How We Believe

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.

A Refreshing Take on Dealing with Cancer

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.

Estrogen Matters

Hormone replacement therapy in menopause is safer and more effective than we have been led to believe. A new book examines the evidence and sets the record straight. Estrogen replacement stops hot flashes cold and is a veritable Fountain of Youth. Estrogen replacement is dangerous: it kills women. It prevents heart disease. It causes heart

The Case That CAM Is Unethical

Edzard Ernst is arguably the world’s foremost expert on the claims and the evidence (or lack thereof) for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Now he has teamed up with a medical ethicist, Kevin Smith, to co-author a new book, More Harm than Good? The Moral Maze of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Much has been written on

Naturopathy Textbook

The Textbook of Natural Medicine reveals what students of naturopathy are taught. It claims to be a scientific presentation, but it reveals just how unscientific naturopathy is. It mixes good science with bad science, pseudoscience, outright errors of fact, vitalism, philosophy, ancient history, superstition, gullibility, misrepresentations, metaphysics, religion, hearsay, opinion, and anecdotes. Note: This is

Shermer Tackles the Big Questions

A review of Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia, By Michael Shermer, Henry Holt and Co., 2018. $30.00. 320 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-62779-857-0. In 1997, Michael Shermer wrote one of the classics of skepticism, Why People Believe Weird Things. He has continued to produce skeptical books at regular intervals, with topics

Mosconi’s Brain Food Diet

Lisa Mosconi has a web and media presence and a book Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power. She claims, “There is increasing evidence that implementing the lifestyle changes described in this book has the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing and also to help slow down or even halt progression of

Another Kind of Evolutionary Medicine

Last month I wrote about a book on evolutionary medicine that I could not recommend. Now I’ve found one I can recommend. Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Riverside, has written a delightful book entitled Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Make Us Who We Are.

A Feast of Science

Did you know that Samuel Hahnemann, the misguided father of homeopathy, was an accomplished chemist who developed the first chemical test for arsenic? His test was applied in a poisoning trial in England: it was positive, but the color of the sample had deteriorated by the time it got to the jury, and they were

Not In Your Stars

Astronomy is science; astrology is superstition, mythology, and pseudoscience. Depending on how surveys ask the question, anywhere from 22 percent to 73 percent of people believe astrology is valid. Horoscopes still appear regularly in newspapers. Over 90 percent of adults know their zodiac sign. It never occurs to some people to question whether horoscopes are