Time to retire this website theme, onwards to a fresh new layout... PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREFAdmin   
Thursday, 18 September 2014 19:54

Watch for a new randi.org design launching this weekend. We'll have daily content and features as well as information about the Million Dollar Challenge and how you can support the JREF and its goals. 

Hopefully, existing hyperlinks all over the web will still continue to work to link to the previous locations and content. Expect a few glitches, of course.

If you find a problem, send details to JREF@randi.org and we'll take a look. 

Thanks for your patience. Off we go...

Last Week on Science Based Medicine for 15 September 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   
Sunday, 14 September 2014 18:33

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.

One more time: No, wearing a bra does not cause cancer (David Gorski)  The idea that bras cause cancer is a myth that refuses to die. Bras do not impair lymph drainage or interfere with the removal of “toxins.” A new study confirms what other studies have shown: no correlation of bra-wearing with cancer.

The Reality of Ancient Wisdom: Acupuncture and TCM Weren’t So Great (Harriet Hall)  An old book by a missionary doctor in China describes what traditional Chinese medicine was really like in 1883-1913. It was prescientific, superstitious, ineffective, and sometimes barbaric. Acupuncture bore little resemblance to today’s practices, and serious complications were common. These revelations serve as a reality check: acupuncture and TCM are evidence of ancient ignorance, not ancient wisdom.

Autism Prevalence Unchanged in 20 Years (Steven Novella)  There is no autism epidemic. The number of diagnoses has increased, but the evidence strongly suggests this is due to better diagnosis, changing definitions, and greater acceptance. A new study looked at autism prevalence around the world; it showed no change from 1990 to 2010.

Side effects may include liver failure (Scott Gavura)  Dietary supplements are popular and widely believed to be safe. But there have been many cases of supplements causing liver failure leading to death or liver transplant; and harms are likely under-reported. Contamination of supplement products and lack of routine monitoring are worrisome. 

Legislating Ignorance (John Snyder)   A Florida law prohibits doctors from asking patients about guns in the home. This is unwarranted legislative interference with the practice of good preventive medicine by pediatricians who feel ethically obligated to counsel parents about gun safety along with other accident prevention issues. There is good evidence that counseling has a positive impact on safe storage of guns in the home. Legislation has also interfered with science by regulating the funding of gun control studies.

Last Week on Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   
Monday, 08 September 2014 11:42

 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.

The “CDC whistleblower saga”: Updates, backlash, and (I hope) a wrap-up (David Gorski)  Whistleblower William Thompson alleged CDC malfeasance in withholding data from a vaccine study. The CDC has now issued a statement, and Hooker’s paper re-analyzing the data has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. Anti-vaccine activists are leaking documents and issuing threats, and much remains to be explained; but the CDC conspiracy theory is implausible and not supported by the evidence.

The Unpersuadables (Harriet Hall)   A new book by Will Storr investigates why some people irrationally reject information showing their beliefs are false. Our brains systematically deceive us with illusions and errors in thinking; we create models of reality and try to explain away anything that doesn’t match. We are inherently fonder of stories than of science. Being unpersuadable is an evolved human characteristic; we must learn to overcome the limitations of our prehistoric brains.

CAM and Headaches (Steven Novella)   A recent editorial about the treatment of headaches propagates many misconceptions about CAM. It exaggerates CAM’s popularity, blurs the line between CAM and scientific medicine by including things like exercise, pretends that “Western” medicine is just an arbitrary historical choice, and tries to justify CAM modalities that have been disproven. 

Chiropractic “pediatrics” firmly in the anti-vaccination camp (Jann Bellamy)   Anti-vaccine speakers have been invited to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s upcoming conference. The chiropractic position on vaccines ranges from virulently anti-vaccination to tepid support from a minority. It is scary to think they are promoting themselves as primary care physicians and pediatricians.

Ebola SCAMS (Mark Crislip)   Some homeopaths are telling people how to make their own Ebola remedy at home, starting with body fluids from an infected person. Others offer an MP3 file of homeopathic remedy energy. Nano silver is another alleged remedy. This kind of lunacy capitalizes on fears of Ebola and could lead to fatal consequences. 

Message from Randi: Looking ahead PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by James Randi   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 14:21

Hello everyone, Randi here.

As you now know, there are major changes taking place at the JREF.

We've been successful in our mission as an educational resource, but for some time we have felt that we could be doing more to make a difference, especially with regards to cultivating a new generation of critical thinkers. So, our prime focus for the future will be to build our educational content, and to develop more and greater opportunities to promote critical thinking in the classroom.

I also want to reassure you that, never fear, the Million Dollar Challenge lives on!

And, in exciting news, we are beginning to plan TAM 2015 -- our 13th! JREF Fellow and long-time volunteer Ray Hall has agreed to be the Program Chair for the next summer's meeting. Ray says to expect a full agenda of scientific skepticism, critical thinking, Sunday Papers, informative and inspirational talks, new insights, the warmth and family of the TAM community, and all the usual magic that is The Amazing Meeting.

Last Week on Science Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 13:54

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.

Did a high ranking whistleblower really reveal that the CDC covered up proof that vaccines cause autism in African-American boys? (David Gorski)
Anti-vaccine sources erupted over reports that a whistleblower had confessed to fraud in the CDC, saying that when he and his co-authors published a study 10 years ago, they covered up a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in a subgroup of African-American boys. Anti-vaccine activist Brian Hooker published a flawed, questionable re-analysis of the data. We don’t yet know the whole story, but this appears to be just an ideological tempest in a teacup; and it does nothing to change the scientific consensus on vaccines.

Diet Cults vs. Science-Based Healthy Eating (Harriet Hall)  
In his book Diet Cults, Matt Fitzgerald argues that science has established quite definitively that there is no one healthiest diet: humans evolved to adapt and thrive on a variety of diets. He debunks the Paleo and other popular diets and shows that their advocates are swayed by emotional and moral influences. He proposes an informal diet guide consisting of a hierarchy of healthier-to-less healthy foods that is flexible, accommodates individual preferences, and that most nutrition experts would endorse based on the best available evidence we have at this point.

Bad Science Journals (Steven Novella)  Open-access online journals charge the author to publish. Some of them are fraudulent, falsely representing themselves as peer-reviewed and trading on the reputation of journals formerly published in print. Half of the dubious journals accepted a bogus nonsense article for publication.

Naturopathy vs. Science: Facts Edition (Scott Gavura)  A comparison of naturopathy websites and Wikipedia entries on subjects like homeopathy, adrenal fatigue, candidiasis, and black cohosh is illuminating. Naturopaths claim to base their practice on scientific principles; but it is obvious that they endorse many non-science-based diagnoses and treatments and are often openly antagonistic to science, even saying the scientific method is not applicable to what they do.

A Touch to Fear: Chiropractic and the Newborn Baby (Clay Jones)
Some chiropractors treat newborns and consider themselves qualified to act as pediatric primary care providers. A chiropractor described what he did when called by a midwife to treat a fussy baby right after a home birth. His incompetence was obvious, and the outcome could well have been disastrous. Chiropractors do not have the training to evaluate newborns; chiropractic “adjustments” of newborns are never indicated and could be dangerous.  

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