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.

Blatant pro-alternative medicine propaganda in The Atlantic (David Gorski) In “The Triumph of New Age Medicine” in The Atlantic, David Freedman argues that we should embrace medical pseudoscience. Although much of alternative medicine is quackery, it’s making patients better because of placebo effects and because its practitioners take the time to talk to patients and doctors do not. Dr. Gorski explains what is wrong with Freedman’s arguments.


Acupuncturist’s Unconvincing Attempt at Damage Control (Harriet Hall) A recent systematic review found little convincing evidence that acupuncture is truly effective for relieving pain, and it compiled published accounts of 95 serious complications including deaths. An acupuncturist has responded with a poorly reasoned, unconvincing critique of the study. His main complaint is that the study didn’t examine iatrogenic deaths from conventional medicine!

Kudos to Steven Novella (Harriet Hall) A congratulatory announcement: Steven Novella has been awarded the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

We get mail (Peter Lipson) A rebuttal to a previous article is examined as an instance of the thoughtful but incorrect reasoning of someone who has just enough knowledge to think he understands the topic at hand. Dr. Lipson dissects the commenter’s false facts and fallacies.

Et tu, Biomarkers? (Scott Gavura) A recent paper by Ioannidis looks at the literature on biomarkers, indicators like blood tests that can measure aspects of health. Initial reports of the usefulness of new biomarkers are often disconfirmed by subsequent studies: highly cited studies significantly overestimate the findings seen in later meta-analyses. Caution is indicated.

“CAM” Education in Medical Schools – A Critical Opportunity Missed (Kimball Atwood) A link to Dr. Atwood’s article published in an online ethics journal. Most CAM courses in U.S. medical schools are uncritical and promotional. They squander an ideal opportunity to discuss scientific skepticism, other critical thinking skills, accurate information, the history of medicine, medical practice ethics, human studies ethics, and linguistic integrity—all of which are basic to professionalism and excellence in modern medicine.