Archive for June 18th, 2010

The Onion: Teach the Controversy

| June 18, 2010 | Reply
The Onion: Teach the Controversy

The Onion reports that a new Kansas Court decision requires public schools to teach both sides of the controversy:


Christian Groups: Biblical Armageddon Must Be Taught Alongside Global Warming

If you want to display your opinion that we should teach the controversy, you can also buy one of these t-shirts from Teach the Controversy.

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Are modern anti-depressants merely placebos?

| June 18, 2010 | Reply
Are modern anti-depressants merely placebos?

At Discover Magazine, psychologist Irving Kirsch argues that the current generation of anti-depressants don’t really address specific chemical imbalances. He argues that they function at all because they are placebos:

[Current anti-depressants such as Prozac] all have different and in some cases opposite effects on brain chemistry, and yet they all show exactly the same response rate. It’s uncanny! That suggests it’s really the placebo effect that is helping the patients. In practice, all the different antidepressants have the same response rate. In a population of depressed people, they all work equally well. If they were actually correcting chemical imbalances, it would mean that the exact same number of people who are depressed have each kind of chemical imbalance: The proportion of people who have too much serotonin is exactly the same as the fraction who don’t have enough norepinephrine. The odds against that are astronomical.

I hope this makes it clear that I’m an equal opportunity skeptic. I don’t merely pick on alternative, fringe and fraudulent treatments (e.g., homeopathy).

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