Ultrasound Screening, Fish Oil, and Ear Candles: Sometimes Ignorance is Bliss

I never thought I’d be promoting ignorance!  I’ve always thought the more information, the better; but there are exceptions. I’m going to explain something that is very counterintuitive and grates against every fiber of our truth-seeking skeptical brains. The ad shouts, “Tests That Can Save Your Life… Stroke is America’s third leading killer… Half of

Double Blind or Double Talk? Reading Medical Research with a Skeptical Eye

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a new drug was tested carefully by its manufacturer, demonstrated to be safe, and approved by the FDA. After it went on the market, people started reporting a lot of side effects. An independent researcher thought the drug manufacturer’s studies might have been biased (after all, they

Don’t Let Them Hoodia-Wink You

I first heard of Hoodia last summer, when a radio ad told me it was the new miracle weight loss pill. Since then, I’ve been seeing ads for Hoodia everywhere. Anna Nicole Smith took it. It was featured on Oprah.  Lesley Stahl went to Africa to taste the plant on 60 Minutes. There are nearly

Andrew Weil: Harvard Hatched a Gullible Guru

Book review of Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-care for Optimum Health. By Andrew Weil. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004. ISBN 0-618-47903-1. 432 pp. Softcover, $14. Andrew Weil’s Natural Health, Natural Medicine is a dangerous book. The preface states: “All the information is consistent with the best scientific evidence currently available.”

Dubious Genetic Testing

Stephen Barrett, M.D. Harriet Hall, M.D. During the past year, a few companies have begun offering genetic testing combined with guidance on diet, supplement strategies, lifestyle changes, and/or drug usage which they claim can improve health outcomes. This article explains why such testing should be avoided. Until recently, hereditary tendencies were determined mainly by examining

A Skeptical View of the Perricone Prescription

Harriet Hall, M.D. Stephen Barrett, M.D. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., has written three similar books: The Wrinkle Cure [1], The Perricone Prescription [2]; and The Acne Prescription [3]. All contain many claims that are questionable, controversial, fanciful, unsupported by published evidence, or just plain wrong. Although he mentions standard skin-care treatments, sometimes favorably, his books provide

Analysis of Claims and of an Experiment to Prove That Oxygen is Present in “Vitamin O”

 ABSTRACT Background: “Vitamin O” is being sold as an oxygen supplement. Direct analysis has shown that it contains no oxygen. A scientific study published on the manufacturer’s website claims to have demonstrated the presence of oxygen in the product indirectly, by demonstrating increases in blood oxygen in anemic subjects taking the product. Objective and design: The study