Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Popular autism treatment found ineffective

Posted in News, Skepdude by Skepdude on June 1, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “MSNBC”

CHICAGO – An antidepressant that is among the most popular kinds of medicine used for treating autism didn’t work for most kids and caused nightmares and other side effects, new research found.

Results showed risks with Celexa outweighed any benefits in the largest published study of medication versus dummy pills for autism. That’s according to the lead author, Dr. Bryan King, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington medical school.

The drug is not approved for treating autism. However, many doctors have prescribed it, thinking it might help prevent repetitive behaviors such as spinning, twirling and head-banging that are hallmark autism symptoms. Similar antidepressants have been shown to help treat repetitive actions in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But in the autism study, Celexa worked no better than dummy pills. In fact, compared with kids on placebo, those on Celexa were more than twice as likely to develop repetitive behaviors, as well as other side effects including sleep problems and hyperactivity.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “MSNBC”

Skepdude says – I did a quick search at PubMed and the author’s hospital to see if I could find at least an abstract of the study, but I was not lucky. As usual, I like to at least read an abstract just to get an idea of how the study was conducted and if there are any major issues with it which could affect the conclusions, since we know how Press Releases can be, but I couldn’t find anything. So the news itemsis all we have to go and it appears that this drug does not work any better than placebo. The real question though is why are doctors prescribing a drug which has not been tested for autism?

British scientists ask WHO to condemn homeopathy for diseases such as HIV

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 1, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICEL AT “THE GUARDIAN”

British scientists have appealed to the World Health Organisation to publicly condemn homeopathy as a treatment for serious diseases, such as HIV, TB and malaria.

The researchers, many of whom have worked in developing countries, called on the WHO to act amid fears that vulnerable patients are dying after turning to homeopathic preparations instead of effective medicines.

The WHO works with national organisations that promote homeopathy and other alternative medicines in their public health programmes.

Homeopathy practitioners have opened clinics throughout Asian and sub-Saharan Africa and offer to treat patients with HIV, malaria, influenza and childhood diarrhoea, none of which have been shown to respond to homeopathy. Many patients are told that conventional drugs work only temporarily and that homeopathic preparations are cheap and effective alternatives with fewer side effects.

“Those of us working with the most rural and impoverished people of the world already struggle to deliver the medical help that is needed. When homeopathy stands in place of effective treatment, lives are lost,” the scientists write in an open letter to the organisation.

Homeopathic medicines are made by repeatedly diluting preparations with water until there is no trace left of the original compound. The overwhelming medical opinion is that homeopathic treatments are no more effective than placebos.

“The WHO’s strategy is very unclear on homeopathy and that is shocking. They are supposed to be articulating evidence-based medicine, but their stance is very wishy-washy,” said Dr Daniella Muallem, a biophysicist at University College London, who signed the letter.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICEL AT “THE GUARDIAN”

Snake-bite chicken ‘off the menu’

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 1, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “BBC NEWS”

China’s health authorities are reported to be putting a stop to restaurants serving chickens which have been bitten to death by poisonous snakes.

The dish, which is served by a small number of restaurants in Guangdong and Chongqing, is billed as detoxing.

But it has generated a storm of controversy in the media and among bloggers after a video of its preparation was circulated online.

The video shows a cook holding a snake and forcing it to bite a live chicken.

A week of intense internet discussion has reached the near-unanimous decision that it is cruel to kill live chickens by forcing deadly snakes to bite them repeatedly.

Some voices noted, however, that they found the cooked dish delicious.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “BBC NEWS”

Skeptify this poll

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 1, 2009

Via Pharyngula we get a link to this poll:

Do vaccines cause autism?

Absolutely. They caused my child’s autism.
Probably. I’ve seen evidence that suggests a link.
Possibly. I am weighing the evidence.
Probably not. Most of the evidence suggests there’s no link.
Absolutely not. There’s no link between vaccines and autism

Skeptify brothers and sisters (all 36 of you, as of the last count). Now why can’t PZ give me a plug and throw some crumbs from his behemoth daily traffic my way huh? Selfish!

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on June 1, 2009

What this letter also highlights is that the entire scientific community needs to be called out on the subject of CAM. Being a “shruggie” (someone who recognizes the unscientific nature of CAM but does not feel it is worth any of their time or attention) is no longer ethically defensible.Scientistst and health-care professionals have a contract with society which includes defending the public from the threats of pseudoscience. Nowhere today is this more necessary than the infiltration and erosion of science-based medicine by unscientific sectarian interests.

NEUROLOGICA

Oh, No! It’s Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!

Posted in Fun, Humorous by Skepdude on June 1, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT “THE ONION”

I…I think it’s finally over. Our reactionary emotional response seems to have stopped it dead in its tracks. If I’m right, all we have to do now is smugly reiterate our half-formed thesis and—oh, no! For the love of God, no! It’s thoughtfully mulling things over!

Run! Run! It’s making reasonable, fact-based arguments!

Quickly! Hide behind self-righteousness! The ad hominem rejoinders—ready the ad hominem rejoinders! Watch out! Dodge the issue at hand! Question its character and keep moving haphazardly from one flawed point to the next!

All together now! Put every bit of secondhand conjecture into it you’ve got!

Goddamn it, nothing’s working! It’s trapped us in our own unsubstantiated claims! We need to switch fundamentally unsound tactics. Hurry, throw up the straw man! Look, I think it’s going for it. C’mon…c’mon…yes, it’s going for it! Now hit it with the thing that one guy told us once while it’s distracted by our ludicrous rationalizations!

Gah! It’s calmly and evenhandedly deflecting everything we’re throwing at it. Our deductive fallacies are only making it stronger! Wait…what on earth is it doing now? Oh, no, it has sources! My God, it’s defending itself with ironclad sources! Someone stop the citing! Please, please stop the citing!

The language is impenetrable! For all that is good and holy, backpedal with all your might!

Where are the children? Someone overprotect the children! They cannot be exposed to this kind of illuminative reasoning. Their young, open minds are much too vulnerable to independent thought. We have to shield them behind our unshakeable intolerance for critical thinking.

What?!? Noooooooooo! Richard! For the love of God, it’s convinced Richard!

No time for tears now. Richard’s mind has been changed forever. But we mustn’t let it weaken our resolve. Mark my words, our ignorance will hold, no matter the cost. Now, more than ever, we have to keep floundering ahead with blind faith in our increasingly fallacious worldview.

For Richard’s sake.

What’s that? Now it’s making an appeal to reason? Never! Do you hear me, you eloquent, well-read behemoth? Never! We’ll die before we recognize what we secretly know to be true! The cognitive dissonance only makes our denial stronger!

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT “THE ONION”

Tip of the Skepticap to “Respectful Insolence”

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