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

¿Estas gotas para leer pueden reemplazar a los anteojos?

[This article is also available in English. Thanks to Pensar for this Spanish translation.] Vuity es un nuevo colirio que se vende bajo receta. Un artículo de Scientific American dice: “Estas gotas podrían reemplazar sus anteojos para leer”. ¿Podrían realmente? ¿Como puede ser? ¿Realmente funcionan? Más o menos, más o menos… para algunas personas… durante unas horas…

Can These Eyedrops Replace Reading Glasses?

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] You’ve probably seen the ads. Vuity is a new prescription eyedrop. An article in Scientific American says, “These drops could replace your reading glasses.” Could they really? How can that be? Do they really work? Kind of, sort of …

The World’s Most Deadly Animal

Animals can be hazardous to human health. When asked to name the most dangerous animal, many people will give the wrong answer. Sharks have captured the attention of the public, and other animals that kill people may come to mind, like black widow spiders, rabid dogs, and venomous snakes. And don’t forget the human animal:

The Science and Pseudoscience of Aging

Some animals (such as hydras and some jellyfish) can apparently live forever, but we humans are all going to die. Longevity is desirable, but aging—a slow process of deterioration—is not. Hearing declines (half of those older than seventy-five have disabling hearing loss), as does visual acuity (by age eighty, 70 percent of white Americans have

Observational Studies and Experimental Studies

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] Research studies can be divided into two types: observational studies and experimental studies. Observational studies simply observe the effect of a variable in a population. They can assess the strength of a relationship, for instance between dietary

Estudios observacionales y estudios experimentales

[This article is also available in English. Thanks to Pensar for the Spanish translation.] Los estudios de investigación médica se pueden dividir en dos tipos: observacionales y experimentales. Los estudios observacionales simplemente observan el efecto de una variable en una población. Pueden evaluar la fuerza de una relación, por ejemplo, entre factores dietéticos y enfermedades.

Living with Uncertainty

Uncertainty is uncomfortable. It is only natural to want certainty. It is more comfortable to be certain and wrong than to be uncertain. Like anyone else, I would like to be comfortable, but I think truth matters. I’d rather be uncertain than wrong; wouldn’t you?  As Voltaire said, “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty

Illness, Healing, and Other Terms That Can Be Confusing

Disease vs. Illness The words “disease” and “illness” are often used interchangeably, but their meanings are very different. Diseases are biomedical entities where there is impairment of the normal functioning of the body. Illness refers to the way a patient experiences a sickness. There can be disease without illness and illness without disease. Diseases may

¿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

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