Mind the Brain

A science-based medicine skeptic struggles with his as-yet medically unexplained pain and resists alternative quack treatments

Paul: “For three years I kept my faith that relief had to be just around the corner, but my disappointment is now as chronic as my pain. Hope has become a distraction.”

“It’s certainly not bareknuckle:” Comments to a journalist about a critique of mindfulness research

We can't assume authors of mindfulness studies are striving to do the best possible science, including being prepared for the possibility of being proven incorrect by their results.

Creating illusions of wondrous effects of yoga and meditation on health: A skeptic exposes tricks

The tour of the sausage factory is starting, here’s your brochure telling you’ll see.   A recent review has received a lot of attention with it being used for claims that mind-body interventions have distinct molecular signatures that point to potentially dramatic health benefits for those who take up these practices. What Is the Molecular … Continue reading "Creating illusions of wondrous effects of yoga and meditation on health: A skeptic exposes tricks"

No, JAMA Internal Medicine, acupuncture should not be considered an option for preventing migraines.

….And no further research is needed. These 3 excellent articles provide some background for my blog, but their titles alone are worth leading with: Acupuncture is astrology practice with needles. Acupuncture: 3000 studies and more research is not needed. Acupuncture is  theatrical placebo. Each of these articles helps highlights an important distinction between an evidence-based … Continue reading "No, JAMA Internal Medicine, acupuncture should not be considered an option for preventing migraines."

1 billion views! Why we should be concerned about PR campaign for 2 RCTs of psilocybin for cancer patients

According to the website of an advocacy foundation, coverage of two recent clinical trials published in in Journal of Psychopharmacology evaluating psilocybin for distress among cancer patients garnered over 1 billion views in the social media. To put that in context, the advocacy group claimed that this is one sixth of the attention that the … Continue reading "1 billion views! Why we should be concerned about PR campaign for 2 RCTs of psilocybin for cancer patients"

Unintended consequences of universal mindfulness training for schoolchildren?

This is the first installment of what will be a series of occasional posts about the UK Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group report,  Mindful Nation. Mindful Nation is seriously deficient as a document supposedly arguing for policy based on evidence. The professional and financial interests of lots of people involved in preparation of the document … Continue reading "Unintended consequences of universal mindfulness training for schoolchildren?"

COBRA study would have shown homeopathy can be substituted for cognitive behavior therapy for depression

If The Lancet COBRA study had evaluated homeopathy rather than behavioural activation (BA), homeopathy would likely have similarly been found “non-inferior” to cognitive behavior therapy. This is not an argument for treating depression with homeopathy, but an argument that the 14 talented authors of The Lancet COBRA study stacked the deck for their conclusion that … Continue reading "COBRA study would have shown homeopathy can be substituted for cognitive behavior therapy for depression"

Relaxing vs Stimulating Acupressure for Fatigue Among Breast Cancer Patients: Lessons to be Learned

A chance to test your rules of thumb for quickly evaluating clinical trials of alternative or integrative  medicine in prestigious journals. A chance to increase your understanding of the importance of  well-defined control groups and blinding in evaluating the risk of bias of clinical trials. A chance to understand the difference between merely evidence-based treatments … Continue reading "Relaxing vs Stimulating Acupressure for Fatigue Among Breast Cancer Patients: Lessons to be Learned"

Creating the illusion that mindfulness improves the survival of cancer patients

A demonstration of just how unreliable investigators’ reports of mindfulness studies can be. Exaggerations of efficacy combined with self-contradiction in the mindfulness literature pose problems for any sense being made of the available evidence by patients, clinicians, and those having responsibility for clinical and public policy decisions. Despite thousands of studies, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) … Continue reading "Creating the illusion that mindfulness improves the survival of cancer patients"

Mindfulness research’s huge problem with uninformative control groups

Are enthusiasts protecting cherished beliefs about the power of mindfulness from disconfirmation? Do any advantages of mindfulness training disappear in a fairly matched cage fight with a treatment of comparable frequency and intensity? Very few of the 1000s of articles retrieved in a literature search with the keyword “mindfulness” represent advances in the limited evidence … Continue reading "Mindfulness research’s huge problem with uninformative control groups"

Hans Eysenck’s contribution to cognitive behavioral therapy for physical health problems: fraudulent data

The centenary of the birth of Hans Eysenck is being marked by honoring his role in bringing clinical psychology to the UK and pioneering cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). There is largely silence about his publishing fraudulent data, editorial misconduct, and substantial undeclared conflicts of interest. The articles in which Eysenck used fraudulent data are no … Continue reading "Hans Eysenck’s contribution to cognitive behavioral therapy for physical health problems: fraudulent data"