Assorted Links

  • Salem Comes to the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Herbert Needleman is harassed by the lead industry, with the help of two psychology professors.
  • Climate scientists “perpetuating rubbish”.
  • A humorous article in the BMJ that describes evidence-based medicine (EBM) as a religion. “Despite repeated denials by the high priests of EBM that they have founded a new religion, our report provides irrefutable proof that EBM is, indeed, a full-blown religious movement.” The article points out one unquestionable benefit of EBM — that some believers “demand that [the drug] industry divulge all of its secret evidence, instead of publishing only the evidence that favours its products.” Of course, you need not believe in EBM to want that. One of the responses to the article makes two of the criticisms of EBM I make: 1. Where is the evidence that EBM helps? 2. EBM stifles innovation.
  • What really happened to Dominique Strauss-Kahn? Great journalism by Edward Jay Epstein.  This piece, like much of Epstein’s work, sheds a very harsh light on American mainstream media. They were made fools of by enemies of Strauss-Kahn. Epstein is a freelance journalist. He uncovered something enormously important that all major media outlets — NY Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, ABC, NBC, CBS (which includes 60 Minutes), the AP, not to mention French news organizations, all with great resources — missed.

Testing Treatments: Nine Questions For the Authors

From this comment (thanks, Elizabeth Molin) I learned of a British book called Testing Treatments (pdf), whose second edition has just come out. Its goal is to make readers more sophisticated consumers of medical research. To help them distinguish “good” science from “bad” science. Ben Goldacre, the Bad Science columnist, fulsomely praises it (“I genuinely, truly, cannot recommend this awesome book highly enough for its clarity, depth, and humanity”). He wrote a foreword. The main text is by Imogen Evans (medical journalist), Hazel Thornton (writer),  Iain Chalmers (medical researcher), and Paul Glaziou (medical researcher, editor of Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine).

To me, as I’ve said, medical research is almost entirely bad. Almost all medical researchers accept two remarkable rules: (a) first, let them get sick and (b) no cheap remedies. These rules severely limit what is studied. In terms of useful progress, the price of these limits has been enormous: near total enfeeblement. For many years the Nobel Prize in Medicine has documented the continuing failure of medical researchers all over the world to make significant progress on all major health problems, including depression, heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and so on. It is consistent with their level of understanding that some people associated with medicine would write a book about how to do something (good science) the whole field manifestly can’t do. Testing Treatments isn’t just a fat person writing a book about how to lose weight, it’s the author failing to notice he’s fat. Continue readingTesting Treatments: Nine Questions For the Authors”