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.
Antivaccine versus anti-GMO: Different goals, same methods (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/antivaccine-versus-anti-gmo-different-goals-same-methods/ Activists fighting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) use the same tactics as those fighting vaccines, from misinformation to bad science; and both groups fetishize the naturalistic fallacy. A recent study of GMOs and tumors in rats doesn’t mean what the activists think it means. It is about as bad as studies get, and it doesn’t constitute evidence for harm from GMOs in rats, much less in humans.
Mouse “avatars”: New predictors of response to chemotherapy? (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/mouse-avatars-new-predictors-of-response-to-chemotherapy/ Researchers are implanting pieces of patients’ tumors into mice so they can test the tumor’s response to various treatments. Companies are prematurely marketing the method to patients. Used in association with genomic testing, the method offers promise for individualized cancer treatment; but there are caveats and it is not ready for prime time.
Thumbthing Worth Reading (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/thumbthing-worth-reading/ Sam Kean’s new book The Violinist’s Thumb is a history and primer of genetics served up with entertaining stories about the participants and full of enticing trivia. The colorful cast of characters ranges from Gregor Mendel to a Russian who tried to inseminate women with chimp sperm and a couple who shared their house with 689 cats. Educational and fun. Thumbs up!
Patients Still Respect Evidence (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/patients-still-respect-evidence/ Patients in a recent survey ranked scientific evidence over the clinician’s experience or their own personal preferences. This underscores the need for providers to take time to explain the evidence to patients and shows why promoters of dubious treatment are so desperate for the trappings of scientific legitimacy.
Obamacare and CAM II: Discrimination (or not) against CAM (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/23031/ CAM proponents claim that section 2706 of Obamacare will end discrimination against CAM by insurance companies. Maybe, maybe not. The definition of “essential health benefits” and the precedents set by employment law may affect the interpretation of the new regulations. Different treatment is not necessarily discriminatory treatment.
I Never Meta Analysis I Really Like (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/i-never-meta-analysis-i-really-like/ Meta-analyses are unreliable. They compound the flaws of individual studies; and they fail to remove biases, throw out tooth fairy studies, or control for errors like the N-ray and Clever Hans phenomena.