Jun 01 2010

Topic Suggestions

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Post and discuss your suggestions for new topics here.


845 responses so far

845 Responses to “Topic Suggestions”

  1. Steven Novellaon 13 Aug 2008 at 11:40 am

    Posted by bob_plotkin


    I checked your archives and did not see anything that you may have done on acupuncture. I did some research myself and found conflicting studies on the efficacy of acupuncture. I am a little torn on this because while I personally can not understand how your “life force” can be disrupted by a tiny needle, I recently spent some time with people who I would not usually expect to place any credence in such a procedure but had experience and thoughts on the procedure which have given me pause.

    One person having had bad back pain for years and after trying a myriad of medical procedures said that after treatment by acupuncture she was much better. She has a science background and is not an alternative medicine person – in fact, she is helping her very sick mother working closely with many doctors seeking the best traditional medical treatments.

    The second person had a comment which I found very intriguing. This is a MIT PhD in physics with a long career in science – and also not a CAM person by any means. When I said that I could not understand what the underlying science is of acupuncture, he responded that while that may be true, I should not rule out thousands of years of trial and error. I am forced to see the logic in this statement – and not finding any definitive materials on the subject thought it may be something you could comment on.

    Of course, if I missed a blog, please point me to it!

    Thanks again -

    Bob (yes, Lisa’s husband – your cousin…)

  2. Steven Novellaon 13 Aug 2008 at 11:50 am


    Here are my previous entries on acupuncture:


    I also mention it frequently in other entries, but the ones above are specifically on acupuncture (14 directly addresses your question)

    Regarding your two points:

    - Anecdotal evidence is never compelling or definitive. You can find similar stories to support any treatment, no matter how far-fetched or even disproven. Only controlled studies can settle the question. You seem to be grossly underestimating the degree to which memory of personal experience can deceiving or just quirky.

    - Thousands of years of trial and error is the argument from antiquity. (I deal with that here: http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=15)

    For three thousand years the humoral theory of illness flourished in the West. Thousands of years of anecdotal trial and error were 100% wrong. Chi and acupuncture were cultural embedded ideas, perpetuated through belief, confirmation bias, subjective validation, and cultural inertia. They were not systematically tested.

    Once scientific methods were used to systematically test ideas – multitudes of ideas that had previously survived for thousands of years fell one-by-one.

    Finally, by coincidence, I was just asked to submit an article on reasons I do not think acupuncture works. Look for this in the near future.

  3. Fifion 13 Aug 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Um, because I’m lazy and I’d like someone else to compile all the information, I’d love to see a series that looked at the biological and neurobiological aspects of various “mystical” experiences in a systematic way. But perhaps you’ve done this and I should just check the archives :-)

  4. mindmeon 13 Aug 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Can you do something on placenta injections? A female friend in Korea ran out of her doctor’s office after he offered to inject her with Japanese placenta, claiming it would pretty much cure anything. Google shows others have quacky ideas. And just recently some a list hollywood star claimed placenta makes good fertilizer:


  5. kvsherryon 13 Aug 2008 at 2:41 pm

    I would like to know your opinion, both as a doctor and as someone who can deconstruct an argument, about the expanding roles of and reliance on Nurse Practitioners in todays healthcare. I know that there is much debate from both the ANA and various physicians groups about whether or not the public should be treated by NPs. The most recent article against was written by a DO and can be found at the following link:


    Thank you

  6. SatansParakeeton 14 Aug 2008 at 11:04 am

    I find it a little difficult to separate the fact from the fiction regarding medical marijuana (MM). The MM movement still seems to me to mostly be about providing a legal back door to allow people to get high, but I know there have been a fair amount of studies on using marijuana to treat pain and nausea. The MM movement tends to go a little far and suggest that marijuana can cure everything. Which studies have shown real benefits from MM and have they been repeated often enough to make them fairly convincing?

  7. martinvon 16 Aug 2008 at 7:57 am

    Dear Steven,
    it would be most interesting to read your analysis of Jill Bolte Taylor’s reflection of her stroke she has been widely expressing in media and in her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. TED has her talk, which is the most e-mailed and much discussed of all TED talks.

    Her experience has been an inspiration to many people, but some say that despite of her scientific background she has taken a leap of faith into New Age mysticism.

    Best wishes from Estonia!

  8. ordinarygirlon 20 Aug 2008 at 10:12 am

    My dad was recently diagnosed with Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks. He’s been referred to a university hospital in North Carolina for treatment. My mom is a kind of freaked out about the whole thing and has been doing a lot of research on the internet. She explained the surgery he might go through to me, but wasn’t really sure about what type of treatment he would have.

    Are you familiar with the treatment? My dad hasn’t had sinus surgery in the past, but he has had multiple strokes and did have heart bypass surgery several years ago which left him in a coma for several months during recovery, possibly resulting in additional strokes. The site of leakage is his nose and he’s apparently been having leakage for several years, although he didn’t know it was spinal fluid until about a month ago. I know the primary concern is bacterial infection, but I don’t know if there are any other risks or concerns due to his past medical history.

    I’m confident that he’ll receive good treatment and I accept that there are risks to any type of treatment. I’m hoping to learn more to help put my mom at ease. My parents have a hard time accepting science and are suspicious of doctors, especially after my dad’s previous surgery.


  9. superdaveon 20 Aug 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I think a great topic for either the blog or podcast would be the recent announcement by columbia neuroscientists in which motoneurons were produced from stem cells that were derived from reprogrammed stem cells.

  10. Deemeron 28 Aug 2008 at 5:46 am

    I’m surprised that there hasn’t yet been any comment around the news (at least as reported in Europe) about the JAMA study reporting heavy metal content in Ayurvedic “medicines”.


    Can the increased diagnoses of autism be linked to an increased consumption of woo?

  11. anandamideon 29 Aug 2008 at 11:16 am

    I´ve just left a comment on ´The Color Test´, in which I mentioned NLP. I don´t know if you know a lot about the subject, but if you do it could be an interesting topic for a post; NLP (´Neuro-Linguistic Programming´) hangs on to scientific-sounding and neuroscientific terms to give an air of credibility, promises much and can be found in various forms in both personal-empowerment literature and management seminars. The Skeptics Dictionary has a good introduction to it, and even if you don´t decide to write a post on it I´m sure you´ll find the subject interesting, as a neurologist and skeptic.

    I´d also like to secind Fifi´s suggestion re: mystic experiences, mainly as I´ve had a number of very powerful ones!

    Many thanks for a fine blog.

  12. Fifion 29 Aug 2008 at 12:17 pm

    And I’ll second anandamide’s suggestion of NLP as a subject (and check out the Skeptic’s Dictionary in the meantime).

  13. daedalus2uon 29 Aug 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Regarding mystical experiences, it is likely that some of them are mediated though the effects of NO as a neurotransmitter. Those NO effects occur at NO levels in the range of a few nM/L, (on the order of 30 parts per trillion).

    Some of the physiological states associated with mystical experiences include acute fever, hypoxia, other near death experiences, following orgasm, childbirth, and meditation. Some of these are associated with high NO levels, but that association is not well understood.

    I suspect that the experience of something “mystical” is to provide a rationalization for transformative changes to ways of thinking. The physiological extreme state results in a reprogramming of neural physiology that is discontinuous with neural physiology prior to experiencing the physiologically extreme state.

    I suspect that the most extreme “mystical” states will occur due to high NO following extremely low NO. I see that in terms of functional connectivity (mediated largely through NO as in the fMRI BOLD measurements). Low NO causes a relative disconnection of the long range functional connectivity, in effect “re-booting” the long range functional connectivity scheme the brain is using. High NO then restores that long range connectivity, in effect restoring the integrated functioning of multiple brain regions “in sync”, but with a somewhat different connectivity.

    I think this is what happens during things like Stockholm syndrome. The extreme stress of abuse causes low NO which fragments the “mind” and allows for independent activity of different brain regions to allow for better “multi-tasking” to survive the extreme stress. (I see multiple personality disorder as a manifestation of this) When the stress is reduced, the reformation of the long range connections can lead to people attaching to those who caused the stress via abuse in the first place. A useful survival feature in “the wild” where abuse of females by alpha males is not uncommon.

  14. zntneoon 02 Sep 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Hey Steve could you maybe go over your process of determining what the scientific consensus is on different issues?

  15. lladnarcon 18 Sep 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Steve,

    My wife recently gave birth to our second daughter at the beginning of June. She’s had a series of issues that are as yet un-specifically defined but are currently being termed neurological in nature.

    Specifically she has an uncoordinated swallow that leaves some liquid going up rather than down and she doesn’t seem to trakc and focus as well as her peers.

    Anyway, we’ve had an ultrasound (nothing found) and have an MRI, as well appointments with a neuro-opthamologist and geneticist in the coming weeks (All at Mass general Hospital in Boston).

    So, our daughter general practitioner has us reading up about everything from Cerebral Palsy to mitochondrial diseases but is also cautioning that she may just be “a little behind in the curve”.

    All that to get to this: She recently asked us to consider the Rotavirus vaccine but didn’t provide a lot of information about it. Instead saying we should research it on the web and let her know if we wanted to do it. She mentioned if our daughter had a mitochondrial issue that it would be important for to have had the vaccine.

    So, the only things I could find about it are that it is relatively new (only 70k children have had the new vaccine) and that there is a specific time-line for when you need to take the doses. if I recall correctly the first dose was noted for 8 weeks but our daughter is currently 14 weeks old.

    So, I’m not afraid of vaccines and autism and all that silly stuff, I’m just concerned that only a small amount of children have had the new vaccine and from what i read online the prior version was proven to have some issues and was removed from the market.

    Do you have any thoughts/data you could share on this vaccine? And perhaps any thoughts in general on how a parent should decide when to accept a new vaccine or treatment that is on t he market? We all know that some products come to market and are later proven to cause more harm than good, even if they have been through clinical trials, but I’m guessing that is more the exception than the rule.

    Thanks for your thoughts and keep up the good work!

  16. echovaldon 28 Sep 2008 at 9:56 am

    Regarding the topic of binaural and structural integrity of brain training. There is a company known as “Volition Thought House. inc”, this company claims to have incorporated a technology known as imagince, which incorporate a series of beats that are hidden within music (giving the music slightly choppy quality) which travel through your ears and towards your brain, where it induces certain brainwaves, such as Alpha, Beta, Delta and so on. As a result, listening to their commercial products provides ‘beneficial’ results, such as increased mental capacity and speed processing, as well as a greater feel for comprehension in terms of understanding topics. These beats apparently stimulate specific brainwaves and brain activity, once again their scientific basis and justification lies in the studies shown by the EEG studies, and a series of controlled experiments conducted involving small numbers of people. Not only do they have commercial products for brain training, with the fabricated promises of increased IQ, but they have other inducing soundtracks which can either evoke an array of frequencies, such as aiding with sleep. “iMusic”, is the term used for this specific product, although there is many reviews, I believe that most of this has been fabricated to an extent. I’ve also checked some of the acclaims, and some apparent, iconic figures are seemingly non-existent.

    Imagince & iMusic overview:


    There are also a variety of articles.
    What I would like to know if is their claims of increasing IQ and cognitive function simply by listening to their music true?
    I’ve already read from your previous archives, about a similar incident regarding, “Neuro Programmer 2″, but I feel this is quite different, for one, this is an entirely different company, with different principals and so called technologies for enhancing cognitive function.
    There are also so many reviews, which help reinforce and justify the belief that “iMusic”, works, is this true? Or is it merely a product of the placebo effect or the expectancy effect?

  17. Saorsaon 07 Oct 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Dr. Novella,

    Are you familiar with the claims of Suzette Foster? (http://www.suzettefoster.com/) She claims to have suffered a spinal-cord injury (she provides an MRI image as evidence) and states that she recovered through the magic of energy healing. Now, she is using her experience to recruit people suffering with SCI into “healing circles” with the promise of curing them. All for a fee, of course.

    Worse, yet, she is reportedly going to receive national attention on Oprah’s radio show.

    I’ve been a tetraplegic for over 14 years and have heard similar claims a thousand times before, but never suspected they might receive media attention that could provide them a modicum of legitimacy. Her claims not only dupe desperate people of their money, but also of their hope, while undermining an already ignorant public’s understanding of SCI. If she and most TV movies are to be believed, every person in a wheelchair is just too lazy, or too faithless, to cure themselves. These memes infect public perception and conceal the reality that spinal-cord injuries are devastating and, given time, fatal, because of the many respiratory, renal, and ulcer issues that occur as a result of SCI.

    Could you comment on her claims, SCI, and perhaps the state of current SCI research? Thank you.


  18. llysenwion 10 Oct 2008 at 1:40 pm

    What is the responsibility of competent scientists to conduct well-designed studies on CAM? Given that money is going to be given to NCCAM and that there is loads of private funding for this research, do competent scientists have an obligation to compete for that money to do quality research on CAM, instead of letting the funds go to badly designed studies that will simply propagate misinformation? Probably best to ignore the fact that I have no idea how to ethically design an IRB protocol or informed consent for something like a homeopathy clinical trial.

  19. Monicaon 12 Oct 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Dr. Novella and anyone else with Stroop information,

    I am an honor student in the 7th grade. Last year I did a science fair project on how age affects results in the Stroop color test. I won first place in my category and was lucky enough to be selected to go to the regional science fair with my project.

    This year I am working on a continuation project. I am working to find out how the test was or still is used in spy work. Unfortunately, I am having trouble finding information on this subject for my research paper. Since you mention this in your posting of August 28, I am hoping that you can help me.

    If you or anyone else has any information on how the Stroop test was used to detect foreign spies, or if you are familiar with resources that I can look at please post it to this site. I hope to win my school fair again this year and participate in this year’s ISEF regional science fair.

    Thank you so much!!

  20. superdaveon 14 Oct 2008 at 9:54 pm

    could you comment on this NYTimes article, it seems to be a rebuttal of sorts of the claim that preventative medicine does not decrease the overall costs of the healthcare system.


  21. ADR150on 20 Oct 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Dr Novella

    I was wondering if you had any insight to the benefits of Clean Coal technology. Does this significantly increase efficiency and/or reduce carbon emissions?



  22. bobfobbiton 22 Oct 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I didn’t see anything on the blog about nootropics. All the literature on them is pretty much couched in scientific terms, so I can’t really make an informed decision. Any help?

    Piracetam is the specific drug that seems to be pushed pretty strongly.

  23. Claireon 24 Oct 2008 at 6:47 am

    Dear Dr Novella,

    I know you have posted before on NLP in the context of mental health and counselling but I would be interested in your views on its application on other health areas, such as allergy, where NLP practioners make what seem to me to be poorly evidenced claims. See e.g. this blog post and comments:


    The NLP practitioner in question has been brave enough to show up in the comments and talks quite a bit about psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which he says is a field of medical immunology. I don’t know what the standing of PNI is in medicine but it does appear popular within NLP.

    thanks and best wishes,


  24. ADR150on 24 Oct 2008 at 11:10 am

    “Doctors Often Prescribe Placebo Treatments”


    I know you’ve talked about this a little on the podcast, but I’d be interested to hear your take on this report.


  25. MBoazon 04 Nov 2008 at 2:14 am

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on osteopathy. Is there any real distinction between the D.O. and the M.D. aside from training in OMT? Isn’t “osteopathic medicine” a philosophy-based medicine? I hear that osteopaths emphasize preventive medicine, and treat “the whole person.” Isn’t such rhetoric misleading? Why does osteopathy exist as a unique discipline?

    I hope you or one of your colleagues at SBM can address this topic.

    Best regards,


  26. CrookedTimberon 11 Nov 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Dr N
    The History channel ran a program about the brain last night (November 10, 2008). In typical History channel fashion they provided some very good information and then proceeded to undermine the credibility of the entire program by including some shameless pseudoscience. They actually spent time speaking with a researcher who is convinced John Edwards is a “real medium”.
    This made me wonder if there were other aspects of the program that were fallacious, but not as obvious to a non professional. I would love to hear your views if you happened to see the show.
    I greatly enjoy your many blogs (where do you find the time) and podcast, keep up the good work!

  27. Dread Polackon 14 Nov 2008 at 4:50 pm


    I would like to hear you discuss the current state of understanding of Narcolepsy and “Idiopathic Hypersomnia”. I was diagnosed with the latter a couple years ago, and discontinued treatment recently due to a lack of progress. I spend some time on Narcolepsy message boards and hear a lot of rumors, speculation, and quotes from obscure studies. I’m very skeptical of what is true or not regarding these conditions. Thank you.

  28. jwmiller64on 17 Nov 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Dr Novella,

    Take a look at the wealth of information on this site for speech apraxia.

    excerpt… from mailing list for apraxia…


    My mission as a researcher, an activist and mother of 2 vaccine-injured boys is to keep you informed and that is with articles and documents that will help you see outside the box!!!

    It has been proved by many scientists, and doctors that vaccines cause brain inflammation, and micro-vascular strokes… That is where you can compare our children with people who have suffered strokes and have the same language problems… Our children’s problems are originated in the brain, Motor planning, and liver: muscle tone (mitochondrial issues)… That being said each child is different and some are affected more than others… if your child only has language delay, than you are a few of the lucky ones, some are autistic, epileptic and CP… some have a combination of this and have far more difficult road ahead… but, they can all recover, as long as we can determine the cause or origin, to work in pro of building their brains and other affected organs…

    By the way, not so long ago two Mexican scientists found a possible relation between the virus that causes chickenpox, chickenpox-zó ster, and cases of multiple sclerosis in active stage.
    The investigation was developed by Adolfo Martinez and Julio Sotelo, who identified the presence of the virus just chickenpox-zó ster in a group of 62 patients with multiple sclerosis when it was in active stage.

    The virus of chickenpox would cause in the brain a scar that would prevent the myelin production, a protein that surrounds nervous fibers and facilitates the transmission of the nervous impulses.
    The investigation was published in the Annals magazine of Neurology.
    “In resistance, were not viral particles in samples of patients with multiple sclerosis in phase of remission or subjects to neurological control”, indicate the conclusions of the scientists.. .
    “We considered that this is the cause. Or he will see himself if it is cause or one of the causes”, indicated Julio Sotelo. “In these initial findings he can be one neither forceful nor dogmatic one”, said the scientist.
    The multiple sclerosis affects the spinal marrow and the brain, causing damages in the coordination, the balance and the memory; in addition, it hits the muscular development and the visual capacity.

    Now correct me if I am wrong… but MS cases are also on the rise along with Alzheimer’s and ASD, Remember that MS and ASD share same mitochondrial issues… And the most common exposure to chickenpox this days is childhood VACCINES!!! What do you think?!!!

    Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth:
    The following document is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lists the inactive ingredients in vaccines along with the materials that are used to culture or grow mass quantities of vaccines.

    Vaccine Excipient and Media Summary:

    Were you aware that vaccines have all this ingredients?!!! Do you know what all this ingredients can cause?!!!

    Love, Gabby. :0)

  29. bob_plotkinon 17 Nov 2008 at 2:56 pm


    Thanks for the original and follow-up info on Acupuncture.

    How about “cold laser” therapy? I just found out that it is being used in rehabilitation of someone I know and find the plausibility that low-level light therapy has any beneficial effects to be negligible at best. (I will ignore the fact that the practitioner told the patient that they could do the procedure through clothes – seems to violate some basic principles of light!?)

    Given that from my basic research, cold lasers are also being used as an alternative to needles for acupuncture, I would be curious to get your take on this device and its applicability to medicine.

    Thanks -


  30. daedalus2uon 18 Nov 2008 at 2:18 pm

    How about a blog on Alzheimer’s and the amyloid hypothesis?


    A number of recent results have seemingly shown clearance of amyloid with seemingly no resolution of dementia.

    My own feeling is that the accumulation of amyloid and tau is a side-show, the real causal factors relate to ATP status and blood flow (as controlled by NO).

  31. Radoslav Harmanon 20 Nov 2008 at 3:17 am

    Dear Dr. Novella. I would like to know your opinion on the following topic:

  32. The skepTickon 21 Nov 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Dr. N,

    Roy Asim has “finally” published his controversial theory on the brain. According to him, different parts of the brain are controlled by a master controller. I gather he repudiates the power of self-organization that we see so often in nature. It sounds like this might be right up your alley so I thought you might want to make a few comments about it.

    The layman’s link is here: http://www.physorg.com/news146319784.html

    Best Regards,
    The skepTick

  33. eatbolton 22 Nov 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Dr. Novella,
    Have you looked into the film, “The Beautiful Truth?” It appears to be a propaganda film extolling the virtues of how an organic food based diet will cure cancer. It’s getting a fare amount of press about how it “takes on the medical industrial complex.” Here’s a link to the film’s trailer and a misguided review of the film. Please shed some light on this dark, dark territory.

    Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/thebeautifultruth/

    Review: http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/reviews/specialty-releases/e3i2dd2f2ead332946a80eca22aad7adc37?imw=Y


  34. HCNon 22 Nov 2008 at 8:03 pm

    eatbolt aka Matt have you seen this takedown of that movie by a cancer researcher?…

  35. eatbolton 24 Nov 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks for the link. Just what I was looking for.

  36. HCNon 25 Nov 2008 at 12:31 am

    Glad to be of help… there is more of the same here:

  37. Amorphous Intelligenceon 27 Nov 2008 at 6:20 am

    Dr. Novella:
    I have heard you say a number of times on your podcast that—as best as memory serves—“correlation is not causation.” It is a phrase which has made sense to me per your usages and I recently wanted to invoke it myself for my new blog at http://www.amorphousintelligence.wordpress.com. But I also wanted to provide a link that gave a rational justification for it. I was hoping you had written about it; alas, I was unable to find it if you had. So I checked many other science-based and skeptical blogs as well as doing a broad Google search. The closest thing I could find that was accessible to the lay reader was a Wikipedia article titled “Correlation does not imply causation,” which I at first thought was close enough. (In fact, if one types “correlation is not causation” in the search box one is directed to “Correlation does not imply causation.”) But then I heard your most recent SGU 5X5 podcast (#46 “Skepticism 101-Confusing Correlation With Causation”) in which you point out that correlation can, in fact, imply causation, so a more accurate phrasing would be “correlation is not necessarily causation.” Upon further reflection this now makes even more sense than the aforementioned phrase (which makes me wonder if all this time you had been saying “necessarily” and I just hadn’t clued in to it). Which now leads to the two points of my writing you: First, given the apparent inaccuracy of the Wikipedia article, I recommend that you try to fix that article or write a wholly different one altogether. (I would gladly do it myself but it seems you are far more qualified than I.) And second—especially if revising/rewriting the Wikipedia article is too much effort—might I recommend that you blog about this phrase? It strikes me as a highly useful phrase that the average person can find an application for its usage on a near daily basis which, in fact, I do use on a near daily basis. For us lay skeptics it would be nice to have an authoritative, easily readable article to point others to, though. (And yes, I understand authority is not science, but it does persuade.) It would be especially helpful to say something like: “What? Don’t believe me? Check it out on Wikipedia.” After all, if Wikipedia says it, it must be true.
    Thank you,
    Amorphous Intelligence

  38. taustinon 29 Nov 2008 at 4:24 pm

    This is an old screed, but I don’t find anything about Ritalin with a search:


    Has all the earmarks of of quackery based in ignorance (and sounds remarkably like the anti-vaccine screeds), how ADHD doesn’t exist, it’s all a massive criminal conspiracy between “big pharma” and the government, and it can all be cured with a diet change and it’s all the fault of boring schools anyway.

    And the very specific claim that Ritalin causes stunted growth in children.

  39. ADR150on 02 Dec 2008 at 1:07 pm

    You probably already have a post ready to go up on this , but apparently researchers at Duke have found that “Acupuncture beats aspirin for chronic headache”!!!

    The results? – “53 percent of patients given true acupuncture were helped, compared to 45 percent receiving sham therapy”

    Doctor, what say you to that!?!

  40. ADR150on 02 Dec 2008 at 1:07 pm

    oops – link:


  41. Paradymon 05 Dec 2008 at 10:32 am

    Dear Steve,

    As you may or may not know, David Kirby has been posting to Huffington Post almost weekly regarding the vaccine/autism connection fallacy. I know you’ve addressed this topic many times before, and I have been attempting to be a counter, however small, to all the misinformed posters lauding Mr. Kirby’s assertions. As expected, most of those supporting him are the same dozen or so, but there is an alarmingly growing number of people claiming that because of theses articles they are now concerned about vaccinating their children. I know all that can be a ruse to feign larger support, but it still concerns me that Mr. Kirby isn’t being refuted by a knowledgeable source.

    With respect, I am imploring you to please attempt a rebuttal, or at least try to get an authority in this specific field to write an article that calls out the fallacies in the anti-vaccination argument. I am troubled by Huffington Post’s continually giving Mr. Kirby an opportunity to feed this conspiracy (and his book sales). I think it could be argued as irresponsible, if not dangerous, as the ramifications are huge to the public health.

    Thank you, as well as all the Skeptical Rogues, for all that you do, and as a big fan I hope to meet you all soon someday!

    Chicago, IL

  42. PaulGon 08 Dec 2008 at 7:09 am

    How about drug-related internet hoaxes?

    I received a recent one from my sister, detailing the threat of receiving a business card from a stranger, that may be dosed with Burundanga (aka: Scopolamine/Datura) and will render the subject almost instantly intoxicated.

    What alarms me about this sort of thing, is that there is usually a grain of truth somewhere. Yes, scopolamine can be used as a “date rape drug”, but ten minutes on the internet will reveal that it can’t be absorbed in transdermal fashion in sufficient quantities to cause intoxication and that the e-mail is an established hoax.

    Looking at the e-mail itself, my sister appears to have received her copy of the message from a serving police officer (a detective no less). You really would expect the police to be a bit more critical in their thinking before sending out this sort of thing.

  43. Spenceron 09 Dec 2008 at 8:43 am

    Could you please do an article on the contribution Henry Gustav Molaison (HM) has made to neuroscience due to his profound amnesia.

    I have read the NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/us/05hm.html?_r=1) and was somewhat touched by the sad story of his life.

  44. Boreason 11 Dec 2008 at 7:19 am

    I’d like to suggest an article (or Podcast segment) on the recent Nature paper suggesting that use of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall by people wishing to improve cognative ability should be legalised.

    You can find more at -




  45. Bunnyon 17 Dec 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Jenny McCarthy has been sharing her medical expertise via the Oprah show, Larry King, etc., and now her boyfriend, Jim Carrey, is getting in on the act. Here’s some fascinating medical advice from Jim Carry in the current issue of Us Magazine:

    “At the risk of like opening up the whole Tom Cruise Prozac argument, you know, I don’t disagree in many ways,” Jim Carrey said. “I think Prozac and things like that are very valuable to people for short periods of time. But I believe if you’re on them for an extended period of time, you never get to the problem.

    “You never get to see what the problem is, because everything is just kind of OK,” he said. “And so, you don’t deal. And people deal when they get desperate.”

    Carrey’s solution: “Supplements,” he said.

    “It is vitamins. But it’s also certain elements of the brain like Tyrosine and hydroxytryptophan that they’re treating depression with now,” he said. “It is a natural substance that’s in your brain. Instead of being a Serotonin inhibitor, which just uses the serotonin you have and Prozac and things like that — it just uses the Serotonin you have and it doesn’t allow it go back into the receptor.

    “It metabolizes your serotonin after a while and you have to keep taking more and more to feel good.

    “This actually creates dopamine and creates serotonin,” Carrey continued. “It’s a wonderful thing. It’s amazing. I’m going to talk a lot about it in the near future.”

  46. Bunnyon 19 Dec 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Oh, and I would like to second the suggestion from SatansParkakeet on 8-14-08. When my mother was dying of cancer in the 1990s, she had a prescription for Marinol, which I understood to be “medical marijuana” in pill form. If this is already available legally, why are people still fighting to make marijuana legal for medical purposes? Why do they insist on the smokeable kind?

  47. DevilsAdvocateon 23 Dec 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Topic Suggestion:

    University of Tilburg (Netherlands) study of a man blinded by multiple strokes who nonetheless navigated an obstacle course without aids such a cane nor by touching and feeling his way through.

    Suggests visually obtained data may be processed in another part of brain than usual, and that it can occur without the person realizing it (?).

    No *apparent* outward woo or pseudoscience… but, if true, considerable implications for neuroscience and other disciplines.




  48. Gary Goldwateron 26 Dec 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I’d like to have a reading list for people with a scientific interest but who are not trained scientists. For example, I’m a special education teacher. I have not trained in the hard sciences nor did I take anything but 100-200 level science classes when I was in college.

    If you had a list of 12 books, we could read one each month. At the end of that month, you could write a blog using the knowledge base gained from that book. Of course, I’m thinking like an old-timer. You could just as well have links listed that need to be digested before reading the target blog.

    If you posted the book 6 weeks in advance, for example, we could get the book from Amazon and read it by the time the target blog comes out.

    Gary Goldwater

  49. daedalus2uon 05 Jan 2009 at 10:42 pm

    There is a recent death in the news, John Travolta’s son, reportedly due to a seizure secondary to Kawasaki Syndrome. It is an interesting case because the Kawasaki Syndrome was reportedly improved by a detox system based on Scientology.


    Tragically it was not improved enough.

  50. battlestarleton 06 Jan 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I am an esthetician (facialist) and am constantly confronted with pseudoscience in the spa industry. I would love to hear your thoughts on:

    - antioxidants
    - salicylic acid versus willow bark extract (it’s my understanding that salicylic acid is derived from willow bark and that both are anti-inflammatories related to aspirin, but the true-believers say that willow bark is gentler, healthier, and just as effective because it is more.. ahem.. natural)
    - lymphatic massage for normal, healthy individuals
    - high frequency therapy done to eliminate acne
    - colloidal silver used topically (not internally)

    I also consider myself a feminist and it saddens me that the beauty industry does such a good job of convincing women (who, as a whole, are already behind their male counterparts in savings and investings) to turn over their hard-earned cash for questionable treatments. I try to do my best to bring reason to my industry, but it is a constant battle.

  51. son 06 Jan 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Aspirin is the brand name of a very well known salicylate-containing tablet ;-) introduced in 1899.

    Aspirin is named so after Spirea ulmaria (meadowseet, today Filipendula ulmaria) that is another salicinproducing plant.

    The active compound in these plants, among which the willow is probably most know, is salicin that will be metabolized to salicylic acid in the body.

    Yes the extract should be milder. According to Akao et al “[salicylic acid] appeared slowly in the plasma and levels increased gradually, in contrast to the rapid appearance observed after oral administration of sodium salicylate… [salicin] did not induce gastric lesions even at a dose of 5 mmol/kg; conversely, ["aspirin/salicylic acid"] induced severe gastric lesions in a dose-dependent manner at 1, 2.5 and 5 mmol/kg. …These results indicate that [salicin] is a prodrug which is gradually transported to the lower part of the intestine, hydrolyzed to [saligenin] by intestinal bacteria, and converted to [salicicylic acid] after absorption. It thus produces an antipyretic action without causing gastric injury.”

    In sum taking salicin is “milder” as it does not get metabolized into salicylic acid until in the bloodstream, while aspirin means salicylic acid is directly ingested into the stomach and can cause upset. This probably also means that salicylate poisoning is less likely as concentrations are lower.


    Planta Med. 2002 Aug;68(8):714-8. Evaluation of salicin as an antipyretic prodrug that does not cause gastric injury. Akao T, Yoshino T, Kobashi K, Hattori M.


  52. AutismNewsBeaton 14 Jan 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Write about the New York Time’ latest op-ed contributor, Bono. It doesn’t have to be off topic.

    Bono is a terrific lyricist, as evidenced by the millions of CDs and albums he’s sold. So why was his first op-ed a muddled, incoherent, unreadable mess? Could it be that the skills we possess in one area do not necessarily translate into another, seemingly related area?

    Thus we have competent chemistry department chairs pumping out muddled, incoherent papers on autism. And chiropractors sharing worthless advice on nutrition and toxicology with parents of autistic children.

    The NY Times will soon enough realize its mistake, and replace Bono with an bona fide essayist. Anti-vaxers will take longer.

  53. FLICMOon 21 Jan 2009 at 3:51 am

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on the increased use of non-invasive diagnostic medical imaging use and the movement of imaging studies out of the radiology reading room and into the practicing physician’s office.

    We (FiatLux Imagine ) have used computer gaming technology, in the form of Direct X, to harness the inate capability of everyday computers to provide 2D and 3D rendering capabilities to view these medical images in any location, independent of costly specialized servers. By doing this at an affordable price, we see an ability to provide medical images anywhere, anytime, to any practicioner.

    With the ever increasing ability to diagnostically peer inside the body, and with the increasing technical ability to render those images into physiologic appearing 3D volumes,an ever increasing number of specialties are now proficient at doing their own interpretations and moving ahead with treatment regimes and surgical planning.

  54. Dr J In Trainingon 22 Jan 2009 at 2:03 am

    I have done some rudimentary digging and can’t find much in the way of reliable information regarding the “Post-Massage Malaise” that many masseurs warn against. They profess it’s due to released toxins…so a real explanation is certainly lacking. I’d love to read your thoughts on it.

  55. tmac57on 23 Jan 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I was recently struck by the current TV commercial war between Campbell’s Soup and Progresso Soup over inclusion of MSG. Campbell’s Soup trumpets the ‘All Natural- no MSG’ line, and Progresso goes with the ‘more people prefer their taste’ approach.
    What caught my interest was what’s really wrong with MSG anyway? So I did a little research, since I had heard MSG being used as a ‘bad guy’ ingredient for many years, and I found out that, while it has been suspected as a headache and asthma trigger in the past, there doesn’t appear to be any well controlled studies to bear this out.
    Is this a case of anecdotal stories and ‘common knowledge’ maligning a perfectly good flavor additive that adds the UMAMI taste to foods, or is there any really good reason for people to avoid it? FYI, I have no dog in this fight except to know the facts.

  56. mindmeon 30 Jan 2009 at 12:09 pm

    A double blind placebo controlled homeopathy study:


    I noticed the above paper cited by Dana Ullman (who seems to be a big name in homeopathy) on this blog:


    The study is small (about 60 people) but from my unsophisticated reading does match the “double blind placebo controlled” goal post required by at least us lay skeptics.

    What’s deal? Tell it to me straight, doc.

  57. HCNon 30 Jan 2009 at 12:57 pm

    mindme, I do not have time to read the paper, but at a first glance it is on a condition that is not well defined and with subjective data points, as noted here:
    “Tender point count and tender point pain on examination by a medical assessor uninvolved in providing care, self-rating scales on fibromyalgia-related quality of life, pain, mood and global health at baseline and 3 months, were the primary clinical outcome measures for this report.”

    It is the “self-rating” scale that makes it not so good.

    For a better idea read the book “Snake Oil Science” by R Barker Bausell.

  58. Johnshieldon 08 Feb 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Good day, Dr Novella

    I recently stumbled upon this add on a local billboard:


    and I found that I had a few questions like:

    1) if their claims on the effects of homotaurine on brain volume and also the list of Wonders it brought about, was on the level?

    2) CAN this new natural health product who was Scientifically proven, be true?

    3) And finally, is this, as I found out with a little digging, really a re-ashed failed Anti-Alzheimer’s Pill,and if so, is that legal or ethical?

    Thank you for your time!

  59. Vilrandiron 11 Feb 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Dr. Novella,

    In your recent discussion with a Creationist blogger, he avoided actually answering your challenge by dropping some random questions, one of which ran along the lines of “How do you explain the origin of the Universe?”.
    Although it had nothing to do with the subject at hand at that time, it does represent an interesting question.
    I think I remember reading something on this in Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion”, although it might have been another book I was reading at that time. I think I remember that he wrote about a couple of different possible explanations being explored on this, and I remember distinctly that they had to do with the properties of vacuum (symmetry). I’ll do my homework and look for this reference, but I did want to ask you if you have some reading material on this, or can reference me to a good source, and most importantly, blog about it or discuss it in the Skeptics Guide.
    Thank you for your time and the guiding beacon you represent to all of us Skeptics out here.

  60. Anderson 14 Feb 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Good day, Dr. Novella

    Here is a cool article about a new Prosthetic Arm. Remember to watch the video. http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/22730/

  61. TSkidCon 16 Feb 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Steve, have you ever done any research on, or are you aware of any good research on candida and “the candida diet”. A friend of mine went to a alt medicine practitioner who used a vega machine to diagnose her with candida (amongst other thing). I have been trying to find some solid information and research on this condition and the supposed diet-cure but have been unable to find anything worthwhile on the net. Thanks.

  62. TSkidCon 02 Mar 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I have been a vegan for 7 years and a vegetarian for 13 before that. I would be interested in hearing your perspective on the science behind the John McDougall and Dean Ornish diets, as well as the research conducted by Colin T. Campbell (author of The China Study) and Neal Barnard (who is the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). All of these individuals advocate the importance of a vegetarian/vegan diet for optimal health. I have always been impressed at the quality of the scientific/medical research on which they draw. I’d love to hear your take on the science that these individuals use to promote their position.

  63. eddiecurrenton 05 Mar 2009 at 12:45 am

    This post by Alone at Last Psychiatrist tweaked me:

    Now I think his stance here is a little bit too far (Alone, on the whole, seems to indulge in the Galileo Fallacy– “my ideas are unpopular and marginal, and thus must be right”), but it does make me ask:

    How can a layman spot bias in a study? You’ve written a few times (as have others) on how the media spins research, but if I go to the original paper to get past that how do I tell if the writer of that paper isn’t working an agenda beyond testing a hypothesis?

  64. IanJNon 09 Mar 2009 at 11:32 am

    Dr. Novella,

    I have a friend studying Transpersonal Psychology and I was wondering what your thoughts were. While the psychology of spirituality is worthy of study, I can’t tell if TP is credible or credulous.

  65. glensteinon 09 Mar 2009 at 8:58 pm

    There is a recent article in the New Atlantis (link) called “Why Minds Are Not Like Computers”, that I think is problematic. There are bits, such as…

    … arguments for strong AI typically describe the lowest levels of the mind in order to assert its mechanical nature. The rhetoric of mechanism pervades the writing of AI believers, who claim again and again that the brain is a machine. In his 2002 book Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us, roboticist Rodney Brooks declares that “the body, this mass of biomolecules, is a machine that acts according to a set of specifiable rules,” and hence that “we, all of us, overanthropomorphize humans, who are after all mere machines.” The mind, then, must also be a machine, and thus must be describable in computational terms just as the brain supposedly is.

    Both these positions fail to acknowledge that the mind may be simultaneously like and unlike a machine, depending on the level at which it is being described. That is, perhaps it is the case that the highest levels of mentation cannot be described in computational terms, but some lower level can.

    I think there is something slippery going on here- if I understand it correctly, all that we mean when describing “mind as machine”, is that a scientific account of the proccesses in a mind must be mechanistic. The article suggests that at some point, the mind is becomes so complicated that it’s somehow not mechanistic any more.

    This suggestion that the minds processes can be explained without reference to its underlying physical components strikes me as a not very scientific position to take, and similar in spirit to arguments against evolution, that life could be “so complicated” that it’s impossible that natural systems could describe. But it’s also a fairly well written piece, and on my readings the problem is really difficult to unpack, so I thought it might be of interest here.

  66. Kilgore Trouton 10 Mar 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Dr. Novella,
    After watching the video on the prosthetic limb posted by Anders, I was just wondering what this means when it comes to explaining phantom limb pain?

  67. Keldoron 13 Mar 2009 at 5:02 pm

    What do you think of “Calorie Restrictive” diets and the search for and use of Resveratrol in anti-aging? Seems like bunk to me, but there are supposedly compelling studies being done on it at SMU.

  68. Ruthon 17 Mar 2009 at 6:20 am


    I had a relative with a significant alcohol problem and I was shocked at how little connection there seemed to be between the academic research and the firmly held beliefs surrounding treatment.

    In the uk it’s unacceptable for a medical proffessional to push religion, yet the spiritual cure for a frequently sloppily diagnosed ‘disease’ (or even worse ‘spiritual disease’) seems widespread even in the state provision of healthcare. Things are changing but slowly but over the years that have since past I have still never encountered such an odd mix of disease versus behaviour and state funded spiritual cure, often mixed with secular, medical solutions.

    It’s a can of worms to be sure – but for an innate skeptic it seemed a shocking state of affairs in such a widespread and actually well researched issue.

  69. IanJNon 25 Mar 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I’d love to see a post about theory selection and best explanation to the cause. Why, when given the same evidence, is one interpretation preferred over another?

  70. MWSlettenon 26 Mar 2009 at 10:13 am

    This would seem to be right up your alley:



  71. Chicago Skepticon 30 Mar 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Poverty Goes Straight to the Brain

    The preceding article discusses a study that appears show that being raised in poverty can result in lower working memory as an adult due to stress, caused by poverty, on adolescent brains. If true, the findings have many interesting implications.

    I would love to get your take on the article, the underlying study, and the potential implications of the research.

    The study, as given at the end of the article is:

    “Childhood poverty, chronic stress, and adult working memory.” By Gary W. Evans and Michelle A. Schamberg. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106 No. 13, March 30, 2009.

  72. Brownbomber3on 09 Apr 2009 at 11:40 am

    I would love to see a post regarding mitochondrial disease. I had never heard it until it took our daughter’s life. Treatment is vague and a cure seems to be nowhere in site. I have read everything there is to read but I would like to know more about what is up and coming in terms of testing. UMDF has been a great resource but I need more.

    Thank you!

  73. Suzion 10 Apr 2009 at 6:30 pm

    My boyfriend had an interesting discussion regarding his theory that people who truly believe that they can see auras, may be suffering a neurological condition, specifically synesthesia. We both said “I wonder what Steve would say about that?”. Thanks!

  74. kvsherryon 11 Apr 2009 at 12:27 am


    Here in San Diego a man who ran a CAM clinic and sold “drugs” to people in and out of the area is being prosecuted for, amongst other things, practicing without a license. His Name is Kurt Donsbach and he actually ran a clinic in Mexico where Coretta Scott King died from cancer while receiving his “treatments”.

    Included in the comments of the article was the post that I pasted below from John Hammell, the President of the International Advocates for Health Freedom. In it, he mentions some pretty scary ways for CAM proponents to dodge prosecution…

    “Mexican authorities will allow any clinic to remain open if it pays the bribe money unless they’re leaned on by US Authorities to shut a clinic down. Mexico is a totally corrupt country, but then so is the USA. You can’t judge any clinic just because the Mexican government shut it down. There are a lot of very good clinics in Mexico that aren’t operating in the USA due to major corruption in the USA that suppresses alternative treatment modes employing the use of treatments that threaten pharmaceutical profits. These suppressed treatments include bioxidative treatments such as ozone and hydrogen peroxide. Cancer is anaerobic, it can’t live in the presence of oxygen, but no money can be made off these treatments which play hob with Big Pharma’s money game. Don’t kid yourself, the pharmaceutical industry and mainstream medicine are like the mafia. They wield enormous political power, and thats NOT in our best interests. I once worked for Kurt Donsbach at his Hospital in Rosarito Beach. I witnessed the man save a lot of lives. He is not a criminal, the AMA are criminals, mainstream medicine is chock full of criminals who do everything humanly possible to maintain their monopoly at our expense.

    Donsbach should have joined the Nemenhah Band of the Native American Church. He would have come under the protection of a Supreme Court Decision (Gonzalez v O Centro) that extends only to members in good standing in the Native American Church, which anyone can join, regardless of whether or not they have so much as a drop of Native Blood. In Ohio, a woman who was charged recently with “practicing medicine without a license” was apologized to by the Judge when she explained to him that she was under the protection of this Supreme Court Decision and that he had no jurisdiction over her: http://www.nemenhah.org

    Any alternative practitioner reading this should join so as to avoid Donsbach’s fate. What happened to him didn’t have to happen. This Supreme Court decision allows members of the Native American Church to consider any substance to be a sacrament used for healing, including peyote and marijuana, and this extends to all substances sold in health food stores. Supplement manufacturers should join and set up Buyers Clubs that only members in the Nemenhah band could enter. This would remove them from FDA jurisdiction so they could then make medicinal claims on product labels. They would be allowed to do this because they would not have entered into interstate commerce, so FDA would have no jurisdiction. See http://www.nemenhah.org/internal/resources.html

    John Hammell, President
    International Advocates for Health Freedom

  75. JasonEllison 21 Apr 2009 at 9:27 am

    Dr. Novella,

    One of my ‘the truth is out there’ friends sent me a link to a film on youtube about how the universe and intention (mind power) are connected and one can physically influence the other, it’s called The Science of Miracles.

    I have not watched the whole series (there are eight episodes), but in the first episode, the narrator claims one of the studies that supports this theory is a russian study that has been coined the ‘Phantom DNA’ study. The scientist, who ‘published’ the study from what I think is a russian university that specializes in ‘psychic phenomena’, is Pjotr Garjajev.

    This study is being retro-fitted into some old psuedo-scientific favorites and my bologna detector is ringing like crazy.

    Here is some ‘information’ on this study:


    and here is the link to the youtube series ‘Science of Miracles’ with Greg Braden:


    I haven’t been able to find good information on this study or an objective discussion. I thought this would be a good topic for this blog or SGU.

    Love your work – thank you!

  76. fisheon 22 Apr 2009 at 12:41 am


    I’ve been looking into Live blood/cell analysis recently. My first stop was a search of your blog (long time reader, first time poster, that sorta thing) but couldn’t find anything.

    After coming across some investigative sites I found that the wikipedia page seems to sum up the field well with:

    Live blood analysis is an unestablished diagnostic test[1] promoted by some alternative medicine practitioners, who assert that it can diagnose a range of diseases. There is no scientific evidence that live blood analysis can detect any disease state, and it has been described by medical authorities as a fraudulent means of convincing a patient that they are ill and require treatment with dietary supplements.

    There’s also some good info here: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Tests/livecell.html

    Also interesting is that in one case a practitioner was forced to stop performing it by a department of health: http://www.casewatch.org/board/chiro/martin.shtml

    It seems like your kind of topic! And it would also be great to get your personal views/analysis of it.


  77. tmac57on 23 Apr 2009 at 9:25 am

    Just saw a post on Snopes about “an Urgent warning” about the Gardasil vaccine from the Health Sciences Institute : http://www.snopes.com/medical/drugs/gardasil.asp

    Jenny Thompson has posted this video on Youtube :http://hsibaltimore.com/files/2009/04/hsialert.htm

    Implying that the vaccine is responsible for 32 deaths and nearly 12,000 adverse reactions.

    Once again, medical quacks are misusing data to try to frighten the public and promote their own fraudulent agenda.

  78. Annie.Eon 23 Apr 2009 at 10:38 am

    Hello Steven,

    As you follow anti-vaccine rhetoric more than I do, I am curious if you know anything about a particular part of it. Have any anti-vaccination campaigners ever suggested any sort of idea as to how their chosen bug-bear caused autism? As in, which chemicals had what effect on the body, and the way this caused the child to develop the traits specific to the spectrum of autism?

    Or is the claim of correlation usually considered sufficient?

  79. switterson 27 Apr 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Dr Novella

    On the Autism topic,

    I recently came across a book by Robert Mellilo titled ‘Disconnected Kids’.

    in it he claims something called the brain balance program can eliminate something called functional disconnection syndrome.

    I am all of 10 pages in and my skeptic alarm has sounded at least 3 times, particularly when he claims that he has reversed autism in a thousand patients and when he claimed that adhd autism, tourettes and ocd all have the same root cause.

    just wondering if anyone has come across this. from what i gather, without reading too much farther, he is advocating various brain exersices, so i don’t know if there is any harm in it even though he appears to be Jenny McCarthy level crazy.

    again, just wondering if you or anyone else here has come across this guy. ran a few web searches and couldn’t come up with any skeptic viewpoints.

  80. RickKon 05 May 2009 at 11:49 am


    For this blog or SGU, did you see this item about “activating” DNA to resist AIDS?


    I was sent this and haven’t followed up, but I’d be interested in whether this is in any way related to a reported gene or mutation found in some Northern Europeans that provides resistance to AIDS.



  81. garnercxon 09 May 2009 at 1:02 am

    Have a look at this.

    A credulous, intellectually lazy, half page story on page 21 of the biggest selling newspaper in Melbourne Australia today…


    Here is the online version


    Here is what I wrote in the comments…

    “While the self-styled animal communicator from North Bondi can communicate with living animals…”

    I cannot believe I am reading these words? What a credulous, lazy and demonstrably false statement to make! Never in the history of the human species has anyone ever been able to demonstrate, under proper controlled, blinded conditions that there is any reason to believe that the is such a thing as a psychic. In every single case, psychics are either calculated liars using cold reading techniques, or deluded.

    The statement above asks us to accept that this person can ‘read the minds’ of animals, and that the ‘phenomena’ is real. Why havn’t they claimed James Randi’s $1M prize then?

    No wonder the ‘journalist’ makes the statement “…and please be nice”. They know this intellectually lazy, clap-trap is going to get slammed for the waste of time it is. Please don’t make things worse by promoting these deceptive, morally bankrupt frauds.

  82. Dread Polackon 09 May 2009 at 1:49 pm


    I was wondering if you’ve read this, and what your thoughts might be. Also, what experience do you have with Narcolepsy, in general?


  83. Ex-droneon 13 May 2009 at 9:13 pm


    Quirks and Quarks is a science series on CBC radio. It has a good reputation for popularizing credible science, so I was surprised to hear that the title of one of the segments on 2 May was “Fever & Autism” (mp3). I feared that it was going to be about a disease-based claim for the cause for autism. However, it turned out to be an interview with Dr. Dominick Purpura about his hypothesis that, if many autistic children exhibit reduced autistic behaviours when they have fevers, then perhaps autism is caused by a developmental dysregulation related to the locus coeruleus. He admits that he has lots of testing ahead of him to see if there is any merit in his idea. Since the story was about neurology and autism, I thought you might be interested.

  84. mmron 14 May 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I’m curious about veterinary woo– “alternative” medicine for pets. I’ve gotten into some arguments about this, and have referred people to whatstheharm.net though this only has human examples of possible harm from chiropracty, homeopapthy, acupuncture, etc. that is now being applied to pets. I haven’t been able to find studies on this, and any discussion in the media are anecdotes about how it “works.” I know this isn’t your specialty, but do you know of any studies or even real-life examples that I could use in the future? Any strategies for discussing this with folks who argue that as long as you also see a traditional vet, what could go wrong?

    Medical woo is always upsetting, but it really bothers me when its applied to animals (and children) who don’t have a say!

  85. mmron 14 May 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Sorry, I just thought of one little addition that might make the topic I suggested above more interesting to blog about:

    From my scattered reading on the vet woo issue, it seems like vet medicine is often operating in a fairly evidence-poor environment, especially on issues of nutrition and pain management. How should a skeptic go about choosing vet care under these circumstances? One argument I’ve heard about some of these treatments is that though they’re not science “yet,” science changes. My alarm bells go off when it is some homeopathic remedy they are talking about, but under what circumstances would it be ok to try a treatment that hasn’t been scientifically proven, given a general lack of research?

  86. philstuon 16 May 2009 at 3:34 am

    Hi Steven.

    Perhaps you can write on the water fluoridation issue? (And other sources of fluoride/fluoridation) There is so much information it is difficult to separate the facts from the myths. What is the history of the fluoridation practice? Are there health risks? Is it a case of unethical mass medicating? what are your own ideas? how has the issue been distorted by media, special interest groups, individuals, conspiracists etc.

    Thank you for reading.

  87. Watcheron 16 May 2009 at 3:18 pm


    This just popped up in nature on the 14th. Pretty interesting stuff if you feel like discussing abiogenesis.

  88. Sebastianon 16 May 2009 at 5:08 pm


    I stumbled upon a site on CAM for Swine Flu. Among the usual homeopathy nonsense I found something new (for me at least):

    Emotional Freedom Techniques.

    I quote:

    “There are many accounts of reduction in symptoms using EFT. Although it takes a few minutes to learn the fingertip tapping sequence, it is free to the public and always available.”

    A few minutes! Woohoo! :-)

    I then googled EFT and found it’s proponents, among them Deepak Chopra, claim it can “influence gene activity”, cure “everything from the common cold to multiple sclerosis”, “fear, trauma, depression, grief and schizophrenia”.

    But it doesn’t stop there. There is a series of videos you have to see over at emofree dot com / freevideos.aspx – the video with the vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is disturbing on so many levels.

    Basically, EFT “works” by tapping “energy centers” with the fingers. It’s like accupuncture for belonophobics.

    I am sure you will have a field day with this monstrous load of nonsense.

    I searched through the archives and the SGU podcasts but couldn’t see if you have touched upon it already.

    Warm regards from Denmark

    Oh, btw: http://www.fda.gov/oci/flucontact.html – every skeptic should have this link at hand these days.

  89. glennd1on 17 May 2009 at 2:29 pm


    First, I want to thank you and your compatriots at NESS for the weekly podcasts and your tireless advancement of reason over irrationality. It’s a great comfort to me, someone who doesn’t work in a scientific setting and is confronted with irrational, magical thinking by people on a day to day basis.

    On to my question. I stumbled across an idea being promoted by Bruce Lipton, Ph. D. that smacks of pseudo-science and I wondered what you might have to say about it. Lipton’s argument is that “mind” is a factor in epigenetics, via our subconscious thoughts mainly. He posits that we can avoid disease and heal ourselves via “mind’s” interaction with genes, with the mind commanding the use of various genes as blueprints for protein production that would be better for us versus the blind, predisposed march of genetics.

    He goes on to claim that theory is supported by the concept of epigenetics and is proven by the placebo effect. My skeptical “spidey sense” tells me this is probably nonsense and that the elephantine concept he’s trying to get by me is the existence of “mind” – which I see you debate on the site. Seems to me to be typical new ager nonsense. When you boil the argument down, it’s essentially that some entity or emergent property that can’t be explained is actually in control of our physical existence and that we can control it by some equally opaque process that at it’s best is a black box or at worst a “then some magic happens” step in the theory he’s positing.

    Care to comment? I’d appreciate it. Again, thanks!

    Glenn Donovan

  90. Torgoon 21 May 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this piece from NPR (see link below), especially the details of Dean Radin’s study and its findings mentioned toward the end. I know why the quantum entanglement hypothesis is bologna, but any skeptical thoughts on the following?:

    “After running 36 couples through this test, the researchers found that when one person focused his thoughts on his partner, the partner’s blood flow and perspiration dramatically changed within two seconds. The odds of this happening by chance were 1 in 11,000. Three dozen double blind, randomized studies by such institutions as the University of Washington and the University of Edinburgh have reported similar results.”


    Thanks for all you do.

  91. catherineturleyon 22 May 2009 at 4:48 pm

    read your thoughts on stem cell treatment in china, and one reader’s comment that he just sat back and let his kid die rather than pursue a longshot. i’ve been trying to help a 28 year old bulgarian girl with sma type 2. her doctors tell her there’s nothing she can do, so she is fund raising for treatment at beike. she’s only set on that option because nobody has offered up any alternatives. what do you suggest to someone who doesn’t want to sit back and die? i agree that it’s unproven, maybe a total fraud, but what else is there. i thought maybe she should try to get her hands on a drug being tested for similar conditions, like iplex, but even that isn’t safe or easy to find.

  92. Blair Ton 09 Jun 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I was wondering if you would comment on the current back and forth between Chris Money and Jerry Coyne in their blogs on compatibility and accommodation between science and religion?

    It seems to me that Money is a bit muddled in the points he is trying to make, and I would appreciate hearing comments from a clear thinker such as yourself.



  93. KenKopinon 16 Jun 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Tho I would imagine you are already on this, the FDA advisory about Zicam seems right up your alley. :)

  94. canadiaon 18 Jun 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Steven,

    I’m a 22 year-old university student from canada, and I love you blog. Refreshing and intelligent writing.

    I would love to see what you have to say about the persistent fear-mongering urban legend that radiation from wireless devices like cellphones and wifi routers causes every terrifying disease under the sun.

    To be honest, this seems like a very damaging idea. It has already caused several towns and cities to rescind their plans to increase wifi coverage, sometimes even banning it completely. Its a global phenomenon, and unlike many pseudo-scientific conspiracy theories, these ones do use some scientific data (sufficient or not).

    This idea is spreading and as a prominent scientist with a relevant specialization I think it would be useful for you to weigh in on the issue.



  95. Kitapsizon 19 Jun 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I’d be interested in hearing from you on neuroplasticity, most of the information that can be found goes yea/nay … so, how do we know with any degree of certainty?

    How realistic is the plasticity factor?
    Age dependent?
    Behavioral dependent?
    Dietary dependent?

    How much do we know, factually?

  96. bob_plotkinon 30 Jun 2009 at 11:47 am


    Sitting on the train yesterday, I saw someone reading a book from http://www.lymeinducedautism.com

    I can’t help to think that this is a statistical game playing with correlation of the growth of these.

    Not sure if you have seen this – but with all the blogging on vaccines and autism, I thought it might be interetsing.


  97. amyron 02 Jul 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Steve:

    A topic I haven’t seen addressed on skeptical blogs yet is the efficacy of gastric bypass for long term weight loss. There’s a number of people on the internet (such as http://www.sizewise.com/docs/wls.html) who claim there is no weight loss benefit and the complications just horribly awful. I have no doubt some gastric bypass patients do suffer from serious complications. But trustworthy sources on weight loss results and complication rates are hard to come by.

  98. amyron 10 Jul 2009 at 9:25 am

    Hey Steve:

    Read this article on CNN this morning: “Unsung Heroes Work Hard To Counter Hospital Acquired Infections”


    Most of the interventions are undoubtedly good things, like daily bathing and thorough cleaning of patient rooms. But the yogurt and the pH balanced soap? I’d assume staph operates within the same pH range that we do.

  99. dszyon 17 Jul 2009 at 11:53 am

    I’ve sent this to Quackwatch, SGU forums, & Respectful Insolence. I hope someone with a big following starts talking about it. This autism clinic (!) in Austin is getting sued because it told a man he had Alzheimer’s & then chelated him for 10 months.


    This spreading of the chelation market is very creepy to me. Writing this I remembered that I recently saw something at Age of Autism linking heavy metals & ALS. ( I troll there periodically to see what people are saying. I work with a number of well-off autistic kids, so I try to keep up with the fads).

  100. Woodyon 22 Jul 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I was wondering if you or any of the other bloggers on SBM have tackled the topic of “medical foods”? It seems to me that this is just a method to get FDA approval for a product without going through the same rigorous clinical trial process that a drug must endure. It also seems to be a potential way to give CAM therapies a patina of legitimacy that is not valid. Case in point – Axona. Thanks for all the work you and the others do!

  101. Draalon 23 Jul 2009 at 7:10 am

    Yesterday I was listening to Obama’s address to the Nation about health care reform. One point he emphasized was in order to pay for the new plan was to re-allocate money from programs that have proven not to work. A few things came to mind: abstinence education and alternative medicine. Could Obama’s new health care reform be the death blow to alternative medicine if the government refuses to cover payment for it?

  102. Prataon 12 Aug 2009 at 9:15 pm


    Have you done any analysis of the work being done by Laurel Mellin at the University of California San Francisco — called “The Solution”or “The Pathway”? Here is a reference to their website.

    Thank you very much,

  103. Shiftymruzikon 20 Aug 2009 at 12:03 am

    Dr. Novella,
    I recently got into an argument about critical thinking and neuroscience. I tried to take the stand that critical thinking was a skill and firmly in the nurture camp. Others thought that critical thinking had (and I really hope I’m not misrepresenting their argument) a biological basis. (i.e. that some people by the virtue of their brains are better at it)
    When I returned home I tried to find research on the subject, and I can’t find any. Is there any research on this question? What would your thoughts be on the subject?
    Thanks for the great blog and podcast,
    -Chris Mruzik

  104. praktikon 20 Aug 2009 at 11:29 am

    Ok Steve, help me out here.

    The thimerosal-autism link you’re probably even more tired of hearing about than me, but the local woo-spreader on a message board I’m on has posted the following abstract:


    Have you heard about this study?

    I don’t have access to the full study so I can’t really gauge anything here – and it would seem to contradict a recent post on your blog linking to a study showing low-level thimerosal exposure to kids in Boston having no such effects….

    Do you know anything about the journal it was published in?

  105. praktikon 20 Aug 2009 at 11:32 am

    oops better link here: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a910652305~db=all~jumptype=rss

    and woo links here:



  106. praktikon 20 Aug 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Ok buried in the 2nd woo-link I found out the funder of the study was CoMeD: http://mercury-freedrugs.org/

    Whose URL and stated “values” raise major alarm bells for me.

    But I’m still curious about the journal it got into and some of the details of the study – how did they engineer the outcome they wanted?

    Cause I can’t access the full study its hard for me to say where it went wrong.

  107. Emily Churchon 23 Aug 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Just curious our thoughts on this article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23wright.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1. Some things about it bothered me, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly.

  108. fusionauton 24 Aug 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Hi Steven-

    A friend of mine is interested in the research of Daniel Amen (www.amenclinics.com) and Guy Berard (“auditory integration”). Both look extremely shady to me. I’d be very interested to get your expert opinion on their claims so I could respond to my friend with some specifics. There was a show on PBS recently about Amen, so I expect your comments on him would be of interest to many people besides me.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  109. taustinon 25 Aug 2009 at 6:26 pm

    In depth look at placebos, and the research in to the placebo effect, past and present.


    Placebos are getting more effective? Most of the references to that are related to depression drugs. One cannot help but wonder if this is because depression is over diagnosed, at least in some areas. If you’re told you have depression, you’re likely to believe it (the “nocebo effect”). Then you get drugs that you’re told will make you better, so you feel better. For those on real trial drugs, at least some of them will suffer from the very real side effects, which could well lead to making the depression symtoms (real or imagined) worse.

  110. NiroZon 28 Aug 2009 at 2:57 am

    Recently in my philosophy class we discussed conciousness. It really urked me because they were using it as proof of a dualistic univerise, because it couldn’t be reduced to smaller parts. Has neuroscience got anything to say on the topic?

  111. GHcoolon 08 Sep 2009 at 2:05 am

    I was given a book called In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science by Nathan Aviezer. Aviezer accepts evolution and seems pretty pro-science, but the book argues for a reinterpretation of the Genesis account as a metaphor for what science has discovered about the ancient past. The science in the book is pretty basic, but there’s one part I wasn’t sure about as my knowledge of biochemistry doesn’t extend very far. Aviezer writes:

    “[L]iving cells need both proteins and nucleic acids … [but] neither of these complex molecules can have produced without the other. Therefore, it follows that life could not have developed from inanimate matter because inanimate matter contains neither proteins nor nucleic acids.”

    Aviezer solves the paradox with a “God of the gaps” conclusion, but I’m curious about whether what was quoted about is an accurate description of the present understanding of biochemists.

  112. praktikon 09 Sep 2009 at 7:12 am

    So someone posted this link:


    which purports to show no effect from vaccines on the “end” of various diseases like polio.

    I don’t know where to begin.

  113. neilsteron 09 Sep 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Steve,

    So… my father is slowly recovering from a brain aneurysm and I was googling neuro rehabilitation and came across this piece of quackery:


    As far as I can tell you shine a ($1499.00) torch at a patients head and this helps with the recovery (though you get the impression they would like to take credit for all of the recovery).

    Considering your professional speciality you may have heard of this, but here it is in any case.


  114. DevilsAdvocateon 13 Sep 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Not sure it commands a whole post entry, but it might be nice to acknowledge the death this weekend of a science giant who is virtually unknown to the general public. Norman Borlaug has died, aged 95 years. Rest in peace.

  115. Cronanon 14 Sep 2009 at 5:05 am

    Not an unusal article, given the current state of science journalism, but it’s interestign because it’s on the BBC, who are usually better than this:


    “Depression can damage a cancer patient’s chances of survival, a review of research suggests.”

  116. saburaion 07 Jan 2010 at 11:39 am

    Aha! This thread is working now. The reply panel wasn’t active yesterday for some reason.

  117. saburaion 07 Jan 2010 at 11:43 am

    Now that this is working, I’ll post this suggestion here.

    I read a post on Slashdot (http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/01/06/0027229/The-LHC-Black-Holes-and-the-Law) referencing an MIT news article (http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24611/) about a law review paper (http://arxiv.org/abs/0912.5480) that attempts to deal with the legal issues arising from a hypothetical lawsuit attempting to shut down the LHC, or any other large science project with possible global implications.

    The Slashdot bit was fun, the article was pretty good, but the paper itself was outstanding. It’s 80 pages long and I read the entire thing in one 2 hour sitting. What struck me about the article was its sober parsing of the controversy, the science, and the relevant personalities, and the way it weighed issues rationally against each other while describing, in great detail, all of the logical fallacies and cognitive errors that could come into play.

    Frankly, I thought the author sounded very much like you, Dr. Novella… except he seems to come to different conclusions than you do on the topic of the LHC (specifically, he knows he is unqualified to make a determination on the safety of LHC but makes a convincing argument that the case should be decided in court).

    If you have the time and inclination, I encourage you to read it and possibly discuss it on your blog. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to read the whole thing, the MIT piece does a decent job of distilling it, but you’d be cheating yourself out of a great read.

  118. Shamrockon 08 Jan 2010 at 12:20 pm


    I am new to the Skeptic community and am unaware of another blogger who tackles themes of immigration/racism. Perhaps something you could have a look at if you are in need of a topic is a video currently circulating (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU).

    I found some of the assertions in the video suspicious. For example a supposed quote from the German office of statistics and census (I am paraphrasing the title of the office) citing unsustainable fertility levels. I have searched the offices website and find no direct link to any such study.

    An additional assertion was that France “as we know it” would be extinct in precisely 39 years.

    I have no evidence yet to hold these claims in refute though I am, well, skeptical of them.

  119. JLoatson 11 Jan 2010 at 11:38 pm


    Fun to hear you on NPR the other day!

    I was hoping to find an entry either here or in SBM about Bisphenol-A (BPA). Has that been done?



  120. MrkBo8on 14 Jan 2010 at 12:00 am

    Hi all, just joined the site as i am looking for opinion on something myself and others may have discovered that is not yes oriented.
    i invite you to watch this video, the technique can be repeated anywhere in the world and is 100% succesful so what are we filming, instructions are provided if you wish to try yourself and I hope that you do.

    Ignore the small white dots, I cannot prove they are not insects so will accept they may as well be.

    Perhaps the objects are due to camera distortion somehow but the same objects have been filmed in different parts of the world, maybe a new species of animal? I dont know.

    UFO’s over Canberra

    UFO Flying creature

    I am convinced they are not green/grey dudes in space ships but am leaning to a kind of life that inhabits our atmosphere , they are visible in Infa Red but not clearly in visible light so are hard to see with our eyes, easy with a camera.

    i have provided a quick demo on how the camera picks up IR at the end of the 1st video.

    Anyone can video them, no cgi is used, try for yourself and decide what you think.



    If its a new species of animal, I want one named after me.

  121. Hector Moraleson 18 Jan 2010 at 11:01 pm

    The assassination of JFK. I noticed you and an emailer discussed it briefly. If it has been examined elsewhere on your website, I haven’t found it. I appreciate your scholarship.
    Several issues trouble me.
    1.) Marina’s involvement with Lee; her answers to the WC, the SS and the HSCA.
    2.) The condition of the bullet after it penetrated JFK and Connally.
    3.) The direction of the break in Connally’s radius and the trajectory of the missile.
    4.) Statements made by Dr. Gregory and other M.D.s regarding the probability that WC Exhibit 399 caused all the wounds in JFK’s back/neck and Connally’s torso, right forearm and left thigh.
    5.) Bertrand Russell’s questions, particularly on the appearance of a conflict of interest with the investigators and the government that assigned them.

  122. Coverdrivenon 21 Jan 2010 at 6:33 am

    Hi Steven,

    a presentation from David Blaine was recently posted on the TED.com website. In it, he explains how he successfully held his breath for 17 minutes on an Oprah Winfrey show. He explained his technique for pulling it off. Should one believe him? Does it defy current medical understanding? He did say that he consulted neurologists and other doctors in his preparations for this stunt.

    I thought that if a magician explains the secret to his/her trick, you can usually be sure that the explanation given isn’t the actual secret at all. Rather, it is a means to propel the mystery and awe further.


    Any thoughts?


  123. PDCon 23 Jan 2010 at 10:47 am

    Just came accross Oxytocin. Here is a brief summary that I think I know.

    Our bodies can produce it. If it is given to a person as a nasal spray for example, it can increase empathy, reduce fear etc.

    So I was thinking. How much is empathy something that is a chemical reaction and how much can it be learned? Is learned empathy someways different? Should it be called something else? If you increase your ability to empathize by, lets say, working in a place where you can help people out, is it somehow different if you just “take a hit from the ol’ Oxytocin bottle”?

    How would “Oxytocin shots” help for example prisoners to become “better humans”?

    And other ideas can arise from this. Its endless.

    Would love to hear your take Steven

  124. khalednouimehidion 23 Jan 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Hey love your blog… I’ve got a few suggestions.
    1. Often psychology & psychotherapy is attacked for not being backed up by tangible proof of efficacy. However, Freud argues in his introduction to Lectures on Psycho-Analysis that this is because psycho-analysis and its use cannot be demonstrated to the public as that would be a breach of ethics–it can only be described. What do you think as a neurologist & a skeptic about psychology’s merits as a discipline or as a practice?
    2. I was having trouble earlier this year because I would struggle staying awake after 10 hours of sleep a night with 30 min. naps around 3:00. I went to my neurologist (who I was originally referred to for migraine problems) and he prescribed Concerta (methylphenidate HCl). He then described to me in such non chalante tones how he often self-medicates with it when he needs to focus. What do you think about the off-label use of Alzheimer’s of ADHD drugs as so-called “brain boosters”?
    3. There is a lot of crap out there as far as the dietary benefits of Ginseng, Mate Vana, herbal remedies, and antioxidants as far as their effects on overall health & longevity. Obviously these things cannot be taken seriously, but what can you, as a doctor, tell us about increasing longevity & bodily health? Do we stick to conservative, recognized pillars of good health, or can we do something more?
    4. I have been reading Think Smart by Richard Restak, M.D. and Brain Rules by John Medina, and what struck me most (more from Brain Rules) was the mass of knowledge on how to teach and learn, and how little these facts are being applied. Especially in the realm of math & science, I have noticed that my teachers (11th grade) seek to assign work and get through the day as opposed to teaching fundamental concepts. For example, my anatomy & physiology teacher bases his class solely on the rote memorization of muscle names (he doesn’t even explain how they were named; this would help immensely), while half the class still does not understand how a muscle contracts. I know you already did a piece on science education, but I am curious to know what measures should be implemented to make for a more educated America in the subjects of the future.
    Thanks, hope you read this

  125. open4energyon 25 Jan 2010 at 12:58 pm


    You posted on power factor correction in homes last year, but I would like you to take this up again.

    We now have a whole family of internet scams around home energy saving, from DIY solar panels to power factor solutions costing $1,500.00 – all do nothing to save.

    I am the founder of open4energy where we have a list of the more prevalent scams.


    We are working with a site called http://scamraiders.com to raise awareness and provide a forum for sharing and finding remedy.

    On power factor correction, we have a post thanks to an expert from splatco, explaining how it works – but bottom line the savings to all but a few consumers is negligible.


    We need some help to reach the growing community of energy conscientious consumers, motivated by government stimulus, who do not know much about electricity and are vulnerable to these scam people who prey on misfortune.

    Many of the web sites promoting these products are in fact affiliates, out of work people, duped into buying a web business that is now the perpetuation of a scam based on a scam.

  126. Fifion 27 Jan 2010 at 11:03 am

    I just ran across this blog and thought this might be an interesting topic to cover since it talks about why Dr. Lawrence Dubuske resigned from Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s hospital when they recently changed the rules regarding taking money from pharmaceutical companies. Also, Dr. Carlat and his efforts seem worthy of a post themselves. (Sure it’s fun to castigate the woo merchants, they’re easy targets, but it’s also good to promote those fighting the good fight and to make it clear that there are many doctors and psychiatrists doing this!)


  127. isaoneon 27 Jan 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I am in desperate need of someone who understands these things to tell me if this study http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm is proof that GM corn is bad for us as stateed in The Huffington post ( http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20100112/cm_huffpost/420365 ) or no problem at all as states GM ( http://www.monsanto.com/products/techandsafety/fortherecord_science/2010/monsanto_response_de_vendomois.asp ) .

    Now I am no fan of Monsanto but given that the Huff Post is completely run over with wacko’s my assumption is that whatever they say is opposite the truth. On the other hand even the National Inquirer occasionally gets it right (John Edwards love child).

    So I would appreciate it if you could review the study and let me/us know. If you are aware of any rational fair minded report that could explain it in layman terms, that would also be great.

    Thanks for being a voice of reason in the world of illogic

    Wendell Henry
    Nashville TN

  128. Hector Moraleson 29 Jan 2010 at 5:57 am

    Testimony Of Dr. Robert Roeder Shaw

    Mr. DULLES – Could you tell at all how the arm was held from that mark or that hole in the sleeve?
    Dr. SHAW – Mr. Dulles, I thought I knew Just how the Governor was wounded until I saw the pictures today, and it becomes a little bit harder to explain.
    I felt that the wound had been caused by the same bullet that came out through the chest with the Governor’s arm held in approximately this position.

    Mr. SPECTER – Indicating the right hand held close to the body?
    Dr. SHAW – Yes, and this is still a possibility. But I don’t feel that it is the only possibility.
    Senator COOPER – Why do you say you don’t think it is the only possibility? What causes you now to say that it is the location—-
    Dr. SHAW – This is again the testimony that I believe Dr. Gregory will be giving, too. It is a matter of whether the wrist wound could be caused by the same bullet, and we felt that it could but we had not seen the bullets until today, and we still do not know which bullet actually inflicted the wound on Governor Connally.
    Mr. DULLES – Or whether it was one or two wounds?
    Dr. SHAW – Yes.
    Mr. DULLES – Or two bullets?
    Dr. SHAW – Yes; or three.
    Mr. DULLES – Why do you say three?

    Mr. DULLES – Oh, yes; we haven’t. come to the wound of the thigh yet, have we?
    Mr. McCLOY – You have no firm opinion that all these three wounds were caused by one bullet?
    Dr. SHAW – I have no firm opinion.

    Dr. SHAW – All right. As far as the wounds of the chest are concerned, I feel that this bullet could have inflicted those wounds. But the examination of the wrist both by X-ray and at the time of surgery showed some fragments of metal that make it difficult to believe that the same missile could have caused these two wounds. There seems to be more than three grains of metal missing as far as the I mean in the wrist.

    Dr. SHAW – I feel that there would be some difficulty in explaining all of the wounds as being inflicted by bullet Exhibit 399 without causing more in the way of loss of substance to the bullet or deformation of the bullet.
    (Discussion off the record.)

    “I think it is hard to say that the first bullet hit both of these men almost simultaneously.

  129. Carlon 29 Jan 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Dr. Novella:

    You might want to review this article by Christopher Ketcham in GQ, asserting among other things that cell phone radiation is known to be “genotoxic” and that American corporations are covering this up.


  130. Hector Moraleson 30 Jan 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Dr. Novella,
    Are you familiar with the x-ray of Connally’s radius? It poses a problem for me when I look at it carefully. The angle of the break goes in the opposite direction of the path of the bullet. That is, if the bullet actually passed through the governor’s chest and his right radius and ended up penetrating his left thigh.

    “Mr. SPECTER. Now looking at that bullet, Exhibit 399, Doctor Humes, could that bullet have gone through or been any part of the fragment passing through President Kennedy’s head in Exhibit No. 388?

    Commander HUMES. I do not believe so, sir.

    Mr. SPECTER. And could that missile have made the wound on Governor Connally’s right wrist?

    Commander HUMES. I think that that is most unlikely … The reason I believe it most unlikely that this missile could have inflicted either of these wounds is that this missile is basically intact; its jacket appears to me to be intact, and I do not understand how it could possibly have left fragments in either of these locations.

    Mr. SPECTER. Dr. Humes, under