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.
Animal rights activism: Petitions aren’t science (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/animal-rights-activism-petitions-arent-science/ British Parliamentary EDM 263 calls for properly moderated public scientific debates about the human cost of misleading results from animal experiments. Dr. Gorski was puzzled to find his name included on the list of targeted UK scientists. The organization responsible, For Life on Earth, claims that animal research provides no knowledge or benefit. Their arguments are easily refuted, but a public debate is not the place to do that.
Food for Thought (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/food-for-thought/ An outstanding free online course is being offered by 3 professors from McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. It covers facts and myths about food and nutrition and educates students about the scientific method and how to evaluate the published research with a critical eye. Over 20,000 people in 150 countries have already registered. Highly recommended.
Treating Pain Psychologically (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/treating-pain-psychologically/ Pain is the area most susceptible to alternative medicine’s exploitation of non-specific effects to promote a useless ritual, blurring the line between cause and effect. A preliminary study of meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain showed encouraging results. Research on the psychological aspects of pain treatment belongs in the realm of science, not that of magical thinking and prescientific rituals.
Twenty days in primary care practice, or “naturopathic residency” (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/twenty-days-in-primary-care-practice-or-naturopathic-residency/ A senate bill in Hawaii would require naturopaths seeking prescription privileges to fulfill the same education, examination, and training requirements as physicians. Reviewing the naturopathic curriculum shows how deficient their education is compared to that of physicians. Their total clinical education is equivalent to 20 days in a family practitioner’s office, and bears no resemblance to the residency requirements for MDs.
I Visited a Chickasaw Healer and All I Got Was an Elk Sinew and Buffalo Horn Bracelet. (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/an-ape-gets-groomed-and-is-the-better-for-it/ An article about alternative medicine in The Atlantic contains a world record amount of fertilizer. The suggestible author gullibly accepts claims about an alleged “human energy field” and favorably recounts his experiences with energy healers and shamans. He thinks these nonsensical treatments are rooted in a mystical non-traditional biological mechanism, whereas they really amount to a version of the same social grooming that other primates do (and monkeys don’t charge 50 bucks).