Jerry Addler has published his New Year’s resolution in Newsweek,
I will not report on any amazing new treatments for anything, unless they were tested in large, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials published in high-quality peer-reviewed medical journals. If that means not telling NEWSWEEK’s readers about, say, a new magnetized-water cure for osteoporosis, cancer and autism—well, there are infomercials to fill that gap. The risk that I might overlook the next Lipitor is outweighed by the danger of hyping the next laetrile, the discredited 1970s-era miracle cancer drug made from apricot pits that failed to cure Steve McQueen.
educate journalists and the public that “just because someone with a Ph.D. or M.D. performs a clinical trial doesn’t mean that [it] possesses any credibility whatsoever … The vast majority are worse than worthless.”
researchers, even those without a direct financial stake in the outcome of a trial, often have a psychological investment in what they’re testing. Their papers get published because the editors of journals in fields like homeopathy start from the premise that the whole thing isn’t a preposterous hoax, as Bausell and most mainstream doctors believe. If someone really does cure cancer—whether a drug company researcher or a Tibetan herbalist—The New England Journal of Medicine or The Journal of the American Medical Association will be happy to publish the news.