Medescape

Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Back From The Dead

Ok, so it has been a while since I last posted, but there was the Christmas holiday, and the beginning of a new term etc. But never mind that, the important thing is that the blog is back! Or rather, I’m back! 

Since I last posted there has been some cool news items, so I thought I should start this years blogging by bringing up a few of them.

Well, first of all, the voting for this years Weblog Awards just closed, and I am appalled by who won in the science category. There were some great nominees there, like Bad Astronomy, Pharyngula and Neurologica. These are all fantastic science blogs, but do you think any of them won? Oh no, the winner this year was this horrible, horrible global warming denial blog. That is just sad… 

Just today I read about a cool study in the Journal of Proteome Research. Some scientists in Italy have found abnormal proteins in the saliva of autistic patients, and the hope is that this will eventually give us some clue about the pathological biochemical processes of autism. Also, it could potentially be used as a biomarker in saliva-based autism tests. 

Now, this next one is a sad story, but it is a good example of why evidence-based medicine really should be the only kind of medicine. Russel Jenkins is, or rather was, a healer in Australia. One day, he stepped on an electrical plug in his house, and the small resulting wound later became infected. Even worse, the infection then turned gangrenous. Gangrene is a horrible condition of necrosis of body tissue. It looks really bad, and smells even worse. Instead of seeking medical help, Russel, being a healer, decided he would treat his condition by applying honey to the affected area. Naturally, this did not work out so well, and he later died from the gangrenous infection. 

This is of course an extremely sad story, but I think it is important to emphasize the importance of evidence-based medicine. I really don’t care much for the term Complementary and Alternative Modalities (CAM), because then it sounds like it is a scientific alternative to conventional medicine, which it isn’t. I can not stress this fact enough, that alternative medicine really is just a collection of inadequately tested and unproven drugs. And calling it complementary? A lot of people fail to tell their doctors that they are using these alternative remedies, and a result of that could be that they interfere with their conventional treatments. Because, as I said, they are drugs. Calling them natural is just a sales pitch. 

Ok, so the first post of 2009 turned out to be somewhat of a downer. But the next one will be positive! Promise.

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January 13, 2009 Posted by | General Science, General Skepticism, Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Voyage Into Space

I stumbled upon this news item in Phil Plait’s blog, and it is extremely cool. The European Southern Observatory, or ESO, just released the deepest ultraviolet image of the Universe yet. It was taken by the Very Large Telescope (yes, that is it’s name, and it’s really a set of four telescopes working together, namely the Antu telescope, the Kueyen telescope, the Melipal telescope, and the Yepun telescope), and contains more than 27 million pixels.

    

This is a compressed version of the image, so for full resolution go here. When I first saw this picture i thought all the bright dots were stars, but no, they are in fact galaxies. Some of them are as far as 10 billion light years away, which means they are really, really young. I recommend you take a look at Phil Plait’s post about this picture. Being an astronomer he knows what he’s talking about, something I really don’t most of the time.

November 8, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Amaz!ng Meeting

For those who do not know, The Amaz!ng Meeting, or TAM, is an annual skeptical meeting held by the James Randi Educational Foundation, or JREF. Also commonly referred to as “nerdvana”, it is a 4-day event with tons of lectures and skeptical festivities. Last years TAM included lectures from Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, PZ Myers, Matthew Chapman, Sharon Begley, Phil Plait, Penn & Teller, Richard Saunders, Dr. Richard Wiseman, Dr. Michael Shermer, Adam Savage and Steven Novella. Next years TAM (TAM 7) will take place in Las Vegas at the South Point Hotel and Casino from July 9 – July 12 2009. It will most likely be a hoot. I know I would be going if I lived in the states…sigh… Anyways, more information about TAM, and also the Amaz!ng Adventures, can be found here

The amazing James Randi

November 5, 2008 Posted by | General Skepticism, Other | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment