Joe Schwarcz’s new book Quack Quack is an informative and entertaining look at quackery and pseudoscience past and present. A delightful read. Dr. Joe Schwarcz, the Director of McGill University’s Office of Science and Society, has written many books (seventeen by my count) mostly explaining the chemistry of everyday life.… read more "Quack Quack"
Balm of Gilead
Balm of Gilead was mentioned in the Bible, but we don’t know what was in it. It is supposed to relieve pain, but we don’t know if it is effective; there are no controlled studies. I have been watching the National Geographic series Life Below Zero which profiles people who live off… read more "Balm of Gilead"
Neuroplasticity Nonsense Is Full of Red Flags
Adora Winquist offers advice about neuroplasticity, but hers is not the language of science or reality. Neuroplasticity is real and is being used in rehabilitation. We have learned that the adult brain can grow new neurons and the brain can be re-wired to function in new ways. In a recent email… read more "Neuroplasticity Nonsense Is Full of Red Flags"
Joovv and Other Red Light Therapies
The Joovv Go is a handheld device for red light therapy. Red light therapy remains controversial: most of the claims are not supported by credible scientific evidence. I recently received an email urging me to try the Joovv Go, a small handheld device designed to provide red light therapy while… read more "Joovv and Other Red Light Therapies"
Death by Aromatherapy
An aromatherapy room spray was contaminated with bacteria that caused melioidosis, resulting in deaths and serious sequelae. Buyers were misled. When cases of melioidosis were diagnosed in four patients in four different states, doctors were puzzled. Melioidosis, infection with the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, is typically associated with exposure to soil and water in… read more "Death by Aromatherapy"
The Prince of Alternative Medicine
It’s common knowledge that Prince Charles is a persistent and outspoken champion of alternative medicine, but the full story has never been told until now. Edzard Ernst reveals all the shocking details in this unauthorized biography. The shocks come from Charles’ own words, which Ernst quotes extensively. It is beyond… read more "The Prince of Alternative Medicine"
Nuubu: Here We Go Again! Recycling Debunked Foot Detox Myths
Companies come and go, but the claims remain the same, that you can (insert claim) with (insert product) without any evidence. A new company offering magical footpads are just putting new wine in old bottles. In an ideal world, rational people would stop believing false claims that had been conclusively… read more "Nuubu: Here We Go Again! Recycling Debunked Foot Detox Myths"
Living with Uncertainty
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. It is only natural to want certainty. It is more comfortable to be certain and wrong than to be uncertain. Like anyone else, I would like to be comfortable, but I think truth matters. I’d rather be uncertain than wrong; wouldn’t you? As Voltaire said, “Uncertainty is… read more "Living with Uncertainty"
‘Clinically Tested’—What Does That Mean?
They used to call useless treatments “snake oil.” We don’t hear that term anymore; now they may be called “dietary supplements” or “natural remedies.” A dietary supplement may contain a single herb or a combination of several ingredients. The ads frequently say they have been “clinically tested” or “clinically proven.”… read more "‘Clinically Tested’—What Does That Mean?"
Alternative Medicine: Placebos for Pets
A skeptical veterinarian reviews the evidence for alternative medicine for pets, and concludes it’s mostly placebos. She thinks she’s adjusting the horse’s subluxations. She isn’t; she’s practicing placebo medicine.Alternative medicine is accepted by many humans, but we may forget that it is also imposed on their pets. Veterinarian Brennen McKenzie… read more "Alternative Medicine: Placebos for Pets"