As most scientists learn the hard way, not all research studies are equal. It is not always easy, however, for members of the public to discern between a well-crafted study and a flawed one, especially when reading the sensationalized Cliff Notes appearing on the news.
Dr. Steven Novella, neurologist and host of the fantastic weekly podcast The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, takes a recent study to court (and its associated New York Times headline which states that “Acupuncture, Real or Not, Eases Side Effects of Cancer Drugs”) and shows how logical fallacies can be harnessed to sell a lie.
In the small trial, both the acupuncture arm and the placebo arm were associated with improvement. Dr. Novella writes,
“While accurate, it is misleading, which gets back to the core fallacy of recent acupuncture promotion. When the treatment and control groups, in a blinded comparison, show no difference, the…
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