What We’re Reading


It’s the lazy days of summer, folks. We’re thinking skeptically, but let’s just say we’ve been, well, distracted. Here’s what we’ve been reading, dockside.


Homeopathic manufacturer Boiron is threatening to sue an Italian blogger regarding the homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum, claiming posts are “defamatory”  Here’s his blog, translated into English. In yet another example of the Streisand Effect, this has created significant media interest and traffic to the site.

This is an important case to monitor. As Melany pointed out recently, Boiron is being sued in California for fraud and unfair competition because of their homeopathic remedy Coldcalm, which contains no active ingredients. (A summary of the product can be found here). Here’s the case [PDF]. The intro summarizes the plaintiff’s argument:

Defendants are defrauding Californians by claiming that a tablet called “Children’s Coldcalm” pellets will provide relief from: sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, sinus pain, headaches, and sore throat.

These assertions would be welcomed by many if they were accurate, but the claims are absolutely false. The product is nothing more than a sugar tablet. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit to enjoin ongoing deceptions and to recover the profits generated by the false and misleading claims.

Boiron tried to quash this action, but that has been thrown out. This is one class action lawsuit to watch.

Skeptic North bloggers have written about homeopathy, Oscillococcinum or Boiron several times. Here are some highlights:

Climate Change

In the same vein as Mitchell’s recent Are Hybrids Worth It? check out Slate’s Two Wheels vs. Four: How far do I have to ride my bike to pay back its carbon footprint?.

Health and Medicine

Also from Slate, we liked the excellent article The Doctor and the Pomegranate:
Antioxidants don’t work, but no one wants to hear it.

Think organic food is healthier, better for the environment, or free of pesticides? Check out Christie Wilcox’s excellent post Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture and her follow-up in response to criticism, In the immortal words of Tom Petty: “I won’t back down”.

Geeking out on Statistics

Ben Goldacre describes why controlling for confounders is essential.

Bird Psychology

Are Birds Smarter Than Mathematicians? Pigeons (Columba livia) Perform Optimally on a Version of the Monty Hall Dilemma. [PDF] More on the Monty Hall Dilemma.


Photo from Flickr user rocketlass under a CC Licence.





2 Responses to “What We’re Reading”


  1. [...] be found in the British Medical Journal, sciencebasedmedicine, boingboing, butterfliesandwheels, skepticnorth, expatpaul and aboutkitty – to name just a few English language [...]

  • Scott Gavura

    Scott is passionate about improving the way drugs are used. A pharmacist by background, Scott has a professional interest in improving the cost-effective use of drugs at the population level, while helping consumers make more informed decisions about their health. He blogs about pharmacy practice and questionable science at Science-Based Pharmacy and Science-Based Medicine. All views expressed by Scott are his personal views alone, and do not represent the opinions of any current or former employers, or any organizations or associations that he may be affiliated with. All information is provided for discussion purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for consultation with a licensed and accredited health professional.