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Bad science (dreaming of an evidence-based world)

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The flu vaccine isn't perfect — but that doesn't mean you should skip the shot. Trump's top health official traded tobacco stock while leading anti-smoking efforts. The Trump administration’s top public health official bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing tobacco use — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed. The stock was one of about a dozen new investments that Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made after she took over the agency’s top job, according to documents obtained by POLITICO.

Fitzgerald has since come under congressional scrutiny for slow walking divestment from older holdings that government officials said posed potential conflicts of interest. Story Continued Below Buying shares of tobacco companies raises even more flags than Fitzgerald’s trading in drug and food companies because it stands in such stark contrast to the CDC’s mission to persuade smokers to quit and keep children from becoming addicted.

“You don’t buy tobacco stocks when you are the head of the CDC. Fake news and distrust of science could lead to global epidemics. Raymond Biesinger Vaccines are one of the most important scientific inventions of all time, preventing millions of cases of disease every year and helping to consign once-deadly outbreaks to history. Yet these vital public-health tools are under threat from growing public mistrust in immunisation and the rise of so-called "fake news" drowning out expert voices. This "anti-vax" sentiment and pushback against scientific evidence threatens public health around the world, from measles outbreaks in the US and across Europe, prompting stricter vaccination laws, to persisting polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If this trend continues, 2018 could see a devastating resurgence of deadly diseases previously on the brink of eradication. In the Global Risk Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2013, two of the top three global risks were digital wildfires in a hyper-connected world and the dangers of human hubris on health. Seeing screen time differently. Untitled. After a Debacle, How California Became a Role Model on Measles. For the second time, researchers retract -- then republish -- a vaccine paper. Photo credit: Blake Patterson Two researchers with a troubled publication history about vaccine safety have withdrawn their third paper.

Along with several other co-authors, Christopher Shaw, of the University of British Columbia, and Lucija Tomljenovic, of the Neural Dynamics Research Group, recently withdrew a 2017 paper about a controversy over a tetanus vaccination program in Kenya. The paper has been republished in the same journal, adding another chapter to Shaw and Tomljenovic’s confusing record of publishing and withdrawing papers. The journal did not respond to our request for comment, but Shaw told Retraction Watch: We did withdraw it due to some editorial issues with the journal, but these now seem to be resolved and the article is back. To add to the confusion, the authors posted an addendum to the paper that explains why they withdrew it, but that has also been withdrawn from ResearchGate. Though already published, had been “sent… for another round of peer-review.” Kotaku. Systematic review shows no improvement in quality of mindfulness research in 16 years | Quick Thoughts.

Should we still take claims about mental health benefits of mindfulness with a grain of salt? A systematic review by one of mindfulness training’s key promoters suggests maybe so. Critics have been identifying the same weaknesses in mindfulness research for almost two decades. This review suggests little improvement in 16 years the quality of randomized trials for mental health problems. This study examined 171 articles reporting RCTs for: (a) active control conditions, (b) larger sample sizes, (c) longer follow-up assessment, (d) treatment fidelity assessment, (e) reporting of instructor training, (f) reporting of ITT samples. What was missed Whether articles reporting RCTs had appropriate disclosure of financial or other conflicts of interest. This article discloses authors’ interests.

Critic: You say financial interests or other investments in a treatment are a risk of bias. Not necessarily. The article Goldberg SB, Tucker RP, Greene PA, Simpson TL, Kearney DJ, Davidson RJ. Like this: Untitled. Letemps. How to Address the Epidemic of Lies in Politics. Study claims vaccines-autism link; scientists find fake data, have rage stroke – Ars Technica. A recent study linking a component of vaccines to signs of autism in mice is set for retraction after scientists thoroughly demolished the study’s design, methods, and analysis—and then, for good measure, spotted faked data. The original study, led by Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic of the University of British Columbia, suggested that aluminum in vaccines can alter immune responses and trigger the development of autism. (Aluminum adjuvants are used in some vaccines to boost protective immune responses.)

The study is just the latest in a long line of publications from the researchers who appear unwavering in their effort to reveal supposed neurotoxic effects of aluminum in vaccines even though dozens of studies have found no evidence of such toxicity. This isn’t the first time their work has drawn sharp criticism and a retraction; in fact, the researchers have been roundly criticized by peers, experts, and even the World Health Organization. Preregistration of clinical trials causes medicines to stop working! - Chris Blattman. Something must be done to combat this public health hazard. In 2000, the National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) began requiring that researchers publicly register their research analysis plan before starting their clinical trials. From a new PLOS paper: We identified all large NHLBI supported RCTs between 1970 and 2012 evaluating drugs or dietary supplements for the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular disease.17 of 30 studies (57%) published prior to 2000 showed a significant benefit of intervention on the primary outcome in comparison to only 2 among the 25 (8%) trials published after 2000 (χ2=12.2,df= 1, p=0.0005).

There has been no change in the proportion of trials that compared treatment to placebo versus active comparator. Industry co-sponsorship was unrelated to the probability of reporting a significant benefit. Pre-registration in clinical was strongly associated with the trend toward null findings. Hat tip @rlmcelreath. HVMN (Nootrobox) study: smart pill less effective than caffeine. Supplements like nootropics are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as they don't claim to prevent, cure or diagnose disease. Instead, they make vague-sounding claims around "wellness," using terms like "boosting productivity" or "promoting alertness.

" The claims they do make are thinly supported. As Dr. Candy Tsourounis, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNBC, there are "no randomized, controlled trials in human beings that show that these nootropics have any benefits above and beyond what we would see if someone were to follow a healthy diet and maintain regular exercise. " After years of research, Blokland is similarly convinced that these supplements, for the most part, do very little -- aside from a placebo effect. "Most of them just don't work," he explained. "This is sort of akin to the Soylent approach," said Ernesto Ramirez, head of research and development at health research start-up Fitabase.

Doctor wins 2017 John Maddox prize for countering HPV vaccine misinformation | Science. A Japanese doctor who has stood up to a campaign of misinformation around a common anti-cancer vaccine has won a prestigious prize for championing evidence in the face of hostility and personal threats. Riko Muranaka at Kyoto University was awarded the 2017 John Maddox prize on Thursday for her efforts to explain the safety of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine amid strong opposition from anti-vaccine activists and a small group of academics.

Muranaka was praised by colleagues for her courage and leadership as she endured insults, litigation and attempts to undermine her professional status as the HPV vaccine came under attack in Japan. While the jab is used without fuss in many countries, in Japan and some other nations, fears raised by campaigners have hit vaccine uptake rates. Britain has offered the HPV vaccine on its national immunisation program since 2008. Muranaka said sensational media coverage helped spread unfounded fears over the HPV vaccine across Japan. NHS tells Jeremy Hunt: Homeopathy on prescription should be 'blacklisted' because it doesn't work. Homeopathy and herbal remedies are among seven treatments which NHS bosses have told Jeremy Hunt to officially “blacklist” from prescriptions because of a lack of evidence about their effectiveness.

GPs will be asked not to prescribe them any more and to take patients off these treatments if they’re currently being prescribed on the NHS. The Health Secretary has previously been forced to defend his position on homeopathy after he signed an early day motion in support of the treatments on the NHS in 2007. He subsequently clarified he did this on behalf of a constituent while still a “young MP”, but as Health Secretary he “follows the evidence” on what works. In the British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s responses to NHS England’s report on low-value treatments, both organisations said homeopathy should be blacklisted.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also said multiple reviews had “showed no evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy”. The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math. The Supreme Court does not compute. Or at least some of its members would rather not. The justices, the most powerful jurists in the land, seem to have a reluctance — even an allergy — to taking math and statistics seriously. For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. This problem was on full display earlier this month, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Gill v. The metric at the heart of the Wisconsin case is called the efficiency gap. Four of the eight justices who regularly speak during oral arguments Justice Clarence Thomas famously abstains from speaking during oral arguments, except in extremely rare cases. voiced anxiety about using calculations to answer questions about bias and partisanship.

“What Roberts is revealing is a professional pathology of legal education.” We can only find four other instances of justices using the word. During the Gill v. So what can be done? The riskiest vaccine? The one that is not given. Blue Cell Dyslexia. « previous post | next post » An article about dyslexia appeared last week in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society B (“The [British] Royal Society's flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the fast publication and worldwide dissemination of high-quality research”).

A week is a long time in blog-years, I know, but impact of the article is rippling far and wide. The authors claim to have identified a visual basis for dyslexia: an anomaly involving the distribution of a type of receptor in a part of the retina. This anomaly may provide “the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities”, with “important implications in both fundamental and biomedical sciences.” They also seemed to demonstrate that the anomaly could be easily eliminated by changing lighting conditions. As might be expected, the media picked this up as scientists maybe having at long last found the cause of dyslexia. Here’s what they report, in brief. 1. 3.Impact on reading.

The Bad Science Behind PETA's Claim That Milk Might Cause Autism. Paul Glasziou and Iain Chalmers: Funders and regulators are more important than journals in fixing the waste in research – The BMJ. Funders and regulators have the principal power to implement most of the solutions needed to reduce research waste The current level of waste in health and medical research has been estimated to be over 85% of the nearly $200 billion annual global spend [1]. That amounts to around $500 million per day—equivalent to the annual budgets of several prestigious research institutes. That level of waste should be an international scandal. But it is hard to point a finger of blame at any single person, group, or entity. So who is responsible, and who may be able to “fix” the waste? Consider non-publication of studies, which consistently averages around 50% across countries, sectors, institutions, and study designs.

Of course there is much to do beyond clinical trials registration and reporting. The story of study registration illustrates that individuals from many sectors need to play a part. Competing interests: None declared. References: Boys are better at physics because they learn about 'projection' while going to the toilet, researchers say.

Dr Con Man: the rise and fall of a celebrity scientist who fooled almost everyone | Science. Scientific pioneer, superstar surgeon, miracle worker – that’s how Paolo Macchiarini was known for several years. Dressed in a white lab coat or in surgical scrubs, with his broad, handsome face and easy charm, he certainly looked the part. And fooled almost everyone. Macchiarini shot to prominence back in 2008, when he created a new airway for Claudia Castillo, a young woman from Barcelona. He did this by chemically stripping away the cells of a windpipe taken from a deceased donor; he then seeded the bare scaffold with stem cells taken from Castillo’s own bone marrow. Castillo was soon back home, chasing after her kids.

According to Macchiarini and his colleagues, her artificial organ was well on the way to looking and functioning liked a natural one. This was Macchiarini’s first big success. Meanwhile, Macchiarini’s career soared. Macchiarini was turning the dream of regenerative medicine into a reality. Last year, however, the dream soured, exposing an ugly reality. Perhaps teens are too cynical to benefit from mindfulness, say authors of latest negative school trial. By Christian Jarrett In the UK, more and more of our children are learning mindfulness at school. The Mindfulness in Schools project claims that over 4000 of our teachers are now trained in the practice. However, some experts are concerned that the roll-out of mindfulness has raced ahead of the evidence base, which paints a mixed picture. Following their recent failure to find any benefits of a school mindfulness programme for teenagers (contrary to some earlier more positive findings), a research team led by Catherine Johnson at Flinders University has now reported in Behaviour Research and Therapy the results of their latest school trial, which included new features in the mindfulness intervention, such as parental involvement and better designed homework materials, intended to maximise the programme’s effectiveness.

However, once again the mindfulness programme led to no observable benefits. These results may not surprise readers who are sceptical of all the hype around mindfulness. Kotaku. Systematic review shows no improvement in quality of mindfulness research in 16 years | Quick Thoughts. Do 41% of middle aged adults really walk for less than 10 minutes each month? | The Stats Guy. I was a little surprised when I heard the news on the radio this morning and heard that a new study had been published allegedly showing that millions of middle aged adults are so inactive that they don’t even walk for 10 minutes each month. The story has been widely covered in the media, for example here, here, and here. The specific claim is that 41% of adults aged 40 to 60 in England, or about 6 million people, do not walk for 10 minutes in one go at a brisk pace at least once a month, based on a survey by Public Health England (PHE). I tracked down the source of this claim to this report on the PHE website.

I found that hard to believe. Walking for just 10 minutes a month is a pretty low bar. Can it really be true that 41% of middle aged adults don’t even manage that much? Well, if it is, which I seriously doubt, then the statistic is at best highly misleading. I suppose that’s possible. I find it disappointing that a body like PHE is prioritising newsworthiness over honest science. No, combination vaccines don't overwhelm kids' immune systems. This site is “taking the edge off rant mode” by making readers pass a quiz before commenting. The Illusory Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Eating dependence and weight gain; no human evidence for a 'sugar-addiction' model of overweight. Lawyers for Boston University say NHL request will slow concussion research. Research Waste. Susana Rivas: a new research integrity scandal in French plant sciences – For Better Science. Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as 'unreliable' source | Technology. Acupuncture for low back pain no longer recommended for NHS patients | Science.

Trump Meets With Vaccine Skeptic, Discusses 'Committee on Vaccine Safety' - The Atlantic. Meat and tobacco: the difference between risk and strength of evidence | Science. New Mammogram Recommendations: A Guide. Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test | Science. The nappy science gang who took on the NHS | Science. Who has the most retractions? Introducing the Retraction Watch leaderboard. Critics: Women's Sex Pill Approval Vote Driven By PR, Not Science. I Sat In on My Son’s Sex-Ed Class, and I Was Shocked by What I Heard - Features. Games and social media: is there any scientific evidence for digital neglect? | Science.

Bad data PR: how the NSPCC sunk to a new low in data churnalism. Dodgy Election Leaflets: We’ve Fixed Those Graphs For You. The troubled history of the foreskin. Vaping among teenagers | The Stats Guy. Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds. Homeopathy and the ethics of researching magic. UK drew wrong conclusion from its neonicotinoids study, scientist says | Environment.

Astrology should never have any role to play in healthcare | Pete Etchells | Science. University suppressed study into racism on buses and 'victimised' its co-author | Australia news. FT Comment: Political ideas need proper testing. How can we corral data to reveal the big picture? | Ben Goldacre. The complete film - Why is science important? Claude Allègre: The Climate Imposter. Sabotage: postdoc fiddles with graduate student's cells. The Great Beyond: Duke geneticist resigns as investigation continues.

Biased but Brilliant, Science Embraces Pigheadedness. Is widespread sexism making hurricanes more deadly than himmicanes? | @BobOHara & @GrrlScientist | Science. The framing of scientists « Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings. Ape researcher suspended amid welfare concerns - life - 18 September 2012. Nversion therapy: she tried to make me 'pray away the gay' | World news. Stephen Jay Gould accused of fudging numbers. Bad Science. Whistle-blower claims his accusations cost him his job : Nature News. Wait, Maybe You Can't Feel the Future - Percolator. Formal investigation launched into work at dean's lab. Faking it. Misconduct in science: An array of errors. A French love affair... with graphology. Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs.

Thousands of lives put at risk by clinical trials system that is 'not fit for purpose' | Science. Disgraced Scientist Granted U.S. Patent for Work Found to be Fraudulent. Anti-vaxx insanity: New study highlights the dangers of science denialism. Guest post by Tara Haelle: If a 12-year-old's "breakthrough" sounds too good to be true... | KSJ Tracker | Knight Science Journalism at MIT. Why I'm feeling so crabby about cancer conspiracy theories | Cath Ennis | Science. My rejection of the National Marriage Project’s “Before ‘I Do’” Pharmaceutical industry gets high on fat profits.