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.
“Moneyball,” the 2012 election, and science- and evidence-based medicine (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/moneyball-the-2012-election-and-science-and-evidence-based-medicine/ Moneyball refers to the use of statistical techniques to pick players for a team rather than relying on the opinions of baseball experts. There are many parallels between evidence-based baseball, political polls, and evidence-based medicine. Data-driven approaches need not be in conflict with contextualized judgment, but they show that the opinions of experts often conflict with the evidence.
Fan Mail from an ASEA Supporter (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/fan-mail-from-an-asea-supporter/ A typical e-mail criticizing a post on Science-Based Medicine illustrates what we are up against and why ours is a Sisyphean struggle. The writer believes ASEA (containing only salt and water) is an effective medicine; she demonstrates numerous misconceptions, logical fallacies, appalling gullibility, and a surprising degree of illiteracy for a college graduate. She even manages to make 3(!) spelling errors at once when transcribing Dr. Hall’s first name.
Is There a Treatment for Tinnitus (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/is-there-a-treatment-for-tinnitus/ Tinnitus is a convenient target for CAM therapies because it is a subjective experience with no proven effective treatment. Distraction and cognitive therapy can help patients learn to ignore the sound. Tinnitus retraining therapy and tinnitus masking can be helpful but their effectiveness is modest. There is some preliminary evidence for certain pharmaceuticals, but no credible evidence for any CAM therapy.
CAM Docket: Functional Endocrinology (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/cam-docket-functional-endocrinology/ A Colorado chiropractor, Brandon Credeur, claims to be a “functional endocrinologist” able to reverse diabetes in as little as 3 weeks. He was investigated but got only a meaningless slap on the wrist; meanwhile, one of his pupils in Utah got 11 felony charges and a suspension of his license. Current policies vary by state, allowing chiropractors to profit from inappropriate treatments that harm patients.
Blonde Blood (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/blonde-blood/ Hydrogen peroxide is effective for some uses like bleaching hair, but the CAM practice of injecting it into veins has no medical value and is dangerous: it has even caused deaths. The rationale for this practice is faulty, and the claims that it benefits a wide variety of diseases are ludicrous.