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Practicing Evidence-Based Medicine

An excellent article in ProPublica by David Epstein discusses the problem of doctors not adhering to the best evidence-based standards. The full article is worth a read, and I won’t just repeat it here, but I do want to highlight a few points which align well with what I have been writing here and at SBM […]

Natural News Delisted from Google

It appears that Google has removed all Natural News content from their indexing. This means that Natural News pages will not appear in organic Google searches. This is big news for skeptics, but it is also complicated and sure to spark vigorous discussion. For those who may not know, Mike Adams, who runs Natural News, […]

‘Replace male doctors with female ones and save at least 32,000 lives each year’?

The authors of a recent article in JAMA Internal Medicine “Physician Gender and Outcomes of Hospitalized Medicare Beneficiaries in the U.S.,” Yusuke Tsugawa, Anupam B. Jena, Jose F. Figueroa, E. John Orav, Daniel M. Blumenthal,

Potential New Pain Drug from Snail Venom

Researchers have published in PNAS promising results from a snail venom analogue used in the treatment of pain. This is exciting for a number of reasons, even if the current compounds under study do not pan out. Pain is a difficult clinical problem. There are limited options for treating chronic pain and we can quickly […]

The Science of the Rorschach Blots

When the psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach blotted ink onto paper to produce a series of abstract patterns, could he have known that nearly 100 years later, the Rorschach test would be a household name? Although the use of the Rorschach to diagnose mental illness is mostly a thing of the past, research on the test continues. Show More Summary

Human Gene Editing

The recent rapid development of CRISPR technology, which has made gene editing fast, affordable, and accurate, has rekindled the ethical debate about human gene editing. Last week a special panel put together by the National Academy of Sciences gave a “yellow light” to human germline gene editing – saying that such editing might be ethical […]

The Fantasy of Connecting Two Spinal Cords

A peculiar new paper proposes the idea of "connecting two spinal cords as a way of sharing information between two brains". The author is Portuguese psychiatrist Amílcar Silva-dos-Santos and the paper appears in Frontiers in Psychology. Frontiers are a publisher with a troubled history of publishing dubious science. Show More Summary

The Science of Smoking Bans

In a recent article for Slate, Jacob Grier argues that the science used to justify widespread bans on smoking in public places was flawed. Recent more robust research has show little to no health benefit from such laws, he argues. While he has a point regarding the arc of scientific evidence, I think he is […]

More Anti-Vaccine Nonsense from Trump and Kennedy

We have an anti-vaccine president. One of my concerns about Trump the candidate was that one of his most consistent positions over the years was blaming vaccines for the alleged autism epidemic (there isn’t one, by the way). Once elected it did not take long for this to manifest as a policy priority. In January […]

Science – We Have a Reproducibility Problem

John Ioannidis has published an interesting commentary in JAMA about the current reproducibility crisis in basic and clinical scientific research. Ioannidis has built his career on examining the medical literature for overall patterns of quality. He is perhaps most famous for his study showing why most published research findings are wrong. The goal here is […]

Authorship Means Responsibility

Last week Retraction Watch covered a case of a psychology paper that was retracted after it emerged that the graduate student who collected the data had faked the results. Here's the retraction notice: The retraction follows an investigation by the University of Alabama’s Office for Research Compliance. Show More Summary

Immigration and Crime

Does legal or illegal immigration increase crime? That is an empirical question that should be answerable through rigorous research. Whatever the answer, it should inform our policy priorities and decisions. At the very least, if we are going to have a national conversation about immigration, the established facts should serve as common ground. When you […]

Heartland on Global Warming – Case Study in Propaganda

H. Sterling Burnett, writing for the Heartland Institute blog, wrote a revealing post titled: Energy Restrictions, Not Climate Change, Put Civilizations at Risk. In my opinion it is a classic example of misleading propaganda, worthy of deconstruction as a case study. What Is Propaganda? I always endeavor to be as clear, thorough, and fair in […]

The Super Bowl and Hindsight Bias

Full disclosure – I have been a Patriots fan since in the 1980s. I suffered through a couple long decades of rooting for a mediocre team, including the worst (at the time) Super Bowl defeat at the hands of the Bears. Then along came Belichick and Brady, and it has been a wild ride as […]

New GM Wheat Trials Set

Right now there are no genetically modified (GM) cultivars of wheat that are approved and on the market, so essentially there is no GM wheat. Wheat is an important staple crop responsible for about 21% of total calories consumed by humans in the world. Improving net yields of wheat could therefore have important impacts on […]

It's Okay That You Don't Like Mornings--Your Memory Probably Doesn't Either

How sleep, circadian rhythms and chronotype affect your ability to remember -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Why Are We Conscious?

In Daniel Dennett’s latest book,From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, Dennett explores a number of issues surrounding consciousness. I have not yet completed the book and so may come back to it again, but wanted to discuss one topic that Dennett covers – why are we conscious in the first place? […]

Neuroeconomics – Capitalisation on Consumer Control?

In an attempt to explain the internal processes governing the occurrences in the economic world, neuroeconomics is an emerging interdisciplinary field attempting to merge psychology and economic theory. Simply put, the biological basis...Show More Summary

Science Has A Plagiarism Problem

Retraction Watch reports on three scientific papers (1,2,3) that have been retracted or deleted after I reported that they were plagiarized. Neuroskeptic became suspicious about the three unrelated papers – about food chemistry, heart disease, and the immune system and cancer – after scanning them with plagiarism software. Show More Summary

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