Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

What Exactly Is the Placebo Effect?

We've probably all heard of the placebo effect, but what is it, and how does it work? For something that happens regularly, it's not all that well understood. A placebo is any substance that's not intended or expected to have any therapeutic effect. Ethically, it generally wouldn't be considered acceptable to give a patient a… Continue reading What Exactly Is the Placebo Effect?

flower blossoms and essential oil vials
Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Made-Up Vibrations: The Essential Oils Version

I'm a very science-minded person, and one of the things that really grates my rutabagas is when people make things up and call it science. In particular, I'm not impressed with made-up vibrations, and especially the made-up idea of vibrating thoughts, law of attraction style. Somehow, the notion of essential oils vibrating flew under my… Continue reading Made-Up Vibrations: The Essential Oils Version

Is psychic surgery a real thing? - graphic operating room staff
Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Is Psychic Surgery a Real Thing?

There are plenty of odd pseudoscientific health practices out there, but psychic surgery kicks it up to a whole new level of weird. Psychic surgery isn't like what happens in an operating room; it's more like what happens on a magician's stage. Sleight of hand, fake blood, and animal parts are used to make the… Continue reading Is Psychic Surgery a Real Thing?

Does your body need detoxing/cleansing? Or is your liver already on top of it?
Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Do You Need to Detox/Cleanse?

Detox diets and cleanses are quite popular these days, especially if you're of the Goop-y persuasion. And while they might seem to make sense on an intuitive level, from a science perspective, is there anything to actually back that up? The "toxins" Commercial detox products tend to refer vaguely to "toxins" without actually specifying what… Continue reading Do You Need to Detox/Cleanse?

Does adrenal fatigue exist? - diagram of HPA axis
Health & health care, Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

The term adrenal fatigue was first used by chiropractor James Wilson in 1998, and became popular with a book he published in 2001.  I've written before about some of the sketchy dabbling of chiropractors outside the neck and back pain issues we commonly associate them with.  You can probably guess from that alone where I'm… Continue reading Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

nurse administering intramuscular injection
Health & health care, Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

How Vaccines Work (and What That Means for COVID-19)

While COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, and there's still much to be learned about the virus and the illness, coming up with a vaccine doesn't mean totally reinventing the wheel.  How vaccines work is based on knowledge about how the immune system works, and the immune system doesn't abruptly change just because a… Continue reading How Vaccines Work (and What That Means for COVID-19)

Health & health care, Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

What’s This Curve We’re Flattening?

In the age of COVID-19, everyone keeps talking about flattening or bending the curve.  But what the heck kind of curve are they talking about? Epidemiology looks at the patterns of diseases across populations.  This is a fundamental part of public health.  Epidemiological curves, also known as epidemic curves or epi curves, are used to… Continue reading What’s This Curve We’re Flattening?

Tips on how to spot fake news
Health & health care, Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Separating Reality from Fake Health News

HoIFLA, Wikimedia Commons During this global pandemic, there's a lot of wild and wacky news out there in the world.  This infographic from the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions gives some handy tips for separating the facts from the crap.  In this post, I'll go through those tips with respect to spotting fake… Continue reading Separating Reality from Fake Health News

multicoloured chakras with a lotus design
Mental health, Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Are Chakras Real or Pseudoscience?

Have you aligned your chakras today?  Or perhaps you've wondered if the whole chakra craze is a bit over the top.  And maybe you can guess what my take on the matter is. Traditional concept of chakras The concept of chakras first emerged in India in the first century BCE, in Hindu and then later… Continue reading Are Chakras Real or Pseudoscience?

Health & health care, Science, pseudoscience, & media literacy

Is Chiropractic What It Claims To Be?

Spine Logo vector created by roserodionova - http://www.freepik.com Let's say your back hurts.  You go to a chiropractor, over a few visits they crack a few joints, and that's all she wrote, right?  That's certainly what I used to think about chiropractic.  The thing is, though, there's some modern back cracking practice built on some… Continue reading Is Chiropractic What It Claims To Be?