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The future of the Science-based Medicine blog: SBM is recruiting new bloggers

It’s been a rather eventful week here at Science-Based Medicine. I apologize that I don’t have one of my usual 4,000 word epics ready for this week. I was occupied all day Saturday at a conference at which I had to give a talk, and Dr. Tuteur’s departure produced another issue that I had to deal with. Fortunately, because Dr. Lipson is scheduled to do an extra post today, I feel less guilty about not producing my usual logorrhea. Who knows? Maybe it will be a relief to our readers too.

This confluence of events makes this a good time to take a break to take care of some blog business and make formal what I alluded to on Thursday in the comments after I announced Dr. Tuteur’s departure, namely that it’s time for us at SBM to start recruiting. Our purpose in recruiting will be to make this blog even better than it is already. We have an absolutely fantastic group of bloggers here, and it is due to their hard work and talent that SBM has become a force to be reckoned with in the medical blogosphere. Our traffic continues to grow, and reporters and even on occasion governmental officials have taken notice. That’s why Dr. Tuteur’s departure makes this a perfect opportunity to build on that record and make SBM even better and a more essential as a source of medical commentary than it is already. To accomplish this goal, it’s clear that any recruitment cannot be simply to fill in a gap in our posting schedule. I would much rather have a weekday go without a post every now and then than to recruit the wrong person to take over Dr. Tuteur’s spot. As a result, I hope to make this recruitment more strategic and to do it in a more formal manner than we have perhaps done in the past. We also plan on taking our time and therefore ask your patience.

To this end, I’m going to ask for nominations, either self-nominations or nominations of others, as suggested bloggers for SBM. Please also include a link to the nominee’s blog or, if the nominee is not a blogger or otherwise known for skeptical writings regarding medicine elsewhere (such as R. Barker Bausell), samples of his or her writing about topics relevant to SBM. I will compile the list over the next couple of weeks; our bloggers will discuss and vet the candidates; and we will decide whom we want to try to persuade to join us, either as a regular weekly blogger (currently Harriet Hall, Steve Novella, and me), an every-other-week blogger (currently Peter Lipson, Mark Crislip, Val Jones, and Joe Albietz), a monthly blogger (currently Kim Atwood), or an occasional contributor (currently Wally Sampson, David Ramey, John Snyder, Tim Kreider, and David Kroll). Finally, if you’re nominating yourself, please specify how often you are interested in contributing and tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Also realize that we do require our bloggers to write under their own names. No pseudonyms will be permitted, at least not on this blog.

So where do we need the most help? A number of you, as well as a number of SBM bloggers, came up with excellent suggestions for priority areas where our readers what to see more material or where we are weak here at SBM. These areas include, in no particular order:

  • OB/GYN, including childbirth, pregnancy, and general women’s health issues.
  • Nutrition. We could really use a good, science-based nutritionist.
  • Psychology and/or psychiatry. As has been pointed out to us, there’s a lot of woo in the world of mental health.
  • Statistics. We could use a good statistician to analyze research methodology.
  • Epidemiology. As has also been pointed out to us, there is a lot of abuse of epidemiology out there.
  • Nursing. There’s a lot of woo in nursing, unfortunately, be it “therapeutic touch” or other woo.
  • Medical-legal. Although only one person suggested this, I think this is an excellent idea. What are the medical-legal implications of CAM? Why can’t state medical boards shut down quacks? What does the DSHEA really mean?
  • Medical ethics. There are profound ethical implications involved in CAM, in particular whether or not truly “informed” consent is even possible for CAM trials.

If you, dear readers, have any other suggestions, please let us have them. Either leave them in the comments or e-mail me directly at gorskon@gmail.com. Please do not e-mail me at work. I keep my work and blog business as separate as possible, which is why in general I do not respond to blog-related e-mails sent to me at work.

Finally, be aware that SBM is about more than this blog. As you may recall, we’ve arranged one symposium at TAM7, and we plan on doing two workshops at TAM8. We frequently consult with each other on issues of SBM. Sometimes we argue, and this is good. We aren’t looking for clones of one or more of us; we are looking for unique viewpoints who can defend and discuss science-based medicine while writing cogently and entertainingly about it. If you want to do more than that, such as giving talks, participating in workshops, and in general agitating to increase the role of science in medicine, and, as was laid out in the very first post on this blog, here’s why:

The philosophy of this blog, at its core, is simple: Safe and effective health care is critical to to everyone’s quality of life; so much so that it is generally considered a basic human right. The best method for determining which interventions and health products are safe and effective is, without question, good science. Therefore it is in everyone’s best interest for health care to be systematically evaluated by the best science available.

And:

This is why the authors of this blog strongly advocate for science based medicine – the use of the best scientific evidence available, in the light of our cumulative scientific knowledge from all relevant disciplines, in evaluating health claims, practices, and products. The authors are all medically trained and have spent years writing for the public about science and medicine, tirelessly advocating for high scientific standards in health care. Together, and with contributions from other medical science writers, they will turn a critical eye toward all issues relating to science and medicine. They hope to make the Science Based Medicine blog a vital resource for consumers, providers, regulators, the media, and anyone interested in quality health care.

Although our visibility and number of SBM bloggers have increased greatly in the two years since those words were written, our vision and purpose have not. We’re just looking for new people who share that vision and purpose to help us realize them. This time we are asking for your help.

Posted in: Announcements, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (36) ↓

36 thoughts on “The future of the Science-based Medicine blog: SBM is recruiting new bloggers

  1. epistudent says:

    If R. Barker Bausell is in the realm of possibility, then my strongest endorsement would be for him. I appreciate when statistical analysis is mentioned in this blog. It is done very well, most memorably in your several series on breast cancer, and by you all and many others on the autism/vaccine manufactroversy, but Bausell has written textbooks, and is arguably one of the best-versed scientists on research methodology. A cursory google search didn’t uncover a blog or regular articles, but I’m sure you’re familiar with his latest book, and maybe some of his earlier works (two of which are great guides to empirical research that are VERY accessible).

    If regular web contribution is a prerequisite, then I would recommend any of the bloggers at Effect Measure, who currently all blog anonymously… The epidemiological / public health view would be a great addition to the crew, it seems.

  2. epistudent says:

    I should have included this link in the previous post:

    http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/

  3. grendel says:

    My only suggestion (beyond those areas you suggest above) would be the somewhat murky waters of public policy – this too should be science or evidence based where possible.

  4. TimonT says:

    My particular concern is pseudoscience in clinical psychology. The best book I am aware of in this area is Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology edited by Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, and Jeffrey M. Lohr. Scott Lilienfeld has a blog called The Skeptical Psychologist. Jeffrey Lohr specifically points to pseudoscience as a particular concern on his Web page.

    Another excellent book in this area is House of Cards by Robyn Dawes.

    You could also check out the editors and authors associated with The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice.

  5. dohashi says:

    What about sports medicine/physiotherapy? I have a few friends who are involved in sports and there seems to be mountains of woo in the these areas.

  6. MomTFH says:

    I sent in an email with some links. May I also recommend The Fat Nutritionist as a good, critical nutrition writer with a firm grasp of the literature?

  7. twaza says:

    Hi David

    If you want me, I am available to contribute as an occasional blogger on the methods of science-based medicine. I would only want to contribute when I think I have something to say that needs saying and isn’t being said by other people.

    My particular interest is baloney detection.

    For the past 9 years I have been employed by an independent company as a full-time developer of evidence-based clinical guidelines for the English NHS (National Health Service). Prior to that I was a paediatric rheumatologist for about 10 years.

    I have in preparation a short series of blogs on what a clinical trial measures, what non-specific effects are, and why we should regard the results of open pragmatic trials as at high risk of bias.

    I have a few other ideas as well on methodological topics.

    I started my own blog a couple of months ago, but have only posted a few short articles as I have been distracted by work. You are welcome to visit it at:

    http://ebmfortheperplexed.blogspot.com/

    Michael

  8. jonny_eh says:

    I hope you guys don’t mind if a re-nominate Scott Gavura of Science-Based Pharmacy. I already nominated him in the comments for another post, but I wanted it to be here in case this was the ‘official’ list.

    As for why I’m nominating him:
    -He writes fantastic scientifically accurate and humanly readable blog posts about particular products you find on pharmacy shelves. (As well as skeptical pharmacy related news items)
    -He has published a huge critique of naturopathy in one of Canada’s most read newspapers, the National Post. This caused quite the stir.
    -He’s a contributor the to Canadian Skeptic North blog.
    -His blog was mentioned on the latest SGU (although Steve called it Science-Based Pharmacology by mistake)

    For an interview with the guy, check out this episode of The Reality Check

  9. Kausik Datta says:

    May I offer to be an occasional blogger? As you know, I am a post-doctoral researcher in Infectious Diseases, which is my main area of interest, along with vaccines. My other abiding interest is the spread of pseudoscience in academia, which I consider quite alarming. I don’t always find enough time to write (which is why I admire tremendously prolific bloggers like the SBM bloggers) – hence the request for the ‘occasional’ status.

  10. takamine45 says:

    In my field of clinical psychology, i also strongly encourage you to contact Dr. Scott Lileinfeld, who is as strong a skeptic as you can find in mental health (Neuroskeptic is good too from a general neuroscience perspective, although i’d imagine he’s pretty happy at his own blog). Check out Dr. Lilienfeld’s bio at Emory University:

    http://www.psychology.emory.edu/clinical/lilienfeld/index.html

    Even his research regularly calls others in the field out for non-science based practice (in my view, that he is advocating skepticism and talking about evidence-based practice in published articles is more impressive than having a blog – which he also has). Check out his research:

    http://www.psychology.emory.edu/clinical/lilienfeld/publications.html

  11. Kylara says:

    I’d like to beg the existing pedes to post on more than just anti-vaccine stuff (I’ve jumped that hurdle, I am facing sooooo much more pediatric woo and it’s my first baby, I don’t know enough!) and for you to add a “pediatric” category to the category list, if possible.

    It seems half the information out there about what “science” says is the best way to do X for your child is based on pure superstition and nothing else. We’re introducing table foods, so I’m interested in the thing where studies (apparently) show that introducing several foods in quick succession makes children more adventurous eaters open to more new flavors, but due to allergy fear, I’m recommended to only introduce new flavors one at a time and spread out by at least three days. If there’s no history of food allergies in the family, should I have to be so careful? And NO EGGS, despite eggs being what babies were started with when I was a baby. Apparently eggs are now quite evil.

    It’s frankly no wonder parents listen to the (sometimes questionable) wisdom of other parents, given the hysteria of so many of the “rules” I’ve been handed. My pediatrician is great, but so many of the day-to-day questions get answered by books, magazines, or the AAP, all citing “studies show,” frequently contradictory, and frequently hysterical. “Studies show LETTING YOUR BABY CRY WILL MAKE HIM A SERIAL KILLER!” Etc. I expect the anti-vax crowd and the autism woo crowd and the people subjecting their infants to chiropraxy are fed by this overload of hysterical, contradictory expert advice, and I expect most people don’t have pediatricians as cool as mine and as up-to-date on their anti-woo as mine.

  12. wannabeer says:

    I just want to applaud the work of all you bloggers and commenters on this site. I’m neither a scientist nor a healthcare professional. I found this site when doing background research on a company that is selling reservatrol-enhanced water, and have been hooked ever since. The MSM does such a terrible job covering science — there is so much sensationalism, and so much kowtowing to ridiculous positions in an effort to be “fair” that I now find health reporting, in particular, to be downright scary. (A view bolstered, by the way, by my reading of Dr. Paul Offit’s excellent “Autism’s False Prophets.” I’ve met him once or twice casually, and we have friends with children on the autism spectrum who are very active in the cause, so I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I think pediatricians should just give out copies of that book to all parents who are even considering rejecting vaccines.)

    Anyway, I feel like this site has schooled me in a number of ways. I enjoy reading it, and the comments, every day. Good work and good luck.

  13. Zetetic says:

    Good luck getting an RN to sign on here! Linda Rosa is a singular shining beacon against the woo fog present in nursing but I’ve rarely encountered anyone else in the profession who can or will proclaim that the emperor has no clothes.

  14. Zoe237 says:

    I posted this a few weeks ago in response to a blog (maybe “reflexive doubt”) because I really liked it, from the first blog post on SBM:

    “Too often the nature of science itself is misunderstood or misrepresented to the public. Science is not an arcane and privileged discipline. By its very nature it is meant to be transparent and public. Science is nothing more than a systematic and careful use of evidence and logic to evaluate factual claims. And good science possesses certain virtues that are not unique to science but generic to all intellectual endeavors: fairly accounting for all available evidence, using valid and internally consistent logic, using unambiguous concepts and language, proper use of statistics, being quantitatively precise and accurate, and above all being honest.”

    Kylara, the AAP came out with a new recommendation last week that all “choking foods” should be labeled and listed quite a few foods that kids below the age of 5 should NOt have. I’d love to know the science behind some of their recommendations (is it no wheat before 12 months? does that mean I can’t give my 8 month old a cracher or piece of toast?). Some of them, I’m all for (no milk or honey before a year), some I question. Oh, and I do wonder who went and made peds parenting experts. I prefer my pedi to stick to medical issues, thank you very much.

    I already recommended Nicholas Fogelson on academicobgyn.com

  15. “dohashion 01 Mar 2010 at 8:38 am

    What about sports medicine/physiotherapy? I have a few friends who are involved in sports and there seems to be mountains of woo in the these areas.

    Massage delves deeply into medical woo as well. It’s a topic that currently really only gets tangentially touched.

  16. steveisgood says:

    I’d like to echo the earlier recommendation of Scott Gavura of Science Based Pharmacy. In full disclosure, I am a bit biased because he is one of my (mighty) slaves at Skeptic North, Scott’s piece was the first post that blew the whistle on Naturopaths gaining prescription rights in Ontario, which helped the rest of us get the ball rolling. Entirely too many people don’t know who he is.

  17. Versus says:

    Good idea, Zetetic! I nominate Linda Rosa as SBM’s nurse-blogger.

  18. dedicated lurker says:

    I’ll second the Linda Rosa vote and add Jean Mercer as well (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-myths)

  19. cheglabratjoe says:

    Though I don’t have any suggestions, I’ll echo the opinion that a clinical psychologist would be great. My fiancee is a grad student in a clinical psych program, and her dept recently got an award for practicing “evidence-based treatments.” I asked her and her classmates what other programs’ treatments are usually based on (if not evidence), and they just rolled their eyes and told me not to get them started on all the nonsense out there.

  20. Lawrence C. says:

    For an expert in nutrition who always looks first for the scientific evidence, I don’t think you could get much better than (Dr.) Marion Nestle. She already has a great blog at http://www.foodpolitics.com. She may already be too committed to other things but if she could not participate I assume she could recommend someone with excellent credentials and writing skills.

  21. micheleinmichigan says:

    Thanks, dedicated lurker for the link.

    Just checked out three Jean Mercer’s Child Myths blog articles. The were on RAD, parental adoption expectations and the APA statement on Autism and Digestive Disorders. I was really looking for fault in the adoption article but she nailed it. I’m in love.

    I would second her nomination if she happened to be available.

    But I’ll follow her blog regardless.

  22. bluedevilRA says:

    My vote is still for psych but stats or epi would be great too. No one particular in mind.

    Also, my new blog post is up in case SBM is interested in a second student/researcher to do occasional posting. I know its a stretch to think I would be a contributor, but hell, I wouldn’t be reading Carl Sagan or blogging about Dr. Oz if I had discovered Neurologica, SBM and Orac. I’m glad I started to hone my sketpical mind before entering med school. With the proliferation of CAM in med schools, it’s probably pretty easy for them to lure young, impressionable medical minds into the woo. Not this one!

    http://dfreedm.wordpress.com/

  23. Zoe237 says:

    I second Jean Mercer (although she seems to have sort of controversy surrounding her, don’t know what it is) and Marion Nestle.

  24. anoopbal says:

    I would recommend someone in the nutrition or exercise field.

    It is a billion dollar industry and every person wants to know which diet works or which exercise program is effective or if those supplements work. It is topic which appeals to everyone.

    And I would suggest the authors put a bit more effort into how they write articles. Instead of writing one long article, I would say break it down to sub topics and have more sub headings . Like here, why we need a new blogger? What are we looking for?

    It helps the readers and it also helps the authors to organize their thoughts better. Breaking the articles into bullet points and italics really help with readability as shown in this article.

    If we want to get more readers, readability is one area we can improve.

  25. Fifi says:

    I’d also love to see someone who could apply some SBM to nutrition and sports medicine/exercise. I’ll see if I can hustle up some suggestions.

    While it’s not purely SBM, I’d also suggest someone who can deconstruct and/or critique health news reporting from a journalist/media angle. Gary Schwitzer of http://www.healthnewsreview.org takes on American medical reporting and seems to do a good job. Why not work with the people who do care about good medical science reporting? They’re out there and they need your (and our) support :-)

  26. micheleinmichigan says:

    Zoe237 – A quick google has lead me to believe that the controversy with Jean Mercer is in regard to her stance on Attachment Therapy.

    Here is the wiki summary on Attachment Therapy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_attachment_disorder

    “Mainstream practitioners and theorists have presented significant criticism of the diagnosis and treatment of alleged reactive attachment disorder or attachment disorder within the complementary and alternative medicine field commonly known as attachment therapy. Attachment therapy has an unconventional theoretical base and uses diagnostic criteria or symptom lists unrelated to criteria under ICD-10 or DSM-IV-TR, or to attachment behaviors. A range of treatment approaches are used in attachment therapy, some of which are physically coercive and considered to be antithetical to attachment theory.[9]”

    Sorry I don’t have a better source, but it can at least serve as a basis to research further if someone is interested in AT or RAD.

  27. Geekoid says:

    “OB/GYN”

    Yes, because they will be treated so fairly~

  28. Tsuken says:

    As a psychiatrist I would dearly love to see a psychiatrist join SBM. There is indeed a lot of unscientific practice around (even proudly espoused at times, which is particularly concerning). It’s not just alternative/”integrative” blah blah; it’s just a lack of critical thought and attention to the science and evidence – a great example is what’s happening around antidepressant efficacy recently: flawed meta-analyses are polarising views – not necessarily based in the evidence, but in anecdote and belief.

    Being rather new to the psychiatric blogo-webo-sphere, I don’t have anyone in particular to suggest (sorry) – and I’m not even managing to get my own psych blogs happening as often as I’d like – but I do really want to add my plea for an SBM shrink.

  29. Cool! I’ll post a link to this at my blog, which is for doctors and other medical professionals who write. Fun opportunity.

  30. TVanasse says:

    I had to register and comment here, as I would love to see a nursing contributer. I am in nursing school now, and have considered dropping out because of the constant inundating of woo based practice in nursing. Linda Rosa is the only RN I know of, but I really think their needs to be way more of a science-based skeptical voice in nursing.

  31. lonnie123 says:

    As mentioned in the thread about Amy leaving, I’m an RN and would be interested in contributing on a monthly basis. I actually butted heads with an instructor in Nursing school about some of the woo that RN’s tend to deal with, so im familiar with a fair amount of it.

    LonnieDucote [at] Gmail if you are interested.

  32. Erik Arnesen says:

    Studying public health nutrition myself, I cannot resist recommending professor Marion Nestle if you are looking for a nutrition expert/authority. She has written extensively about issues such as the absurd and deceptive health claims and marketing of “functional foods” and dietary supplements, the failure of the DSHEA, food safety, etc and she has a clearly skeptic and science-based world view (the term “science-based” is indeed mentioned in her books, like “Food Politics” (2002))….

    http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/faculty_bios/view/Marion_Nestle

  33. JerryM says:

    I can’t believe nobody has asked for this yet.

    I want a Dentist!

    Yes this is purely for my immediate benefit. My dentist today told me I should have my wisdom teeth removed, cause they’re very likely on their side.

    Not motivated at all by the fear of pretty major surgery, completely forgetting the excruciating pain one of my wisdom tooth caused when breaking up and the subsequent removal process that included a anaesthetic shot that felt like someone shot a needle through my nose, up my eyes and out of the top of my head, I wondered, what evidence is there for “Prophylactic Removal of Third Molars” as it’s called…

    So, can we have a dentist please? Before next week, preferably?

  34. apteryx says:

    I had a dentist tell me over 20 years ago that I should have three unerupted wisdom teeth hacked out because they might, someday, cause me problems. No problems so far, and my current dentist doesn’t seem to think it’s even an issue. It has been my experience that some dentists are gung-ho for major interventions as prophylaxis or to correct little imperfections, while others are far more conservative. Before having surgery for an asymptomatic “condition,” I’d sure want to get a second opinion from one of the latter type and see whether he concurred.

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