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Humour and CAMs

A collection of articles and Youtubes on the lighter side of CAM

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Good science in medicine

This section includes articles relevant to the scientific basis of Medicine.

Friends of Science in Medicine papers:

FSM/RCPA recommendations for pathology tests in Australia (*)

Comment: Pathology recommendations, prepared by the FSM Pathology Advisory Group which includes distinguished pathologists from Australia and New Zealand and supported by The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia


Viva La Evidence:

“a 21st century clinician who cannot critically read a study is as unprepared as one who cannot take a blood pressure or examine the cardiovascular system


The COMPare Project -Tracking Switched Outcomes in Clinical Trials

Comment :Outcome switching in clinical trials is a serious problem (read why). This project is systematically checking every trial published in the top five medical journals, to see if they have misreported their findings.

Trusting in the science

Comment: Why should I trust science ahead of other knowledge?

Open vs Blinded Peer-Review.

Comment: Should peer review be open or blinded?

RACGP - Your questions about complementary medicines answered.

Comment: This first article in a series providing evidence-based answers to common questions about complementary medicines from consumers and healthcare professionals.

Study shows HPV vaccine saves lives.

Comment: Australia's mass HPV vaccination program is working and saving lives, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. The population-based study shows women who are fully vaccinated are far less likely to develop cervical cancer than other women.

Research: Effectiveness of quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine for the prevention of cervical abnormalities: case-control study nested within a population based screening programme in Australia

Meningococcal B vaccine: The shot that could save your babies life:

Comment: The highly respected Medical Letter for Drugs and Therapeutics publishes a blog that is accessible free of charge. It it written primarily for health professionals, but many of its articles are readily understandable by others. Its timely topics include electronic cigarettes, antihistamines for colds, the new lipid-lowering drug guidelines, and FDA warnings about dietary supplements for weight loss.

Measuring mythology: Startling concepts in NCCAM grants.

Comment: Driven by misinformation, in 1992 Congress mandated funding of complementary and alternative medicine by establishing an Office at the National Institutes of Health with an initial budget of two million dollars. This office metamorphosed into a center with yearly funding comparable to the National Institutes of Health’s well-established research centers. This study examines the last nearly twenty years of grant awards by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Belief beyond the evidence: using the proposed effect of breakfast on obesity to show 2 practices that distort scientific evidence.

Comment: This is a good example of people actually going to great lengths to seek the evidence about a commonly believed misconception.

A single cure for cancer? - Freddy Sitas

Comment: Rumour has it there is a single cure for cancer locked away from those who need it. This is one of the most common cancer myths people search for online. But, how can this be? Cancer is not one, but hundreds of diseases. There may be no magic pill for all cancers, but prevention, detection and treatment for most cancer types is evolving, improving and saving thousands of Australians each year.

Explainer:- what is epigenetics?

Comment: An easy to read article on epigenetics and the inheritance of stable states that is important in normal development, in disease, in ageing and in explaining wondrous things such as zebra’s stripes and butterflies' wings. Research in the broader world of epigenetics will provide fascinating and important insights for many years to come.

Cancer Council Australia : Position Statement - Complementary and alternative Therapies:

Comment: A most comprehensive and credible document by the peak Australian, body the Cancer Council, highlights the very few benefits and the significant dangers of CAMs in cancer therapy.

Using and abusing evidence in science and health policy:

Comment: This is a series of articles that  investigates how evidence is used in a variety of health and science policy domains, specifically considering the ways in which it is has been used (or misused) and represented (or misrepresented) in relevant laws, policies and regulations, in addition to the numerous challenges and barriers to its use in policy development. Articles published in this series were invited from delegates at the meeting "Using and Abusing Evidence in Science and Health Policy" held in Canada in 2012.

A letter to the TEDx community on TEDx and bad science:

Comment: This letter gives clarification of what constitutes good and bad science.

From trust us we’re doctors to the rise in evidence-based medicine:

Comment: The birth of EBM, which now combines both systematic reviews and meta-analysis, was both painful and protracted. This tells us much about the nature of medicine and the identity of medical practitioners.

What is (and what isn’t) clinical evidence, and why is the distinction important?

Comment: Prof Edzard Ernst discusses the role of clinicians where reliable scientific evidence and experience should be used to maximize the benefits of both placebo and their medicines, to helping patients.

Beginning of the end for cancer?:

Comment: The first results of the most comprehensive genetic survey of cancer ever to be undertaken by an international consortium of researchers have just started to come in. The consortium is mapping mutations of different types of cancers with the aim of better targeting treatment and may mean that cancer's reign as one of our most devastating diseases may be over sooner rather than later.

How do we know what works? Systematic research reviews:

Comment: Systematic reviews are essential for making sense of research and helping consumers, practitioners and policy makers identify what works or doesn’t work. They also have a vital role in identifying uncertainties and priorities for future research.

Against Homeopathy - a utilitarian perspective*:

Comment: Kevin R Smith, a senior lecturer at Abertay University in Scotland, balances the therapy’s potential benefits of non-invasiveness, cost-effectiveness, holism, placebo effects, and agent autonomy against failure to seek effective health care, wastage of resources, promulgation of false beliefs and weakening of commitment to scientific medicine. Smith concludes that “homeopathy is ethically unacceptable and ought to be actively rejected by health care professionals.

The role of anecdotes in science-based medicine; (US):

Comment: Dr. Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine and is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society. He also acts as the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He is also a senior fellow and Director of Science-Based Medicine at the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and a founding fellow of the Institute for Science in Medicine.

Comment: A complete PhD thesis on why people go to CAMs. A scholarly work with relevant resources.

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance: Homeopathic vaccination fact sheet*:

Comment: There is no scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies in preventing or lessening vaccine side effects.

Integration of complementary and alternative medicine information and advice in chronic disease management guidelines*:

Comment: Addresses the role of GPs in advising patients on the potential problems with CAMs.

History of Medicine and its adversaries:

In 1886, Ludwig Bucks compiled a list of unregistered practitioners, which provides an insight into the wide scope of Australian alternative practitioners of the 19th century.  These included hydropathists, electrotherapists, homeopaths, oculists, phrenologists, chemists, herbalists, makers of patent medicine and vendors of books and pamphlets.

Richard Dawkins:

Enemies of Reason Episode 1 (1 of 5) - YouTube

(*) These are .pdf files, click on the name to download.


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