Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday Stories: Simon Singh, Infographics and Food Allergies

Fascinating interview with Simon Singh, the science writer who was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association following his critical remarks.

The Atlantic's Megan McArdle with a masterful takedown of infographics.

Science Based Medicine's Scott Gavura explains why food intolerance/allergy testing is pure quackery.

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  1. Roman Korol7:06 pm

    Scott Gavura's article in Science-Based Medicine on the quackery behind Food Intolerance/Allergy testing is thorough and convincing. But, as one afflicted with food intolerance and searching for a way forward, I wonder: what does medicine offer, in counterpoint to the quacks, for those so afflicted? When I asked that question of my doctor during a recent medical appointment I was told, listen to your body . . . and do what it says . . . next question!

    Eh? Is that superior to quackery? So, to which kind of professional exactly should one turn?

    1. Hi Roman,

      No question sometimes medicine doesn't have answers with evidence behind them.

      Generally with food intolerances I'd be recommending elimination diets and careful food diarizing to try to identify patterns.

      Were there "scientific" tests, I'd order them, but aside from gluten and lactose, there's not much I can test for.

      True allergies are of course different, but intolerances are definitely not something medicine's particularly good at.

    2. Roman Korol9:44 pm

      Thank you kindly, I was unaware this field was so un-researched that the tools to deal with it were so few! On the question of eliminating troublesome foods, in cases where there's a whole slew of them the nutrients provided by such foods need to be replaced at least in part, as you know, by supplements that the body can absorb. It doesn't suffice just to "listen to your body". Again in this aspect, the aspect of ensuring healthy nutrition under complex circumstances, competent advice for the layman is indispensable. At present, however, my recent experience suggests there is a void. It would seem, from Mr. Gavura's article, that the void is being filled by others who are remote from the medical realm and its ethics.

    3. Quacks slither in where medicine does not (yet) have an answer. They often use this foothold to lever their ways into areas where medicine *does* have an answer, sometimes to the permanent detriment of those who get taken in.