Battling bad science

He’s back… Watch Dr. Ben Goldacre‘s irreverent and brilliant explanation of why those industry-funded miracle cure headlines can be so appallingly wrong – yes, even when the science is done by those with the letters M.D. after their names.

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Dr. Ben Goldacre’s rapid-fire story of the ‘Nocebo Effect’

You know, of course, about the placebo effect, in which patients report positive results from taking a mere sugar pill.  Turns out there is also something called a nocebo effect, too.  This is defined as a negative placebo effect. It happens, for example, when patients take medications and actually experience adverse side effects unrelated to any specific pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is associated with a person’s prior expectations of adverse effects from the treatment. In other words, if we expect a treatment to hurt us, cause harm, or make us feel sick – it likely will.

The U.K.’s bright and brainy Dr. Ben Goldacre of Bad Science describes this phenomenon in this short but entertaining presentation from last year’s irreverent Nerdstock tour (“Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People).   Continue reading

British surgeon threatened with lawsuit for daring to question ‘Boob Job’ cream

According to The Guardian, a prominent British plastic surgeon named Dr. Dalia Nield of The London Clinic has been threatened with a libel action by the manufacturer of a cosmetic cream because she publicly questioned whether it worked as the company claimed. Dr. Nield had also told a newspaper reporter: “The manufacturers are not giving us any information on tests they have carried out.” The company, Rodial Limited, claims that its £125 ($192 Cdn) Boob Job cream, if applied regularly, can increase a woman’s breast size by up to 8.4% within 56 days. According to the company’s website, here’s how Boob Job works:

“As your fat cells move around the body after eating, Boob Job ‘blocks’ the fat into the area where the product has been applied, so the bust and décolleté areas. You will see a gradual increase in cup size within 56 days as well as gaining an instant lifting and firming effect.”  Continue reading