Patients Who Deceive

Loren Pankratz’s book Patients Who Deceive covers the whole spectrum of different kinds of deception. It is well written, informative, and entertaining, with case examples that read like detective stories. As Dr. House says on the TV series, “Everybody lies”. Doctors know their patients can’t always be trusted to provide a complete and accurate history. For one

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

I have long been skeptical of the diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Here’s what I wrote about it four years ago in an article in Skeptic magazine: An episode of ABC’s Nightline news show about Dr. Rea’s controversial diagnoses and treatments aired in 2009. I was appalled by the interviews with a patient diagnosed by Dr. Rea as sensitive to almost everything

Culture-Bound Psychosomatic Syndromes

Suzanne O’Sullivan is an Irish neurologist who traveled the world to investigate mystery illnesses and epidemics of mass hysteria. In her book The Sleeping Beauties And Other Stories of Mystery Illness she recounts fascinating stories and redefines what it means to have a psychosomatic illness. She explains how making social problems visible on the body allows voiceless

Genetic Testing for Selection of Psychotropic Medications

GeneSight is a blood test to determine which neuropsychiatric medications are indicated for an individual based on genetic analysis. The test is expensive and not likely to be helpful for most patients. Patients who suffer from major depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions usually improve with medication, but about half of patients fail to respond to

Mayim Bialik’s Neuriva Commercials Make Questionable Claims

Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist. In her TV commercials for Neuriva Plus she asserts that it is backed by strong science. I don’t think so. I wrote about the brain supplement Neuriva over a year ago. I thought their claim to have proof from clinical studies was misleading. I won’t repeat here what I said there

¿Qué es la hipnosis?

[This article is also available in English. Thanks to Pensar for the Spanish translation.] ¿La hipnosis es real? ¿La gente realmente entra en trance o es solo una cuestión de imaginación y juego de roles? Algunas personas lo juran. Un sitio web proclama que el poder de tu mente es ilimitado: “El estado mental altamente concentrado, pero

Hypnosis Revisited

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] Is hypnosis for real? Do people actually go into a trance, or is it just a matter of imagination and role playing? Some people swear by it. One website proclaims that “Your mind power is limitless…The highly focused, yet

Self Esteem Is Overrated

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] Most people believe that fostering self-esteem in children will have many benefits, from happiness to better school performance, but that belief is not supported by the evidence. We are encouraged to reward children and not punish them,

Visual Stress

The Opticalm Clinic claims to diagnose and treat visual stress with colored lenses and other aids. Visual stress is a poorly defined, questionable condition and Opticalm’s claims are not backed by scientific evidence. What does “visual stress” mean? It appears to be a new term for what has also been called Irlen syndrome (described by Steve Novella

Shooting the Messenger: Activists Persecute Scientists Whose Findings They Don’t Like

Alice Dreger’s book recounts many instances of shooting the messenger, when scientists were persecuted for research findings that activists found objectionable. Social justice matters, but it should rely on science and reality, not ideology. Don’t shoot him. He’s just bringing a message. Alice Dreger is an academic historian who has been active in supporting those

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