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.



The “decline effect”: Is it a real decline or just science correcting itself? (David Gorski) When initial research shows positive effects, subsequent studies often show lesser effects or even none at all. This “decline effect” has been used to shed doubt on science’s ability to find the truth, but it really shows the strength of science as a cumulative, self-correcting enterprise.

Integrative Medicine is the Butt of a Sokal-Type Hoax (Harriet Hall) A British doctor made up a system of reflexology and acupuncture based on a map of the buttocks and submitted a proposal for a paper to an Integrative Medicine conference; his hilarious parody was accepted as a legitimate paper. Integrative medicine’s failure to detect an obvious hoax is not an encouraging sign.

Acupuncture and the Hazard of Nonsense (Steven Novella) A study that supposedly showed acupuncture superior to eye-patching for the treatment of amblyopia illustrates the hazards of studying highly implausible modalities. Acupuncture is ultimately a shell game of preliminary unreliable results and misinterpreted non-specific/placebo effects.

CAM and the Law Part 4: Regulation of Supplements and Homeopathic Remedies (Brennen McKenzie) For products classified as diet supplements and homeopathic remedies, the law places no burden of proof on manufacturers to demonstrate the safety or efficacy of their products. Such facts are not persuasive in the legal arena, where politics outweigh science.

California Forbids Chinese Bloodletting (Ben Kavoussi) If you thought medieval bloodletting was a thing of the past, you’re mistaken. Regulators in California recently banned bloodletting by acupuncturists when they learned that sterile precautions were not being used. The bloodletting process is described and illustrated with disturbing pictures.

Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits (Mark Crislip) The homeopathic cold and flu remedy Oscillococcinum is popular but laughable: it’s even sillier than other homeopathic remedies. Flu vaccines work, but a Cochrane review put a misleading slant on the evidence. Vaccine critics claim that H1N1 was “no big deal” but Dr. Crislip saw 10 young people die of it last year after 25 years of never seeing a young person die of acute influenza.

For Good Reason (David Gorski) Dr. Gorski was interviewed by D. J. Grothe on the podcast For Good Reason.