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.


Chemotherapy versus death from cancer (David Gorski) Chemotherapy is often reviled because its side effects can be horrible; but dying from untreated cancer can be even more horrible. Chemotherapy is not to be used lightly, but it can save lives; alternative cancer treatments can't.

Nine Breakthroughs and a Breakdown (Harriet Hall) The book Breakthrough! lists "the rediscovery of alternative medicine" as one of the "10 greatest discoveries in medicine that saved millions." In fact, alternative medicine has saved no one and represents a "breakdown" of the scientific thinking that led to the other 9 greatest discoveries.

Brain-Training Products Useless in Study (Steven Novella) Video game playing and products specifically designed to train the brain have produced measurable improvements in cognitive function, but only in the specific tasks practiced. The improvement doesn't extend to cognitive function in general.

Demonizing "Big Pharma" (Steven Novella) A recent article unfairly accuses "Big Pharma" of inventing diseases just to make money. It amounts to anti-science conspiracy mongering that distracts from the real issues and valid criticisms.

NDE Update (Mark Crislip) Near death experiences (NDEs) probably represent the last flurry of electrical activity by the brain, and similar experiences can be induced by drugs. Recent studies have shed some light on possible mechanisms.