The new science of molecular phylogenetics tells the story of evolution with no need to consult the fossil record. It has produced some surprises, including a whole new domain of life, the archaea. Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species was a well-written, well-argued introduction to evolution, to the theory that populations evolve and species differentiate
The human body is clearly not the product of an intelligent designer. Its many flaws tell the fascinating story of evolution’s accidents and constraints. In his new book Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes, Nathan Lents, a professor of biology at John Jay College, CUNY, has demonstrated that
Vaccines are unquestionably one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine. Smallpox was the deadliest scourge in human history. It was responsible for 300-500 million deaths in the 20thcentury alone, when it was already on its way out. Thanks to vaccines, smallpox has been completely eradicated. And now polio is well on its way to
In James Alcock’s classic 1995 article “The Belief Engine,” he said, “Our brains and nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine, a system that evolved to assure not truth, logic, and reason, but survival.” Now he has expanded that thesis into a book, Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling.It’s
Ayurveda recommends gold water, silver water, and copper water to treat various conditions. There is no evidence that they work or even that they contain gold, silver, or copper. From Kangen water to oxygenated water, there are enough pseudoscientific and quacky water offerings to fill an entire website devoted to water-related pseudoscience, fantasy, and quackery.
The AAFP is not following its own standards for CME. Its monograph on Musculoskeletal Therapies devotes 1/4 of its content to acupuncture, dry needling, and cupping; and one of its four “key practice recommendations” is to consider electroacupuncture for fibromyalgia. Jann Bellamy recently wrote about the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and their policy
More evidence that flu shots work, that they are safe during pregnancy, and that they don’t cause autism. Last week I wrote about influenza vaccines. I provided a link to a site summarizing the evidence that flu shots are effective and safe. Nevertheless, one reader commented “The flu vaccine does not work,” citing a Cochrane
Flu shots are safe and effective. They not only protect the recipient but others in the community who are more vulnerable. Get your flu shot! It’s that time of the year again: time to get our flu shots. Flu shots are undeniably safe and effective, although they are not as effective as we might wish.
Book review of Persevere: A Life with Cancer, by Lisa Bonchek Adams. This book is a gem. Lisa Bonchek Adams was an atheist, a realist, and a talented writer and poet. Before her recent death from breast cancer, she shared her experience and her insights with the world in the form of blogs and poems.
Stem cell treatments are all the rage. Since they’re mostly illegal in the US, patients have been going to other countries for treatment (stem cell tourism). The claims are grandiose, but the evidence to support those claims is thin gruel. What are stem cells? Embryonic stem cells are the cells in the early embryo that