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 rebranding of CAM as “harnessing the power of placebo” (David Gorski)

Evidence shows that the majority of CAM treatments work no better than placebo. Advocates likeTed Kaptchuk fall back on the excuse that placebos are effective. Placebos are widely misunderstood: they do not produce some kind of powerful mind-body healing. New research has improved our understanding.  


Acupuncture, the Navy, and Faulty Thinking (Harriet Hall)

A Navy neurologist adopted the practice of acupuncture for all the wrong reasons. His errors in thinking are enumerated as a bad example for others to learn from.  


Tonsillectomy Indications and Complications (Steven Novella)

A recent article by Seth Roberts questions the value of tonsillectomy and suggests non-evidence-based treatment by a naturopath might be a reasonable alternative. It illustrates the pitfalls of non-experts trying to understand the clinical literature and the effects of bias. Current guidelines for tonsillectomy were prepared by experts who are far more capable of critically evaluating the evidence for the risks and benefits.  


Legislative Alchemy: The New Year (Jann Bellamy)

An overview of proposed legislation in various states that would transform implausible and unproven health care practices into legal ones. Readers are encouraged to take action to combat such legislative alchemy.  


The New England Journal of Medicine Sinks a Bit Lower (Kimball Atwood)

An ad on the back cover of The New England Journal hypes a probiotic diet supplement, including the required disclaimer that it has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat any disease. The journal’s policy on advertising should be re-evaluated. This is one more black mark adding to a recent string of editorial failures that have diminished the credibility of this prestigious journal.