Bad science Medicine Politics Popular culture Science

What leads to trust or mistrust of scientists and physicians?

Given all the denial of the science behind vaccines, GMOs, evolution, and climate science, you might think that Americans in general distrust scientists and physicians. It’s actually not true. Trust in scientists and doctors remains high, but there are still areas where mistrust of scientists is a significant problem. What can be done?

Medicine Popular culture Science Skepticism/critical thinking Surgery

Do medical errors really kill a quarter of a million people a year in the US? (2019 edition)

The claim that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US has always rested on very shaky evidence; yet it’s become common wisdom that is cited as though everyone accepts it. But if estimates of 250,000 to 400,000 deaths due to medical error are way too high, what is the real number? A study published last month suggests that it’s almost certainly a lot lower and has been modestly decreasing since 1990.

Cancer Clinical trials Medicine Popular culture Science Skepticism/critical thinking

MuTaTo: Is an Israeli company within a year of a “complete cure for cancer”?

MuTaTo, a technology hyped by an Israeli company, was all over the news a couple of days ago as the “complete cure for cancer.” But is it? There are so many red flags in the news reports as to raise serious doubts, and the media’s science communication in this case has been an epic fail.

Antivaccine nonsense Autism Bad science Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Science Skepticism/critical thinking

Vaxelis: The first hexavalent vaccine is approved in the US, and antivaxers don’t like it

Over the holidays, on the day after Christmas, Merck and Sanofi announced FDA approval of Vaxelis, a new hexavalent vaccine. It’s great news for children. Unsurprisingly, antivaxers hate it.

Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Popular culture Pseudoscience Quackery Science Skepticism/critical thinking

The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was caused by an experimental vaccine? A conspiracy theory I hadn’t heard of before…

In this installment of Conspiracy Theory Bingo, Kevin Barry blames the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 on an experimental vaccine. Yes, Mr. Barry lets the conspiracy mongering and antivaccine tropes flow as he “investigates” the influenza pandemic of 1918. Being the antivaccine crank that he is, he concludes that the influenza virus didn’t cause the disease that killed over 50 million people a hundred years ago. No! It was—of course—an experimental meningitis vaccine that caused bacterial pneumonia in Army recruits. Let’s just say that there are numerous holes in Barry’s claims.