What Does It Feel Like to Die?

We’re all going to die; we wonder what it will feel like. This book describes what typically happens during the period between diagnosis of a fatal illness and death. ca. 1882, Washington, DC, USA — Washington, DC.: President Garfield Lying Wounded In His Room At The White House, Washington. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS We’re

How Not To Do Science

According to research methodologist R. Barker Bausell, “CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] therapists simply do not value (and most, in my experience, do not understand) the scientific process.” They have seen their patients improve, and that’s all the “evidence” they think they need. They don’t understand that they may have been deceived by the post hoc ergo

Vitamin D and Diabetes: Another Case Where Supplementation Sounded Like a Good Idea But Wasn’t

A new study shows vitamin D supplements don’t prevent diabetes. But there are still unanswered questions. This cartoon shows vitamin D killing cancer. It doesn’t. It doesn’t prevent diabetes either. Low vitamin D levels appear to be a risk factor for diabetes. Observational studies have found a correlation between a low blood level of Vitamin

American Family Physician Endorses Acupuncture

A CME article in American Family Physician misrepresents the evidence, claiming acupuncture has been proven safe and effective. An accompanying editorial gives despicable advice on how to manipulate patients to accept this theatrical placebo. The flagship journal of my specialty of family medicine is the American Family Physician. Each issue contains a quiz that qualifies for continuing medical

Vyleesi: New Drug for Hypoactive Sexual Desire in Women

New drug to treat hypoactive sexual desire in women, Vyleesi, is not very effective and has several drawbacks. It is NOT Viagra for women. The FDA has approved a new drug, Vyleesi (bremelanotide) that has been hyped as “female Viagra”. It is no such thing. Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men who

Bee Stings for Arthritis

Bee sting therapy may be somewhat effective for arthritis, but it can’t be recommended. Are bee strings [correction: stings, not strings!] an effective treatment for arthritis? Many patients with arthritis have reported that their symptoms went away after they were stung by bees. There are testimonials galore from beekeepers whose arthritis resolved after they were

I Was Wrong (And I Bet You Were Too)

For me, one of the great pleasures of skepticism is finding out I was wrong about something. Rather than feeling guilty about my error, I feel proud that I have learned something and have a better understanding of reality. When skeptics encounter a questionable claim, they do some fact-checking. But what if they don’t realize

Luminas: Unbelievable Claims About Pain Relief

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. The claims for the Luminas pain relief patch are not just unscientific; they defy common sense. It’s quantum quackery. This will be a short post about a product that doesn’t deserve even this much attention. Recently my Facebook feed has been bombarded with

Skin pH: Salesmanship, Not Science

People are being encouraged to worry about the pH of their skin and to try to change it. These concerns and interventions are not supported by scientific evidence. You have probably heard of the alkaline diet. Public knowledge of pH, the scale by which acids and bases are measured, is plagued by misinformation. People who

The Scientific Attitude, Not the Scientific Method, Is the Key

A philosopher of science argues that science is not characterized by a specific scientific method but by the scientific attitude. Scientists value empirical evidence and follow the evidence wherever it leads. They are open to changing their mind rather than stubbornly clinging to an ideological belief system. Science is under attack. The evidence for global