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Huffington Post and quote mining–one more reason to ignore them

The Huffington Post published an article recently entitled, Science and religion quotes: what the world’s greatest scientists say about God.  I rarely read HuffPo, despite my having a similar political point-of-view, because of what I perceive to be a high number of anti-science articles.  In this case, HuffPo tries to show how some of the great scientists were actually deeply spiritual if not religious.  Using quotes as evidence for a history or biography of an individual is pathetic and disingenuous, especially if taken out of context.  It would be as if we tried to describe Los Angeles based on a snapshot of one house in San Pedro.Read More »Huffington Post and quote mining–one more reason to ignore them

LeRoy neurological illness mystery–junk science–update

(Updated to add more information about the anti-vaccination lunatics weighing in.)

When I write postings here, I never search google for information or sources, I always go to trusted locations for my information.  For example, if I read a news article on some interesting subject, I check with the original source, usually at PubMed, for medical articles, and the original abstract (at least) for other science articles.  I click on nearly every outlink in postings that I read, to confirm whether the information presented is accurate.  A google search is practically useless, especially for medical articles, because the amount of cruft and junk science makes it a challenge to sort.Read More »LeRoy neurological illness mystery–junk science–update

Mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers

Nosocomial infections, or hospital acquired infections, are a significant issue in hospital environments and has become a serious public health issue. These infections include everything from drug resistant bacteria to several viruses, including the flu.  They have serious repercussions in a hospital environment–everything from employee absenteeism to higher mortality rates of patients.  For example, influenza, which has a reputation of being innocuous, can be dangerous to infants, the elderly and immune compromised patients.  Further, a flu outbreak can leave a hospital short-staffed with sick nurses, techs and physicians, making it more difficult to deal with the outbreak itself.Read More »Mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers

The Placebo Myth from Science Based Medicine

While doing some research on the placebo non-effect, I found this article, The Placebo Myth, by Mark Crislip (an infectious disease specialist), in the Science Based Medicine blog.  He makes a simple and effective question which debunks the “placebo effect”:  “why would actively doing nothing have any measurable physiologic effect? It shouldn’t and it doesn’t. Mind over matter? Bah, humbug.”  He continues, “I think that the placebo effect with pain is a mild example of cognitive behavioral therapy; the pain stays the same, it is the emotional response that is altered.”  So, it’s talking therapy (albeit not very focused), not a sugar pill that works.Read More »The Placebo Myth from Science Based Medicine

The Discovery Institute opposes Indiana’s Creationist Bill

Kids love the theory of intelligent design.

The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that focuses on Intelligent Design, has issued a press release that “condemns passage of creationism bill by Indiana Senate as bad science and bad education.”  The irony is so thick that it’s displacing oxygen in the atmosphere, since Intelligent Design is simply a flavor of creationism that purports to be a scientific theory that proposes that evolution is controlled or directed by an intelligent designer.  They state, in the release that:

“Instead of injecting religion into biology classes, legislators should be working to promote the inclusion of more science,” said Joshua Youngkin, a law and policy analyst at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “There are plenty of scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory today, and science students should be able to hear about them, not about religion.”Read More »The Discovery Institute opposes Indiana’s Creationist Bill

Quoting intelligent design advocates–rampant cynicism

I had saved a website long ago that listed a bunch of quotes where Intelligent Design (ID) proponents deny any hidden creationist agendas, but rather claim they are only trying to promote good solid science in our public schools. Unfortunately, the blog is no longer online, so I couldn’t find it to link here, but you can read the saved pdf file and I can give full credit to Brian Poindexter.

Although it’s about 9 years old, I thought I would repost it to clear up any possible confusion about whether ID is really science or, as is clearly stated by ID proponents, it’s a cynical method to get creationism into US public schools.Read More »Quoting intelligent design advocates–rampant cynicism

How the placebo effect proves nothing and means nothing

Recently, there has been a large uptick in interest about the so-called placebo effect, mostly from the complementary and alternative junk medicine (CAM) crowd.  Evidently, they feel that being equivalent to doing nothing is good enough to be real.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Why Placebos Work Wonders, is indicative of this recent pro-placebo point-of-view.  I’ve got other bones to pick with WSJ on global warming, but I’ll save that for another day.

What exactly is the placebo effect?  The definition is often misused, implying some beneficial effect from a sugar pill or sham treatment.  But in medicine, a placebo is actually a failure.  If a new pharmaceutical, procedure or medical device shows no difference in efficacy compared to a placebo, then it is rejected.  But the CAM-pushing herd thinks that proves its a success when one of its potions and lotions is equivalent to a placebo.  What?  A failure of a modality in evidence-based medicine is somehow converted into a successful product in the CAM world?Read More »How the placebo effect proves nothing and means nothing

Indiana creationism bill passes Senate–Intelligent Democrats creatively amend it

This is part of a long multi-part series on the Republican state legislatures in the USA pushing religious teaching into public schools in clear violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause. I’ve discussed Indiana here, here and here, so this is a small update with a bit of intelligent design (of the bill) by some Democrats. Indiana Democrats are a feisty group, and the science deniers must be annoyed by them.Read More »Indiana creationism bill passes Senate–Intelligent Democrats creatively amend it

Worldwide progress in measles control–vaccines get credit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, commonly known as the CDC, this week published Progress in Global Measles Control, 2001-2010.  In 1980, there were over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the measles virus.  Though measles is considered by many people as innocuous, it is, in fact, a relatively dangerous infection with a variable prognosis.  For vast majority of sufferers, there are few complications, but for some, even healthy individuals, it can be debilitating or even fatal.  Notwithstanding, I have always wondered why the anti-vaccination gang is willing to risk the possible death of their children by refusing to inoculate them, in light of very few risks or side effects of the vaccination itself.  I digress.

From the Vaccination Action Coalition.

[pullquote]The number of measles cases dropped to around 340,000 in 2010, a nearly 66% decline from 2001.[/pullquote]Read More »Worldwide progress in measles control–vaccines get credit