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 perils and pitfalls of “patient-driven” clinical research (David Gorski) Patients with serious diseases like cancer and ALS are often tempted to try untested treatments, and now they are claiming to be collaborating on “research.” They don’t understand that it is impossible to tell whether a drug works by analyzing a bunch of testimonials from a group of self-selected patients self-medicating with therapies in an unblinded fashion with no proper control group. 

Therapy or Injury? Your Tax Dollars at Work (Harriet Hall) The Army is hiring acupuncturists to do things they are not trained to do, like prescribing orthotics and things that bruise and burn the skin (moxibustion and cupping). The described duties (and acupuncture itself!) are incompatible with the stated job requirement to “offer the most current evidence based approaches.”  

Antifluoridation Bad Science (Steven Novella) Water fluoridation is backed by impressive evidence showing it is safe and effective, as well as highly cost effective. Anti-fluoridation activists continue to fight it and now are claiming that a new study has shown that fluoridation reduces IQs. It hasn’t.  

Brief Announcement Dr. Hall’s book Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon is now available in a Kindle edition that can also be read on computers and iPads.  

Book Reviews: “The Cure for Everything” and “Which comes first, cardio or weights?” (Scott Gavura) Good skeptics can have a blind spot when it comes to health and fitness. Many of the claims about exercise are not supported by any evidence. These books cut through the noise.  

The Mind in Cancer: Low Quality Evidence from a High-Impact Journal (James Coyne) The Journal of Clinical Oncology is not a reliable source for evidence about the relationship between cancer and the mind. Three flawed studies are critiqued as examples of their poor standards. They refused to publish a critique of one of these studies simply because the study’s authors refused to reply.