The Magic Feather Effect: Placebos and the Power of Belief in Alternative Medicine

In her book The Magic Feather Effect, journalist Melanie Warner covers placebo research, shows that alternative medicine is placebo medicine, takes a “try it yourself” approach, and gives belief and anecdotes more credit than they deserve. In the movie Dumbo, a little elephant with large ears can fly by flapping them like wings, but he refuses to

Critical Thinking in Medicine

Rodin’s Thinker is doing his best to think but if he hasn’t learned critical thinking skills, he is likely to make mistakes. The human brain is prone to a multitude of cognitive errors. Critical thinking in medicine is what the Science-Based Medicine (SBM) blog is all about. Jonathan Howard has written a superb book, Cognitive Errors

Autism Revisited

Is the autism epidemic due to more awareness and better diagnosis, or to diagnostic substitution? Is it due to something that has changed in our environment? Is there really an autism epidemic? Gil Eyal et al., the authors of the book The Autism Matrix: The Social Origins of the Autism Epidemic wonder if we have been asking

Leaky Brain, Leaky Gut: Are They Real?

First there was leaky gut; now there’s leaky brain. These questionable concepts are being promoted by practitioners of so-called “functional medicine.” First there was leaky gut  Three years ago Mark Crislip wrote about leaky gut syndrome for SBM. He said, “because of an almost complete lack of supporting basic science and few therapeutic clinical trials showing no effect,

Rapid-onset Gender Dysphoria and Squelching Controversial Evidence

A flawed study suggested that rapid onset gender dysphoria around the time of puberty might be a result of peer pressure and media influence. It raised some important questions, but Brown University succumbed to pressure from activists and removed it from its website. On August 16, 2018, Lisa Littman, an assistant professor at Brown University,

Gender Dysphoria in Children

Gender transitions are becoming more and more common. Adults can make informed decisions about hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgeries, but what about children? In 1952, front page headlines trumpeted “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” George Jorgensen was an American army veteran who had sex reassignment surgery in Denmark and returned to the US as a

Reflex Integration Therapy

Reflex integration therapy claims to relieve a variety of symptoms of a wide range of neurologic conditions including autism, ADHD, brain injuries, pain, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, and more. I touched on the subject in a previous article, but there are new developments. Now we have Quantum Reflex Integration with the addition of cold

Freud Was a Fraud: A Triumph of Pseudoscience

Psychiatry is arguably the least science-based of all the medical specialties, and Freudian psychoanalysis is arguably the least science-based psychotherapy. Freud’s theories have been widely criticized as unscientific, and treatment of mental disorders has increasingly turned to psychotropic medications and effective therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Freud’s impact on 20th century thought is undeniable, but

The Brain Warrior’s Way: Standard Health Advice Mixed with Misinformation and Fanciful Ideas

Daniel Amen, the media-savvy psychiatrist and promoter of SPECT scans, has teamed-up with his wife Tana to write a self-help book that hopelessly muddles good medical advice with misinformation and speculation. Dr. Daniel Amen has been called the most popular psychiatrist in America. His main claim to fame is the SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)

BrainPlus IQ: Lying with Advertising

I got an email urging me to check out a wonderful new product that boosts brain performance: it “doubles IQ, skyrockets energy levels, and connects areas of the brain not previously connected.” It is BrainPlus IQ, a dietary supplement that falls into the category of nootropics, substances that enhance cognition and memory. After looking into