Friday, July 25, 2008

Is Britain Waking Up?

There has been a 40% drop in homeopathic prescriptions in the last two years by general practitioners in the U.K.

Perhaps the fact that British folks became so enamored with the stuff backfired on homeopaths. With large sample sizes, doctors may have been able to clearly see how useless the stuff actually is.

DS

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fantastic Article

For the vast amount of credulous people in the U.K., there seem to be some pretty intelligent ones with the ability to grab the public's attention. This one wrote an outstanding article on two recent black eyes in the British CAM field.

This warms my heart to see a major news outlet publish such a scathing piece. Coupled to Amanda Peet's outing as a thoughtful celebrity, I'm in one of those waxing moods about our society. Could it be that the tides are starting to turn a bit? Oh, I'm sure that momentum will go back and forth many times in my life, but it's moments like this that make it good to be a skeptic.

DS

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bad Study. Bad, Bad Study.

This study is what you call junk science. Upon seeing the title of this article I said to myself - "I bet this is a very small study, published in an obscure alternative medicine journal, measuring some subjective variable, and funded by a juice company". Well...

"Published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial claims to be the first study reported from outside China that has examined the general effects of consuming goji berry juice."

and...

"The current study was funded by Arizona-based FreeLife International, a goji berry juice supplier.  The study was also conducted by FreeLife employees."

and...

"A total of 35 people were recruited for the study.  All participants were healthy adults, and were randomly assigned to either a goji berry group or a placebo group."

and...

"Participants were given a questionnaire at the start and finish of the test period, where they were asked to give ratings (0-5) of general feelings of well-being, neurologic/psychologic traits, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular complaints as well as any adverse effects."

Pretty convincing, no? Here are the "results":

"According to the study authors, "significant differences" between day one and day 15 were found in the goji berry group."

Awsome!! Significant results?! That's almost unbelievable!!! But, how significant are we talking here?

"Around 50-60 percent of people in the goji group reported feelings of good health, contentment, and happiness."

Wow! 50% of the people feel good? Wait, how many people in the normal population would say they feel good?

Here's the clincher:

"The placebo group reported two statistically significant changes during the 14-day period - heartburn and feelings of happiness."

Actually, I'm not sure what this statement means. The control group had increased heartburn? Was that from not drinking goji juice, or was it from the crazy placebo juice they gave them? And I'm going to go ahead and assume they meant that the placebo group had decreased happiness. Is this study even ethical? Giving people heartburn and sadness seems kind of mean.

DS

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My New Favorite Celebrity

Could somebody please pinch me?

An interview in the magazine Cookie with actress Amanda Peet has momentarily paused my usual eye rolling in the direction of Hollywood. Critical thinking in Hollywood is no longer an oxymoron!

This mother of an 18 month old daughter took a long look at the issue of childhood vaccination, and - *gasp* - came to the only logical conclusion!

"I was shocked at the amount of misinformation floating around, particularly in Hollywood," says Peet"

Wonderful, now if we can only get her to speak to a certain booger eating blond? Not after this observant gem, eh?

"Frankly, I feel that parents who don't vaccinate their children are parasites."

I think I've found my new Hollywood crush. We finally have a legitimate movie star on the side of logic and reason. They should name an award after her. In fact, I'm going to name an award after her.

Beginning today I will give out the "Amanda Peet Award for Excellence in Logic In Spite of the Apparent Handicap of Celebrity".

Incidentally, the irony has not escaped me that she will be starring in the new movie version of the credulous TV classic 'X-Files'. If she could come down on aliens and psychics next, I'd be much obliged.

DS