Steven Novella, MD, is an assistant professor of neurology at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the host of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, author of the NeuroLogica blog, executive editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog, and president of The New England Skeptical Society.
Gullible Reporting about ESP on CBS
I have come to understand that scientific skepticism is a weird beast that is often difficult to understand, especially from the outside.
In the pages of the Skeptical Inquirer and elsewhere in the skeptical literature, you can read about a seemingly endless array of snake oil remedies, dubious health claims, questionable practices, ineffective regulation, and shortcomings of mainstream medicine.
Like many public controversies, the debate can be better informed by scientific evidence; however, there is no legitimate scientific controversy over the safety of GMOs.
Fear is a powerful emotion with clear protective functions. However, fear is not always adaptive.
Herbal supplements are big business. The industry has managed to maintain a “mom and pop” image to the public, the righteous underdog constantly under attack by Big Pharma. In reality, the herbal product industry is just another drug industry, one selling products that are poorly regulated and likely don’t work for their claimed indications.
Science Journalist Leon Jaroff, Eighty-Five
A Powerful and Thoughtful Voice for Skepticism and Humanism
The “mystery illness” has become a Rorschach test of sorts: people see in the illness a diagnosis that fits their worldview or pet cause. But now that the dust has settled somewhat on this outbreak, what can we reliably say about it?
The group Friends of Science in Medicine has recently formed in Australia, and they now have over 400 professional members. They felt the need to come together over a disturbing trend—the infiltration of rank pseudoscience into once respected universities.
To patients suffering from an incurable disease a new idea represents one thing: hope. Science, by contrast, cares only about what works and is dispassionate, which is easily portrayed as heartlessness. Hopeful nonsense thus has a public relations advantage over pitiless science every time.
If you believe the hype, then you want them in your food; you want to take them as pills; and you want the maximum most powerful antioxidants that can be found in nature. Unfortunately, the evidence does not support the claim that there are any health benefits to taking antioxidants.
Stem cells have tremendous potential, and they will likely be playing an increasing role in medical therapies over the next twenty years. But reality has yet to catch up with the hype.
We must first define what acupuncture actually is before we can ask whether acupuncture works. This is not as easy as it might seem.
While the practice is indistinguishable from ritual and witchcraft, the modern homeopath would like to cloak himself in the respectability of science.
The notion that magnets can be used for healing has existed since humans discovered them.
Understanding placebo effects is critical to making sense of medical research and ever-expanding health claims within an increasingly unregulated market.
Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who in 1998 sparked the public controversy over whether the MMR vaccine is linked to autism...
Despite the growing consensus that neither vaccines nor mercury cause autism, a stubborn vocal minority claims otherwise.
Scientific skepticism defines skepticism around the principles of scientific investigation.
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