Weekend Reading


It’s the peak of summer and much of the Eastern seaboard has been melting under record heat. Here’s some links of interest:

General Science

Gluten is the new MSG: Gluten and MSG intolerance may be only in your head. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Surprisingly good: Can Natural Products Protect You From Mosquitoes With West Nile Virus? Even the Environmental Working Group acknowledges that DEET is safe and effective.

Pharmacy and Medicine

Did the New York Times give too much credence to claims that “chronic” Lyme disease exists? For more on Lyme, see this last Weekend Reading.

Recent spike in armed robberies alarms Ontario pharmacists

A new site for those with chronic disease: Chronically Skeptical, “The on-line resource specifically intended for those with chronic (and other) illnesses and disabilities who prefer their social support network free of the mystical, the magical, the misinformed, the unproven and the dangerously deluded.”

Alternatives to Medicine

Acupuncture: Small risks versus no benefit. Also A Trilogy of (Acupuncture) Terror.

Sprinter Tyson Gay’s chiropractor and “anti-aging specialist” had prescribed a regimen that included: homeopathy, “foot detoxes”, herbals, and vitamins.

Yet more confirmation that blood-based “food intolerance” and “food sensitivity” testing is clinically useless: The UK Advertising Standards Agency issues a ruling on IgG food intolerance testing (sold in Canadian pharmacies as Hemocode and Yorktest):

Although it could conceivably work, consistent evidence that it is accurate or useful is lacking. CAP understands that good-quality clinical studies are needed to prove the efficacy of IgG tests.

It’s disappointing to see pharmacies continuing to sell Hemocode testing, when expert advisory groups advise against its use. See this overview in CMAJ for more.

Prince Charles is lobbying to see homeopathy funded by the National Health Service. No science wizard, that monarch-in-waiting.

Frustrating: Unproven Chinese Medicine Killing Manta Rays

Is Alternative Medicine Really ‘Medicine’? An interview with Dr. Paul Offit


The big news in vaccines and antivaccinationism is that Jenny McCarthy is going to be on The View. Lots of articles, check out Time Magazine, Salon, Respectful Insolence, and Slate. This is a bad decision for public health.

Extras and Other Stuff

The ADE 651, a bomb detection device, was modeled on a novelty trinket conceived decades before by a former used-car salesman from South Carolina, which was purported to detect golf balls. It wasn’t even good at that.

The journal Clinical Lactation jumps on the Dr. Sears bandwagon to say sleep training is dangerous. Science says otherwise.

There is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that people have different learning styles.

Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America’s Prisons.

The terrible and wonderful reasons The Oatmeal is a long distance runner.

Popeye ate spinach because the scientist who analyzed iron content misplaced the decimal.

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Photo from flickr user TheCLF used under a CC licence.

One thought on “Weekend Reading

  1. I ran into an old acquaintance recently and was very glad to accept a lunch invitation. After some pleasant conversation, and we arrived at the restaurant, she began questioning the waitress about gluten. The waitress actually went and got a GF menu for her! This was in a trendy neighborhood full of “wellness” shops, so I guess I’m not really surprised.

    My companion proceeded to go on about all her “inflammation”, gluten “allergy”, “adrenal fatigue”, her use of handfuls of supplements, reverse-osmosis water, and so on. Guess where she got all this “information”? Her son, a recent sports medicine (whatever that is) graduate, who is now applying for medical school, has also been diagnosed with all of the above by a “holistic doctor”.

    The same week, I had two houseguests from Chicago who are studying nursing in an accelerated program so that they can have a “medical background” when they apply to Bastyr in Seattle, where they are dying to move because it is so “alternative”-friendly. I am from Seattle, and while it is woo-friendly, I honestly don’t think it’s any more so than the midwest city I now live in–Milwaukee. I have severed a number of relationships in the last few years, after years of trying to accommodate “differences”, and I am finding it more and more difficult to talk to ANYone without some altie or medical conspiracy theory coming up. Even people who aren’t directly using alt-med will tell you they refuse to take a statin even thought their cholesterol is 280 or more, because they “just don’t trust the drug companies” or the doctors, or fill-in-the-blank. Most of these people will also (almost invariably) tell you that doctors are “arrogant”, which I guess means that (s)he doesn’t hold their hands and take four hour “personal histories” of all their aches and pains, and then offer a laundry list of panacea “treatments” that have nothing to do with the eight years s(he) spent in medical school.

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