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-woo in medicine.

Eric Merola’s conspiracy-mongering and more of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s cancer “success” stories (David Gorski) Details reveal the fundamental intellectual dishonesty behind the conspiracy mongering of Eric Merola, the director of the two Burzynski movies. He even accused Dr. Gorski of eating puppies! And two more cases being used to “prove” that Burzynski can cure cancer actually prove nothing of the sort.  

Doves, Diplomats, and Diabetes (Harriet Hall) A new book applies evolutionary principles to the study of diabetes, marshals a mountain of evidence, and proposes a new paradigm that appears to resolve existing paradoxes and better explain the disease. Whether his conclusions are correct or not, the author’s methods epitomize the attitudes of a true scientist. He acknowledges that he could have fallen into a thinking trap and asks readers to critique his arguments.  

Does Brain Training Work? (Steven Novella) Computer-based brain training programs are effective, but only for the specific tasks being trained. Effects are short-lived and don’t generalize to other tasks or cognitive functions. The very concept of “brain-training” is probably flawed: the process would be better described as “learning.”  

The Quack Full Employment Act (Jann Bellamy) A Colorado bill would allow anyone without training to set up shop and practice complementary and alternative “health care and healing arts therapies and methods.” It would legalize quackery, and it strips away important consumer protections.  

Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Flu (Mark Crislip) Influenza is a tricky virus, difficult to treat and prevent, and a consistent cause of infectious morbidity and mortality. The 1918 pandemic was devastating, and the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” killed between 151,700 and 575,400 people worldwide. The new bird flu, H7N9, doesn’t appear to have pandemic potential, but another deadly strain could appear at any time.