Results for: non-specific effects

EMDR and Acupuncture – Selling Non-specific Effects

The scientific approach to understanding the world includes the process of carefully separating out variables and effects. Experiments, in fact, are designed specifically to control for variables. This can be especially challenging in medicine, since the body is a complex and variable system and there are always numerous factors at play. We often characterize the many variables that can influence the outcome...

/ March 30, 2011

Homeopathy and the Selling of Nonspecific Effects

One of the core features of science (and therefore science-based medicine) is to precisely identify and control for variables, so that we know what, exactly, is exerting an effect. The classic example of this principle at work is the Hawthorne effect. The term refers to a series of studies performed between 1924 and 1932 at the Hawthorne Works. The studies examined whether...

/ November 17, 2010
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Placebo Effects Revisited

In the Wall Street Journal last week was a particularly bad article by Melinda Beck about acupuncture. While there was token skepticism (by Edzard Ernst, of course, who is the media’s go-to expert for CAM), the article credulously reported the marketing hype of acupuncture proponents. Toward the end of the article Beck admits that “some critics” claim that acupuncture provides nothing more...

/ March 24, 2010
Yoga

Can mind-body practices “reprogram” our DNA?

A recent systematic review has been touted as demonstrating that "mind-body" practices like yoga can reprogram our DNA. There are several reasons to doubt these claims, not the least of which is the history of bias in past studies on this topic.

/ June 26, 2017
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Can the mind really heal the body? The false narrative of placebo “healing” revisited

Placebo effects are inextricably bound to the question of whether the alternative medicine modalities that are being “integrated” into medicine actually have any useful therapeutic effects or not; i.e., whether they are merely placebos. Here, I examine an article in National Geographic that peddles the false narrative that placebo effects have real "healing" powers against diseases like Parkinson's disease.

/ December 12, 2016

Influenza Eye Roll

I don’t know the best metaphor. What comes around goes around. The more things change, the more they say the same. Sisyphus. Whack-A-Mole. So what to do when the same old same old rears its head yet again? There are 2,545 posts on this blog, and I suppose I could just point to prior posts. But a blog entry that consists of...

/ December 11, 2015
placebo_effect_chart1_624_v

Are Placebos Getting Stronger?

A new study looked at clinical trials for neuropathic pain over the last 23 years and found that the response of subjects in the placebo group has been increasing over time, but only in the United States. The cause of this increase is unknown, and has provoked a fascinating discussion about the nature of placebos and their role in medical research. What...

/ October 21, 2015

Whole Body Vibration Therapy

When skeptics hear the term “vibration” a red flag goes up, because that is a common term used in pseudoscientific jargon. Vibrations are often used to refer vaguely to energy or some physical or even spiritual property that cannot be detected, and is used in a hand-waving manner to explain extraordinary claims. Vibrations, however, are also a real thing, referring to physical...

/ October 14, 2015
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Should placebos be used in randomized controlled trials of surgical interventions?

Trials of new experimental drugs frequently compare them to placebo, particularly when there is a large subjective component to the disease being treated, such as pain. In contrast, placebo-controlled trials are rarely undertaken in surgery, mainly because it's been considered ethically dicey to do sham surgery on one group. Should this change? Should we be more open to doing randomized, placebo-controlled surgery...

/ May 25, 2015
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Placebo, Are You There?

By Jean Brissonnet, translation by Harriet Hall Note: This was originally published as “Placebo, es-tu là?” in Science et pseudo-sciences 294, p. 38-48. January 2011. It came to my attention in the course of an e-mail correspondence with the editors of that magazine, where one of my own articles was published in French translation in January 2015. I thought this was the...

/ February 24, 2015