Bad Books

In the interests of fairness and intellectual honesty, I’ve forced myself to read a lot of really bad books. The True Believer tells me his guru’s book is the Real Stuff. He tells me I have a closed mind and won’t look at anything outside establishment dogma, and if I only read the book and

A Message from the Spirit World

I have received a personal message from beyond the grave, in the form of an audio file. It was posted at under the heading American Chiropractors apply for the Zerobrainer Award. It seems that D. D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, has been monitoring the Quackwatch Healthfraud discussion list and the Science-Based Medicine blog from

Healing But Not Curing

Last week I discussed the book Healing, Hype, or Harm? edited by Edzard Ernst. I was particularly struck by one of the essays in that book: “Healing but not Curing” by Bruce Charlton, MD, a reader in evolutionary psychiatry at the Department of Psychology of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Charlton proposes a new

Edzard Ernst Does It Again

Publishing one excellent book is an accomplishment; publishing two in one year is a truly outstanding achievement. In 2008 Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh published a landmark book Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine. I reviewed it on this blog last summer.  It is particularly important since Ernst is a former advocate


Psychiatry is arguably the least science-based of the medical specialties. Because of that, it comes in for a lot of criticism. Much of the criticism is justified, but some critics make the mistake of dismissing even the possibility that psychiatry could be scientific. They throw the baby out with the bathwater. I agree that psychiatry

Science-based Longevity Medicine

Much nonsense has been written in the guise of longevity medicine. In Fantastic Voyage, Ray Kurzweil explains why he takes 250 pills every day and spends one day a week at a clinic getting IV vitamins, chelation, and acupuncture. He is convinced this regimen will keep him alive long enough for science to figure out

Playing by the Rules

 It is useless for skeptics to argue with someone who doesn’t play by the rules of science and reason. If no amount of evidence will change your opponent’s mind, you are wasting your breath. I recently read Flock of Dodos (no relation to the movie of the same name). It’s a hilarious no-holds-barred send-up of

Polypharmacy – Is It Evidence-Based?

Polypharmacy essentially means taking too many pills. It’s a real problem, especially in the elderly. A family doctor gives an elderly patient one pill for diabetes, another for high blood pressure, and another to lower cholesterol. The patient sees a rheumatologist for his arthritis and gets arthritis pills. Then he sees a psychiatrist for depression

Are Cardiologists Ordering Too Many CT Angiograms?

A really snazzy new invention allows doctors to see inside their patients’ hearts as never before: the CT angiogram. It produces gorgeous 3-D video images of the beating heart in action. It allows us to see the blood flow through the heart’s chambers and it shows any plaque in the coronary arteries. Cardiologists are understandably

Death By Medicine

Critics of “conventional” medicine delight in pointing out how much harm it causes. Carolyn Dean, Gary Null, and others have written extensively about “death by medicine.” A typical statement (from says: A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than