Pseudoscience Sunday

Fake science? Real science?

Critical thinking skills are important for everyone, especially when your money and health are involved.

Well, if your bullshit detector is on the fritz – or just has that not-so-fresh feeling – you’re in luck today. Two great articles – a blogpost and an old-fashioned print media piece – will set you on the straight and narrow.

First, Emily Willingham has a handy checklist and explainer to help regular folks distinguish between product and treatment claims made based on real science vs. fake science. This gem appears at the awesome new Double X Science blog, subtitled “Science, I am just that into you.”

Second, Chicago Tribune science and medical reporter Trine Tsouderos provides us with an in-depth analysis of research grants by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). I’ve been ambivalent about NCCAM, primarily because it covers such a wide spectrum of maladies and approaches. The major problem, though, is that it was established by political edict as an advocacy arm of NIH rather than a true, science-based organization. Some top-notch scientists have joined NCCAM as of late but there’s no doubt that its historical portfolio of grant support has quite a bit of nonsense.

These two pieces sort of go hand-in-hand. In fact, you might care to apply some of Emily’s questions to some of the projects supported by NCCAM.

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