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A Year of Science-Based Medicine

On January 1, 2008 I wrote the first blog entry on Science-Based Medicine introducing the new blog. Now, by coincidence, I have the privilege of writing the last entry of 2008. It seems like a good time to look back over the last year and reflect on our little project.

I am happy to write that by all measures SBM has been a satisfying success. Most blogs end after a few months. We not only kept up our schedule for the entire year, we expanding our writing about midway through the year. Given that there are millions of blogs, by necessity most blogs are relatively obscure. SBM rather quickly garnered a respectable readership and gained the attention of the some in the media as well as those with oppossing views.

I am very proud of the quality of the articles we have published here. Of course I have to thank all of my co-bloggers – David Gorski, Kim Atwood, Harriet Hall, Wally Sampson, and Mark Crislip who were with me from the beginning and Val Jones, David Kroll, Peter Lipson, and David Ramey who joined us part way through the year. Every week they each contributed a magazine-quality article, and then hung around to discuss their articles and others in the comments section. They all do this without any compensation, out of a pure desire to have a positive effect on the world.

I also have to give a special thanks to David Gorski for stepping up and filling the role of managing editor. As most of you are aware, I produce two podcasts and contribute to four blogs in addition to running a local skeptical organization and having an academic medical career. So it was a great help for David to take some of the administrative duties off my hands. He has helped from the beginning with moderating comments and managing the site, and then volunteered to be responsible for recruiting new talent. The expansion of our contributors was entirely due to his efforts.

But all of the editors offer their energy, experience, and insight into this project.  We also have plans for the future that go beyond running a successful blog. Most of us have been involved for years in efforts to educate the public about science and medicine, resist the erosion of the scientific standard of care in medicine, and oppose infiltration by fraud and quackery. Wally headed a peer-reviewed paper journal called The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, that Kim, I and others also contributed to. SRAM, however, did not achieve our goals. Wally discovered through tireless efforts that the CAM proponents were already the gate-keepers of information on CAM. They were able to block SRAM from being listed as an official peer-reviewed journal by the International Library of Medicine – that is death to a medical journal. While SRAM still continues, we all knew it would never have the impact we wanted.

We chatted for several years about what we could do to be more effective in our anti-quackery efforts. It seemed like a losing battle, and in many ways still is. That is why a year ago I decided to start the SBM blog. I had already learned of the potential of the new media through my other efforts, and a science-based medicine blog seemed like the perfect venue to get our efforts off the ground. I coined the term science-based medicine because I wanted our blog to be about what we are for, not what we are against. We advocate for a univsersal science-based standard of care in medicine. The term is also a play on evidence-based medicine, which almost gets it right but fails to properly consider prior plausibility in its evaluations.

The term has grown on me over the last year, and I think it is catching on. It serves as a useful catch-phrase to summarize what we are all about. I like telling patients and others that I practice science-based medicine. It nicely encapsulates my approach. It also gives us a hook on which to hang our philosophy of medicine. We get to define what science-based medicine means, because we coined the term to refer to our own position.

This blog, although a very useful tool, is also not the end of our ambitions. It was always meant to be a means to an end and not an end unto itself.  We are still not sure what form our future efforts should take – how to build on the success of SBM. In many ways this is an experiments, and we are just figuring it out as we go along. We know what we want to achieve. We want to give voice to all those physicians, health care professionals, and patients (and potentially we are all patients) who are disturbed by the infusion of antiscience and nonsense into medicine. We feel a vocal minority has controlled the conversation for too long. We have all had the experience of having colleagues come up to us to express their solidarity with our views, but also express that they do not feel empowered to express it or do anything about it out of fear of being labeled as politically incorrect, closed-minded or biased. Therefore we want to make the promotion of science-based medicine politically correct again (which always amazes me that we have to), to give voice to the silent majority that is fed up with the nonsense.

And of course we want to make health care more scientific – at all levels. This does not mean only fighting against the worst forms of pseudoscience in medicine (although we do that quite a bit), but advocating for the highest standards of science for all medical practices. We want to re-establish a single scientific standard, and abolish the double standard that has been created specifically so that scientifically invalid modalities can sneak into the practice of medicine.

So, thanks again to all our contributors for helping make SBM a successful blog. Thanks to all our readers, and especially those who take the time to engage us in the comments section. The feedback is part of the strength and vitality of this blog.

Have a happy new year, everyone, and here’s to another successful year of science-based medicine in 2009.

Posted in: Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (46) ↓

46 thoughts on “A Year of Science-Based Medicine

  1. Dr Benway says:

    Huzzah! Well done! Woot!

    I’m so proud of all you guys.

  2. jonny_eh says:

    First of all, congrats on starting up my favourite blog this year and thanks to all the writers! This has become the defacto site to look up info on CAM for me, it never fails me. It’s amazing what one year’s worth of daily articles can accomplish! I can’t wait for the next year.

    Second, some suggest that you can judge a movie or TV show based on how many new terms they coin. Seinfeld coined a bunch, Shakespeare created innumerable words we still use.

    I think as a sign of SBM’s success is the coining of terms like ‘science based medicine’ (I use it all the time, and it seems to resonate with people) and ‘shruggie’ (finally, a label for the people allowing CAM problem to worsen). Also, you guys are bringing back words like ‘quack’ that have for too long been out of use. Language is the most important tool or impediment to conveying ideas, and every new term or phrase helps immensely!

  3. DavidCT says:

    Definitely a worthwhile blog which has developed into a significant information resource. Thank you all for the effort!

  4. MitoScientist says:

    Teh science-based medicine forever!!!111!!11!!! LOLZ!!!

    Seriously though, young scientists and future physicians like myself are reading you guys constantly, so you’re not only performing an invaluable service for the general public, but helping shape the next generation of science-based medicine practitioners. Much love.

  5. Danio says:

    Congratulations, all, on a very successful year. SBM is a daily destination for me, and I especially appreciate the breadth of topics and writing styles offered here. Thanks for your continued commitment to excellence, and I look forward to more of it in 2009.

  6. Skeptic says:

    Congratulations on the continued success. SBM has been a class act from its inception and a much needed central site advocating for rationality in medicine. I agree with others that the term “science based medicine” is a fine one, and of great use as the Alternative Medicine crowd has shown itself to be adept at co-opting terms, including one that should be squarely in the realm of science based medicine: “evidence based medicine.” I think the term “science” will be harder for them to successfully co-opt, not that they won’t try, as the creationists have in coining the oxymoronic “Creation Science.”

    I’ve been very impressed with the quality and the quantity of the articles posted on SBM, including many original posts as well as some cross posts. I wholeheartedly support the customized cross posting of articles here that authors have also posted to their personal blogs. I do not feel that to be redundant and it is an excellent way of extending the reach and value of those posts.

  7. weing says:

    Three cheers and a thank you to all you guys and gals. I don’t let a day go buy without getting my fix of SBM. You are like a breath of fresh air. It’s always good to know that we are not alone.

  8. urology-resident says:

    I have probably learned more about medical research/critical thinking in this blog than during medical school or residency.

    I would highly recommend this blog to any medical student, resident or doctor, interested in acquiring the skills necessary to interpret the medical literature.

    Most CAM research is just a good example of bad science and how not to write or do research, and I think sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is learning how not to do it.

    Dr Novella should be given the Carl Sagan award.

  9. Mark Roberts says:

    Thanks to all of you for one of the best blogs around, and happy new year!

  10. khan says:

    As a non medical person, I am grateful for scientific stuff sufficiently dumbed-down. Came here from ‘denialism’ & ‘insolence’.

  11. Necessary and important.

    Well done and happy new year to you all.

  12. Ira says:

    Excellent site, and also love your work on the SG podcast (to which I’m addicted :) This is the first site I come to to look up my suspicions about stuff I hear and read in medicine, and I’m glad I have “infected” at least two friends who cherry pick the very best of this blog in their “Google Reader Shared Items” if I miss anything.

    The one thing I hope to see more are follow-up articles. At times I find that the comments in the posts feature long lists of persuasive counter arguments, data and issues that require further clarification and backup from the original author (one example that comes to mind is the long list of comments to Dr. Hall’s recent article on circumcision).

    Other than that, I remain your skeptically-loyal, non-fanatic fan :-)

  13. clgood says:

    As someone who was nearly taken in by the anti-vaccine crowd years ago I applaud this blog and all its component bloggers for a job well done. Not that you converted me (I had already made that journey) but you have provided a great education on that and many other topics.

    Huzzah, I say! Keep it up.

  14. Meadon says:

    Congratulation on your first year… I’ve enjoyed reading, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot. So, I agree with the other commentators, keep it up!

  15. storkdok says:

    Bravo! Brava!

    I congratulate you on a job well done!

    I have learned so much about skepticism and learning how to name what I knew to be pseudoscience, but didn’t know how to deconstruct it in proper terms.

    Thank you to all of you! As the mother of a child with autism, thank you for your help in battling the pseudoscience of autism!

  16. David Gorski says:

    It should also be noted that recent events and my work have prevented me from recruiting even more new bloggers. I intend to try to remedy that situation in early 2009. My goal is to have at least two posts every weekday excluding holidays and one post on every weekend day without sacrificing quality.

    Skeptical medical bloggers whom I like but who have not yet been recruited may well get an e-mail from me.

    I also apologize profusely to a couple of people who have submitted guest posts. I have not forgotten, although it may seem that way. I would like to publish guest posts, but we have to work out a “peer review” system so that (1) I’m not the only one deciding what gets published and (2) to try to assure quality.

  17. MBoaz says:

    Congratulations on a year of brilliant, thought provoking work! SBM has made and continues to make me a more informed scientist and skeptic. I look forward to another year of learning from all the writers and contributors to this blog, that I might be a better medical student in 2010, and ultimately a better physician. Thanks you Dr. Novella and company for fighting the good fight, and being an advocate for all patients everywhere.

  18. Harriet Hall says:

    Ira wrote,

    The one thing I hope to see more are follow-up articles. At times I find that the comments in the posts feature long lists of persuasive counter arguments, data and issues that require further clarification and backup from the original author (one example that comes to mind is the long list of comments to Dr. Hall’s recent article on circumcision).

    I didn’t think any of the circumcision comments were persuasive, and I tried to answer most of them, except the ones that were too irrational and emotional to merit a serious response. Did I miss something? Do any of my co-bloggers think issues were raised in the comments that need to be re-visited?

  19. pmoran says:

    “We are still not sure what form our future efforts should take ”

    If one objective of the blog is to aid the public in dealing with quackery and health fraud, I have a suggestion.

    Instead of, or as well as, piece-meal debunkings and critiques of pseudoscience and quackery let us work towards a single, simple message that can be hammered away at wherever such discussions arise. We need one that will make sense to the widest possible section of the public while still being consistent with the evidence base.

    I have been using one that goes something like this. “Yes, alternative methods do seem to help with some kinds of medical problem, but they should not be relied upon as stand-alone treatments in serious diseases.”

    It damns the so-called “quack” with faint (but in my view appropriate) praise, while defusing most of the issues that can trigger angry counterclaim from rvrn those with moderate views. Most importantly it emphasises the area where worthless methods can do most harm.

  20. Happy 2009, Science-Based Medicine!!! You are fabulous, educational, and entertaining, but mostly FABULOUS!!! Many happy blog-returns! :)

  21. Jayhox says:

    Great job all. Keep up the great work.

  22. Nomad says:

    My favorite article this year was David Gorski’s “The Orange Man” article because I always show it to people when they use the “What’s the harm?” line. I find it to be especially effective.

    Lets hope for many more years of this blog.

  23. Skeptic says:


    # Harriet Hallon 01 Jan 2009 at 6:56 pm
    Did I miss something? Do any of my co-bloggers think issues were raised in the comments that need to be re-visited?”

    Well, I do think you were somewhat dismissive of some of the more reasonable criticisms in the comments, such as your articles repeated reliance reliance and citations of the pro-circumcision website circ info and no citations or references to any any anti-genital mutilation sites. You more than managed to give the impression of bias in your article by doing so–and since there are some reasonable arguments on both sides you can’t argue that citing both sides of the issue would be a false equivalency. Nor did you ever answer, AFIK, how a non-indicated circumcision meets the ordinary standard of care for pediatric surgery, which commenter BDwyeron noted:

    “The standard of care used for all other pediatric surgery requires the medical benefits of the surgery to far outweigh the risks and harms of the surgery or for the surgery to correct a congenital abnormality. Non-therapeutic circumcision of healthy boys does not even come close to meeting that standard of care.”

    So, how does circumcision meet the standard of care for pediatrics?

  24. Harriet Hall says:

    Skeptic,

    I think you need to re-read my article more carefully. Any impression of bias is in the eye of the beholder. I did make reference to anti-circumcision sources, and I listed all the arguments from those sources before addressing (and critiquing) the pro-circumcision arguments. I did not claim that circumcision met the standard of care for pediatrics. In fact, I questioned the ethics of doing an elective procedure on an infant who was unable to give consent, and I mentioned ear-piercing, which is generally accepted but has NO conceivable medical benefits.

  25. David Gorski says:

    Yeah, a lot of the attacks on you after that post struck me as being by people who either didn’t actually read your post or who are so ideologically biased that if you didn’t give them 100% support you are an evil baby mutilator. There were enough straw men in the attacks against you to feed all the cattle in the world for a year–with the resultant excrement being able to fertilize every farm in the U.S. for just as long.

  26. Joe says:

    I find it sad that the circumcision question should rear its head again. I’ll give you a tip, cut it off right now.

    Anyway, I only bother with a few blogs/forums, and this is one of them. The quality is high, and the topics interest me. Congratulations to all.

  27. Skeptic says:

    David Gorski wrote:

    “a lot of the attacks on you after that post struck me as being by people who either didn’t actually read your post or who are so ideologically biased that if you didn’t give them 100% support you are an evil baby mutilator.”

    I agree, but she was also dismissive of reasonable arguments. And she admits to using biased sources for her research but dismisses any possibility of bias out of hand, even as she makes a false equivalence to ear piercing. Additionally, she claims that is “unbiased”, saying something to the effect that she is neutral on the subject, yet if the facts are as she says then applying the pediatric standard of care should result in an answer of “no” to circumcision.

    Here is the concluding paragraph to her “unbiased” article that is completely “neutral” on the issue:

    I used to live in Spain, where you could tell girl babies from boy babies just by looking at their ears: all the baby girls had their ears pierced in the delivery room. That was a “mutilating” procedure with no conceivable medical benefit and a small risk of infection, deformity, or ingestion of earring parts. It was nowhere near as controversial as circumcision. I wonder why.

    What exactly are we to conclude from this anecdote? My take is that Dr. Hall is suggesting that circumcision is as trivial as pediatric ear piercing–or that men are whiners, or something. Hard to know for certain since Dr. Hall chose to be coy rather than, well, actually **say what she meant.** That really isn’t a good model to follow if the aim is clear communication. And I find the false equivalency to piercing the cartilage of an earlobe and the excision of functional penile tissue to be rather suggestive of bias.

    I should point out that I’m not an anti-circ activist, at the moment no circ seems a reasonable stance to take, but I’m open to evidence to the contrary on the matter. I’m exactly the kind of person Dr. Hall’s article should have appealed to. Yet the repeated citations of a biased website to the total exclusion of any opposing websites, the glib false equivalencies, the dismissive attitude to anyone who points out those flaws, and the refusal to apply the ordinary pediatric standard of care to the issue all add up to suggest the possibility of bias. I think the SBMers have let these flaws slide based on Halls reputation and the easy excuse of “oh, it is just fanatics complaining, we don’t need to pay attention”–as David Gorski’s post, above, confirms.

  28. DLC says:

    Congrats on a good solid year of quality posts.

  29. Fifi says:

    Thanks for the blogs, as someone who’s passionate about medicine, communication and culture I’ve found them an interesting read (though I do question how effective they are at speaking to anyone but the converted or those of us who have a prior interest in these things). While (as you know) I don’t agree with all positions held by all bloggers on all subjects, that’s what I expect out of a good blog that tackles difficult issues. I do think there is a tendency by one or two authors to be ocassionally blind to biases they hold regarding topics that cut close to their identities (or self perception). That, however, is quite human, understandable and predictable (since we have to be aware of a bias to own it and willing to consider that we may have a bias even though we view that as a negative thing that we’re personally above). Since I have two parents who are doctors (and quite human), I don’t find it particularly troubling most of the time, even if I do find it a bit frustrating since it diminishes and negates the message about SBM and confirms accusations made by those into CAM. Beware of thinking oneself above being human! ;-)

  30. weing says:

    Skeptic,

    Just take Joe’s tip and cut it off. He’s willing to give it up.

  31. Diane Henry says:

    Thanks SBM, for a fascinating and informative year. I appreciate your taking the time to do this.

  32. skeptyk says:

    Thank you all so much for SBM blog and for all the rest you each do for the cause of skepticism, critical thinking and the hands-on work of real medicine, science and education. What a terrific site this has been from the get-go.

  33. Harriet Hall says:

    Before cutting it off as Joe suggests, I’d just like to clarify a couple of points. My reference to ear piercing was not intended to suggest that ear piercing and circumcision were equivalent. Quite the contrary. Ear piercing is a procedure with NO medical value, yet many people find it acceptable, even some of those who reject circumcision based on the false belief that there are NO medical benefits. My article was not intended to evaluate the “standard of care” or ethical issues, but simply to review the science behind the claims that cirumcision is harmful or beneficial. And as I said, I have never decided whether I would want an infant son of my own to have a circumcision. There is no way anyone could construe that as bias unless they were already so prejudiced against circumcision that they believed neutrality equals a pro-circumcision bias, which was actually suggested in the comments.

    I researched and reported information from both pro- and anti- circumcision sites. I did not count to see whether I used more links from one or the other: I inserted links where I thought they would be helpful for clarification. Is it necessary to actually count and put in an equal number of links to both? I don’t think so, and I suspect my critics would have been equally critical even if I had done so.

  34. Skeptic says:

    “Is it necessary to actually count and put in an equal number of links to both? I don’t think so, and I suspect my critics would have been equally critical even if I had done so.”

    Not really necessary to “count” if the count is several citations versus **zero**. Sole reliance on a biased source is a structural problem with your methodology. And you are wrong about “the critics” if that category includes me. My issues with your article are not necessarily pro vs. anti circumcision, but the appearance of bias the structure of your article gives. Take, for instance, your use of bolded bullet points:

    “Arguments against circumcision

    Arguments for Circumcision
    Circumcision reduces the transmission of AIDS.
    Circumcision prevents penile cancer.
    Reduced risk of urinary tract infection.
    Reduced risk of balanitis.
    Reduction of the incidence of various sexually transmitted diseases
    Circumcision prevents phimosis and paraphimosis
    About 10% of uncircumcised infants will require circumcision later in life
    Hygiene.
    Aesthetics.
    Zipper injuries
    Other boys will laugh at you
    Not Medically Indicated or Contraindicated”

    Based on your bolded formatting, one would think that there are no significant arguments against circumcision but plenty for it. This issue about your article that you cavalierly dismiss.

    You may not be biased, Dr. Hall, but the article you wrote as the structural appearance of an article that is.

    “There is no way anyone could construe that as bias unless they were already so prejudiced against circumcision that they believed neutrality equals a pro-circumcision bias, which was actually suggested in the comments.”

    Your defenses seemed reasonable up until I got to this. By extension, you are claiming anyone who finds structural flaws in your claims to neutrality is prejudiced. You are making a claim that no un-biased person could disagree with your claim of neutrality!! What poppycock. Reasonable people can disagree on the merits, your generic claim of exemption from such disagreements notwithstanding. The fact that you would have the temerity to claim a categorical exemption from scrutiny is rather stunning and, I should think, has no legitimate place on SBM, where such claims of exemption from scrutiny are the kind held dearly by the practitioners of Alternative medicine.

  35. David Gorski says:

    Skeptic:

    This thread is not where you should be hashing this out with Harriet. Your comments are off-topic.

    I put up with it for a while on the assumption that it would be short-lived, but your continuation of this has made it clear to me that you intend to continue to try to hash this issue out here in this comment thread. If that’s the case, I’m going to tell you right now to stop, please. Instead, you should continue this discussion in a more appropriate venue, namely over at the original circumcision article. If I see any more comments in this thread after this warning, I will very seriously consider deleting them.

    Feel free to post them after the original circumcision article, which is here and where they are on topic:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=269

    You may, if you like, post a single comment here linking to any followup comments you have made over at Harriet’s original post about circumcision, so that people can easily find them.

    This is the only warning you will get.

  36. Skeptic says:

    “Skeptic:

    This thread is not where you should be hashing this out with Harriet. Your comments are off-topic.”

    Thanks, your concern about the side topic is understandable. I assume you’ll make the same statement to Dr. Hall for doing the same thing? And threatening to delete her posts on this topic?

    Anywya, I did not bring this topic up in this thread. I dropped in to add my congratulations to the SBM blog on it’s continued utility, its high quality and it’s success, as you can see by my first post. It was “Ira” who mentioned that she’d like to see more follow up articles in the future, citing, in passing, Dr. Hall’s Circumcision article as one that might merit from such a review. Dr. Hall responded dismissively, saying that she found none of the comments about her article “persuasive” or worth of follow up.

    My comments vis-a-vis Dr. Hall were that I think she’s been overly dismissive of criticism, a trait which she continues to evince here, so much so that she has categorically declared that no un-biased person could find fault with her article!

    I’ve merely been defending my position from Dr. Halls steadfast and active dismissal of criticism of her article, and now from her claim, by extension, that I must be prejudiced if I find structural flaws in her article’s claims to neutrality. Now you come in to suggest that I’m the one being un-reasonable by continuing to respond to Dr. Halls posts! Each of my posts in this thread on this topic have been direct responses to claims by you or Dr. Hall, and in defense of my own positions. If you can find any unreasonable claims by me in this or any other comment thread on SBM, please cite them. I, unlike Dr. Hall, have not made categorical claims to be exempt from criticism, and I hope that some of you will resist the urge to form automatic defensive ranks around a highly qualified friend and colleague and, instead, look at the points brought up in this comment thread objectively and dispassionately, as should be the case on SBM. If SBM can’t be objective about it’s own members articles and claims then it risks the same kind of knee-jerk defensiveness that is such a barrier to reason and rational inquiry in the Alternative Medicine establishment.

  37. Peter Lipson says:

    The comment verges on “concern trollism”. Really. There was a fine, vigorous discussion at the original thread, and just because someone disagrees with the author doesn’t mean that the author has it out for them or is in some way in the thrall of “Big Circ”. I mean, really now…

  38. Fifi says:

    For me, it seemed rather obvious that any doctor who has performed circumcisions (or any operation) has a potential bias towards thinking that an operation didn’t hurt anyone in any real way since they’ve personally been involved in the act. (There was also some very clear gender bias in her “just man up” attitude – though this is just as likely a result of having worked for the military it would seem to me.) Ultimately, for me, it was both the lack of acknowledgment that having performed the operation COULD lead to a personal bias combined with the demeaning language directed at people who do (for whatever reason) feel that they’ve lost out due to having been routinely circumsized, that made it clear to me that – on this particular subject – Dr Hall does actually have areas of potential bias she’s not even willing to look at. It’s a shame because ultimately she disempowers the message of evidence based medicine when she does so – not that I expect the bloggers here to be more than human but if one is going to attack others for this kind of thing, one should guard against it in oneself and be open to considering that, being human, there may be a personal bias as a physician towards wanting to believe that one has done no harm (not that I’m saying circumcision IS doing harm, just that considering that it does means considering that one has done harm to babies – not something anyone really wants to think they’ve done even accidentally or through innocence from lack of scientific knowledge). That said, I’ve enjoyed many of Dr Hall’s posts and acknowledge that circumcision is a very emotional topic tied in with deeply felt social beliefs and taboos that are very meaningful to some people, making it a complex topic to discuss. I also don’t have a penis so, as a woman, I don’t consider myself in any position to judge what is or isn’t a loss sexually to a man (just as I wouldn’t consider a man in a position to make this call for a woman or women in general).

  39. Fifi says:

    For my part this has nothing to do with “Big Circ”, it has to do with basic and predictable human bias and one’s own inability to see an unacknowledged bias. I understand that Dr Hall did her best not to be biased and it seemed to me she wasn’t promoting an anti nor pro-circumcision position, she seemed to want to promote a “circumcision is neither here nor there and no big deal” position since that is a more comfortable beleif for someone who has performed circumcisions. I fully understand that doctors who performed circumcisions were just doing what everyone else in medicine did at the time and believed it was the best thing so I’m not trying to paint Dr Hall as being some cruel baby torturer with a black heart – quite the opposite, it seems to me that the idea of hurting a baby is horrific enough to her that she can’t even consider the possibility.

  40. David Gorski says:

    Thanks, your concern about the side topic is understandable. I assume you’ll make the same statement to Dr. Hall for doing the same thing? And threatening to delete her posts on this topic?

    No, I will not, because I know Harriet will move over to the correct thread without being asked once the rest of you do.

    I also agree with Peter here. All the criticisms I’ve seen of Harriet reek of concern trollism, yours included.

    If SBM can’t be objective about it’s own members articles and claims then it risks the same kind of knee-jerk defensiveness that is such a barrier to reason and rational inquiry in the Alternative Medicine establishment.

    Give me a break. I’ve taken on Wally, for example, on more than one occasion when I disagreed with him. Go back to his posts about the Iraqi war dead studies in The Lancet if you don’t believe me. Others here have engaged in lively debate. We are not a monolith. All I did was suggest, admittedly bluntly, that you move your criticisms over to the appropriate comment thread. Perhaps I was too blunt, but, quite frankly, this whole circumcism kerfuffle has gotten on my nerves because so many of the critics appear not even to have read what Harriet actually wrote or, if they did, obtusely ignoring what she really did say.

    In any case, no one has stopped you or anyone else from even harsh criticisms. Only two commenters have ever been banned. One was John Best. Enough said. The other was pec, whose ban was only temporary. Both were after only extreme provocations that other blogs would not have tolerated as long as we did.

  41. Sil says:

    Thank you all and greetings from germany.

    This is my favourite Blog and I learned a lot about quackery, antiscience and the english language [ ;-) ] here.

    Keep on doing this good work!
    I promise, I will keep on reading the SBM-blog.

  42. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    Thanks for fighting the good fight. Looking foreward to 2009.

  43. wertys says:

    I too would like to congratulate the SBM team and put in a couple of comments.(Not related to circumcision !!)

    Firstly I have gone in the course of the year from a borderline ‘shruggie’ to use Dr Jones’ excellent term to a rabid advocate locally for SBM. I have felt motivated to take on the local anti-fluoride nuts in my region in the columns of the local (heavily-biased) newspaper, prepared and delivered presentations on clinical critical thinking at my hospital and ensured that the curriculum of the medical school in my town which is being set up is free of woo and also contains material that will ensure future medical students don’t have to wait for years to be exposed to these ideas by accident, as was the case for me.

    So, even though SBM bloggers may be preaching to the choir, they shouldn’t forget that the choir consists of people who may be metamorphosing into activists for SBM, who need somewhere to sharpen their ideas and draw inspiration.

    So here’s to 2009 and may the year end with fewer shruggies than it began !

  44. storkdok says:

    wertys, you put it so well!

  45. overshoot says:

    Unmentioned, but worthy of memory:

    The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo.

    Sweet while it lasted.

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