Veterinary acupuncture – nothing more than pseudoscientific animal cruelty

veterinary acupuncture

When I write about junk medicine and pseudoscience, I generally stick to human medicine. Recently, I wrote about the asinine people who refuse canine vaccinations, which led me to search for other alternative veterinary medicine that mirrored those for humans. That’s when I ran into veterinary acupuncture.

I’ll explain the evidence in more detail later in this article, but it needs to be stated right up front – acupuncture is a pseudoscience unsupported by any real scientific evidence. Acupuncture is generally supported by anecdotes, which are not data, and terrible clinical studies that, at best, show acupuncture to be nothing more than a placebo.

Given the lack of evidence supporting the efficacy of veterinary acupuncture, there’s only one way to describe the insertion of needles into your pets – it’s animal cruelty. It’s animal torture. It is not veterinary medicine.

If you want to believe that acupuncture works because you buy into the pseudoscience, go for it. Pay the charlatans pushing this nonsense because you trust in your beliefs rather than in science. It’s your choice.

But subjecting your pets to this travesty, who have no choice? Back to what I said before, it’s animal cruelty. Why would you do that to your favorite pet?

Like I said, let’s look at the pseudoscience behind veterinary acupuncture. Then put it in context of animal cruelty. Continue reading “Veterinary acupuncture – nothing more than pseudoscientific animal cruelty”

Big supplement profits – making boatloads of money in the name of pseudoscience

big supplement

As a vaccine supporter, I get accused of being a shill for Big Pharma all the time. My basement is filled with gold bars shipped to me in remuneration for my services to the corporate hooligans – wait. No basement, no gold bars. On the other hand, Big Supplement, those companies who make money off of people who think that if they take this one vitamin to prevent all cancer, makes a a ton of money selling this junk medicine to unwary and unsophisticated consumers.

Let’s take a moment and look at the differences between Big Pharma and Big Supplement. The former has to work hard and provide evidence of what its drugs do, while the latter basically can sit around and throw darts at various claims, then randomly assign those claims to some new or old supplement.

 

Continue reading “Big supplement profits – making boatloads of money in the name of pseudoscience”

Swimming with pseudoscience – the cupping craze

cupping

I am not a fan of the Olympics. Generally, they are a huge waste of money, and most people across the world have little interest in most of the sports. I have barely noticed what’s going on this year in the Olympics in Brazil, until my news feeds were filled with the junk science craze of the month – cupping.

No, cupping doesn’t mean the protective equipment some male athletes use to protect their groinal (invented word, deal with it) regions. Although, for those athletes, that’s the most important cupping they will ever do.

Apparently, the cupping craze was first noticed because several members US Men’s swim team had these awful looking welts all over their bodies. Michael Phelps, probably the greatest Olympian ever with over 20 gold medals, was sporting several of the cupping welts on his shoulder.

If this feathery reptile has anything to say about medical crazes, cupping has just moved to the top of the list. Let’s look at it, but spoiler alert – see homeopathy.

Continue reading “Swimming with pseudoscience – the cupping craze”

Antidepressants cause autism – another red flag

Antidepressants cause autism

The headlines are screaming again, ANTIDEPRESSANTS CAUSE AUTISM !!!!!!!!!!!!! (approximate average number of exclamation marks per article). Of course, a critical analysis of the the underlying study that caused the headlines is more nuanced and may not say what you think it says.

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders by the American Psychiatric Association, which is described in detail in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 redefined autism spectrum disorder to encompass diagnoses of autismAsperger syndromepervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder. Generally, symptoms of these disorders include social deficits and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues, and in some cases, cognitive delays.

The scientific consensus for the causes of autism has centered on genetic factors, generally several genes. This hasn’t stopped a whole host of claims as to what causes autism. Emily Willingham wrote an article a few years ago with the title, This just in: Being alive linked to autism, in which she lists 30 recent claims of what causes autism. It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad.

Of course, we cannot overlook the old canard that vaccines cause autism. Which is about as untrue as a claim can be in science.

So what about this new claim about antidepressants and autism spectrum disorder? It’s based on a study just published in JAMA Pediatrics, a relatively high impact factor (approximately 7.148) and selective peer-reviewed journal.

The results from the may be significant, but possibly a critical analysis of the article will give us a different perspective. Continue reading “Antidepressants cause autism – another red flag”

Using acupuncture to treat knee pain–no evidence

hellraiser-acupunctureLet’s start right from the beginning–there is no evidence that acupuncture has any significant clinical benefit for any condition. And because there is a small, but significant, risk associated with the acupuncture, the risk to benefit ratio is huge (if not infinity, since there is no benefit). There is simply no reason to accept, even a small risk, if there is no benefit to a procedure.

Just in case you don’t accept my words about acupuncture, Steven Novella, MD, of the Science Based Medicine blog, clarifies why acupuncture does not work:

Clinical research can never prove that an intervention has an effect size of zero. Rather, clinical research assumes the null hypothesis, that the treatment does not work, and the burden of proof lies with demonstrating adequate evidence to reject the null hypothesis. So, when being technical, researchers will conclude that a negative study “fails to reject the null hypothesis.”

Further, negative studies do not demonstrate an effect size of zero, but rather that any possible effect is likely to be smaller than the power of existing research to detect. The greater the number and power of such studies, however, the closer this remaining possible effect size gets to zero. At some point the remaining possible effect becomes clinically insignificant.

In other words, clinical research may not be able to detect the difference between zero effect and a tiny effect, but at some point it becomes irrelevant. Continue reading “Using acupuncture to treat knee pain–no evidence”

No more “debates” about GMO safety–thanks to trillions of data points

GMO-protestAs I’ve written a few hundred times before, there’s really no such thing as a “debate” in science, at least in the sense that two sides argue in front of the public, and then there is vote on who is “right” or “wrong.” All that matters in science is the quantity and quality of evidence, that’s it. Yes, sometimes scientists do argue about evidence, but that’s usually done in peer reviewed articles, notes, and other forms of communication. It is mostly civil. And eventually, the evidence drives to a consensus.

Only to the public is there a delusion that there are debates on science. You might think there are debates about anthropogenic global warming, evolution, vaccines, HIV/AIDS, and GMO/biotechnology, but there really isn’t. Scientists aren’t sitting in bars across the world throwing bottles of beer at each other because everyone is divided between pro and anti-GMO. Because that’s just plainly not happening.

When I read that 97% of climate scientists support the fact of global warming or that 99.4% of natural scientists agree with the fact of evolution, it implies that there’s some sort of vote. But if there were, it would be, what we call in US elections, a landslide. But in reality, scientists come to a consensus about broad principles over time, and that is based on published evidence, not logical fallacies or bad data.

Continue reading “No more “debates” about GMO safety–thanks to trillions of data points”

GMO foods cause cancer–pseudoscience says it’s so

Let’s make something clear right here, at the beginning of the article–there is a vast amount of legitimate scientific literature that describes evidence that GMO crops are safe to both human health and the environment.

In the world of scientific research, the absolute highest quality evidence are meta reviews, which are methods to contrast and combine results from a wide swath of peer-reviewed studies which may be useful in identifying patterns, sources of disagreement and other relationships. Since meta reviews combine the results from a larger number of studies, they can be more statistically significant.

Last year, a team of Italian researchers published one such meta review of GMO studies in a peer-reviewed, high impact factor journal, Critical Review of Biotechnology (pdf). The authors collected and evaluated 1,783 research papers, reviews, relevant opinions, and reports published between 2002 and 2012, a comprehensive process that took over 12 months to complete. The review covered all aspects of GM crop safety, from how the crops interact with the environment to how they could potentially affect the humans and animals who consume them. Their conclusion, even in science-speak, could not be clearer:

The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops.

cancer-gmo-flakes-kellogs

The EU, which has shown some resistance to GMO crops, has spent over €300 million on GMO research over the last 20 years. Their 2010 report on GMO, which summarized the previous decade of research (pdf), concluded that:

It follows up previous publications on EU-funded research on GMO safety. Over the last 25 years, more than 500 independent research groups have been involved in such research.

According to the projects’ results, there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.

Remember, scientific consensus is not based on debate or arguing. Yes, the lone voice pushing new ideas or fighting a dogma should be given a pulpit to share their evidence. And that’s the key point, evidence matters, dramatic beliefs do not. If someone is going to state that GMO’s are unsafe, then they need to bring evidence, published in real journals, that carry the same weight as the thousands of articles that say “GMO’s are safe.” Just like the climate change deniers, who claim there’s a scientific debate, but have never brought the quality and quantity of evidence of the climate change supporters, the anti-GMO crowd uses the same exact tactics–screaming and yelling about the dangers of GMOs using very bad science.

And right now, the scientific consensus regarding GMO’s is solid–they are safe.

Continue reading “GMO foods cause cancer–pseudoscience says it’s so”

Treating depression with acupuncture-evidence is lacking

hellraiser-pinheadLet’s start out with a basic point–acupuncture does not work. For anything in medicine. And because there is a small, but significant, risk associated with the “procedure,” the risk to benefit ratio is huge (if not infinity, since there is no benefit). 

Just in case you don’t believe me, Steven Novella, MD, of the Science Based Medicine blog, clarifies why acupuncture does not work:

Clinical research can never prove that an intervention has an effect size of zero. Rather, clinical research assumes the null hypothesis, that the treatment does not work, and the burden of proof lies with demonstrating adequate evidence to reject the null hypothesis. So, when being technical, researchers will conclude that a negative study “fails to reject the null hypothesis.”

Further, negative studies do not demonstrate an effect size of zero, but rather that any possible effect is likely to be smaller than the power of existing research to detect. The greater the number and power of such studies, however, the closer this remaining possible effect size gets to zero. At some point the remaining possible effect becomes clinically insignificant.

In other words, clinical research may not be able to detect the difference between zero effect and a tiny effect, but at some point it becomes irrelevant. Continue reading “Treating depression with acupuncture-evidence is lacking”

Checking for pseudoscience in real science news (updated)

One of the larger problems of the internet (OK, there are a lot) is how science is discussed out in the world.  Google any science topic, and you’ll get thousand or millions of hits on any idea in science or medicine. The information is derived from other websites, news reports, rumors, or, to be cynical, from outright fabrication. In the fields of science and medicine, critical thinking is absolutely necessary to understanding it. Because it’s hard work, pseudoscience and anti-science have become quite prevalent lately.   Continue reading “Checking for pseudoscience in real science news (updated)”