares put out by this group or that. According to Ehrlich, by the end of the 1970s, we should have seen mass starvation on a level never witnessed before:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. (1)

However, we seem be still be here, and in spite of some famines and numerous deadly wars since 1968, the world population has continued to increase. That’s not to say that everyone has enough to eat, or clean water to drink, but we certainly don’t seem to be on the cusp...

Last week, international media outlets reported that asparagus causes cancer. It does not.

Like a series of bad sequels, the media is back with yet another terribly botched story. This time, the claim is that using household cleaning sprays is like smoking 20 cigarettes per day. Wrong again.

The study, which used a cohort design, examined lung capacity and function among...

One of the top trending Google searches at the time of this writing was "asparagine," one of the roughly 20 amino acids that make up the proteins in our bodies and in our food.

Why was this rather boring molecule that biology majors are forced to memorize grabbing international headlines? Because, according to the media, it causes cancer. And where can you find asparagine? It can be found in any food that contains protein -- which is a lot of foods -- including asparagus, the vegetable after which it was named.

Thus, asparagus causes cancer.

Think I'm joking? I'm not. This headline is from The Times of London:

This...

One of the many problems with academia is that it allows nutcases to flourish.

Consider Columbia University. It employs both Dr. Oz, "America's Quack," and Mark Bittman, a former organic food warrior for the New York Times who was once described as a "scourge on science." UC-Berkeley has Joel Moskowitz on staff, a "wi-fi truther" who thinks that...