Great Courses: Skeptic’s Guide to Health, Medicine, and the Media

The Great Courses offers continuing education for adults in a wide variety of subjects. They search out the best college professors and have put together over 500 expertly-produced video courses. You can buy them individually or subscribe to The Great Courses Plus, which gives you unlimited access to all their courses. I am a long-time customer,

An HBO Documentary about the Theranos Fraud Raises Concerns

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos to develop a device that could do 200 tests on a single drop of blood in a minute. She lied; it failed; she is being tried for fraud and conspiracy. The HBO documentary The Inventor tells the story but has some flaws. We can learn lessons from what happened. Alex Gibney’s film The Inventor:

For Discussion: Should I Write Only About Fake Stuff If It Is Well-Known?

A person who describes himself as a “pseudoscience fighter” e-mailed me to chastise me for writing about Prodovite last week. He felt compelled to offer me some advice. He made some good points; but they were things I had already thought about, and they didn’t change my mind. I thought it might be useful to open

The “Evidence” for Prodovite Is Junk Science

Prodovite is a liquid nutritional supplement marketed as “nutrition you can feel.” The claims are pseudoscientific nonsense and the single unblinded clinical study is junk science that relies on a bogus test: live cell microscopy. I recently got an email asking: What are your thoughts on this supplement? It seems to be a very good

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: A Fiasco with a Silver Lining

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment studied black men with advanced syphilis for 40 years. Patients were lied to and prevented from getting treatment. A black mark in the history of American medicine, it led to important reforms. The Tuskegee experiment was one of the most regrettable incidents in the history of medicine in the U.S. Conducted

Homeopath Quits Homeopathy but Thinks the Homeopathic Approach Has Value

A former homeopath shows that there’s nothing scientific about homeopathy; in fact, it contradicts all known scientific principles. Nevertheless she finds value in the homeopathic approach to the patient and thinks all providers can learn from it. Natalie Grams is a German MD who was an enthusiastic practitioner of classical homeopathy. She had a successful

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

Kidney Cancer and Incidentalomas

Kidney cancer diagnoses are increasing but there has been no increase in mortality or rate of metastases. Kidney cancer is most often diagnosed as an incidental finding on a CT scan that was done for unrelated reasons. Treatment may not always be needed. In the February 1, 2019 issue of American Family Physician, there is an

Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches

Caffeine is not addictive. Regular users of caffeine can develop tolerance and mild physical dependence, and sudden withdrawal can cause headaches and other symptoms (but only in half the population). This is does not qualify as addiction. In the Feb/March 2019 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, there was an article by John Frantz, MD, titled “The Biology

Misleading Ad for Apeaz

An ad for Apeaz in Discover Magazine is misleading. Its active ingredient may provide some temporary relief of pain, but the claims in the ad are overblown. It is not a new blockbuster drug or an anesthetic. I saw a full-page ad in Discover Magazine for Apeaz, a “New blockbuster arthritis drug” in the form of a cream. Almost