Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.

Acupuncture and history: The “ancient” therapy that’s been around for several decades  (David Ramey) The proponents of acupuncture claim that it’s been around for 4000 years, as if that would somehow prove its effectiveness (the “ancient wisdom” fallacy). Careful historical research into the original Chinese source material has shown that acupuncture isn’t ancient and it isn’t even particularly Chinese.

Joe Mercola and Barbara Loe Fisher declare November 1-6, 2010 “Vaccine Awareness Week”? Not so fast!  (David Gorski) Anti-vaccine activists have proclaimed a “Vaccine Awareness Week” to spread their misinformation. Dr. Gorski calls for all science-based medical and skeptical bloggers to counter with their own Vaccine Awareness Week to refute the misinformation and emphasize the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement.

High Dose Flu Vaccine for the Elderly (Harriet Hall)  The antibody response to the flu vaccine is significantly lower in the elderly. A new high-dose vaccine for those 65 and over has been shown to increase antibody levels compared to the regular vaccine. Studies are in progress to determine whether this will translate into a significant clinical benefit.

Pharmaceutical Company Contact and Prescribing (Steven Novella) There is a trend towards restricting the access of drug company representatives to physicians. This is prudent, but we need better research data on the impact of pharmaceutical marketing on medical care. Available data are mixed and insufficient, and getting information via drug company representatives may not be all bad.

The 2010 Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium (David Gorski)  Videos are available online of the recent symposium on “Confronting Pseudoscience: A Call to Action,” featuring David Gorski, Michael Shermer, Ben Goldacre, “Dr. Joe” Schwarcz, and James Randi.

Heart disease: one of science-based medicine’s great successes (Peter Lipson) There has been a dramatic decline in heart disease mortality in the last 60 years. Science has contributed to both prevention and treatment. Alternative medicine has contributed nothing and has spread misinformation.

Influenza Vaccine Mandates (Mark Crislip)  At most health care institutions, flu vaccine is not mandated and compliance is low. Annual influenza vaccination should be a condition of both initial and continued employment for health care providers because the vaccine is safe and effective, health care providers have an ethical and professional imperative to prevent the spread of infection to their patients, and there is clear evidence that vaccinating providers improves the outcome for their patients.