Science-Based Medicine

Science-Based Medicine is a website and blog with articles covering issues in science and medicine, especially medical scams and practices.[2] Founded in 2008, it is owned and operated by the New England Skeptical Society[3] and run by Steven Novella, David Gorski, and Harriet Hall.[4]

Science-Based Medicine
Science-Based Medicine logo.png
Science-Based Medicine home page screenshot.png
Type of site
Available inEnglish
OwnerNew England Skeptical Society
Key peopleSteven Novella, David Gorski, and Harriet Hall
LaunchedJanuary 1, 2008[1]


Started as a skeptically-based medical blog with five writers, Science-Based Medicine (SBM) launched on January 1, 2008.[5] Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist at Yale University,[2][6] Harriet Hall,[7][8] and David Gorski were founding editors, along with Mark Crislip[9] and Kimball Attwood.[10][11]

Science-Based Medicine is owned an operated by the New England Skeptical Society (NESS),[3] where Novella, the long-standing executive editor of SBM, has also served as the president since inception. Gorski, a surgical oncologist at Wayne State University, serves as the managing editor for SBM.[12][13][14]

The Science-Based Medicine blog is affiliated with the Society for Science-Based Medicine (SfSBM),[15] an opinionated education and advocacy group,[16] that registered in 2014[17] as a Florida nonprofit corporation[16][18] led by Mark Crislip.[19] The SfSBM was later absorbed into the Center for Inquiry in 2020, following a period of time where the society had merged with SBM.[20]

Other key contributors have included writer Paul Ingram (2010 - 2016) and Wallace Sampson, an editor and regular contributor to SBM until his death in 2017.[21] Crislip and Attwood have both retired.[22]

Content and formatEdit

Science-Based Medicine is a website in blog format that examines controversies in science and medicine,[23] especially medical scams and practices.[2] SBM is known for persistently challenging alternative medicine[24][25][9] and for opposing university funding from advocates of integrative medicine.[26] David Freedman, writing for The Atlantic in 2011, described SBM as "an influential blog that has tirelessly gone after alternative medicine."[24]

Editorial staff say that the best medicine is based on scientific principles, includes prior plausibility, and is not based on evidence alone.[21] Gorski, Novella, and Atwood have argued that science-based medicine differs in focus from evidence-based medicine[27][11] and stress that randomized clinical trials should only be conducted when warranted by ample preclinical evidence to justify the effort, time, and expenses involved.[27] For a science-based approach, Novella supports minimizing or eliminating research on implausible treatments, and points out that decades are often required for clinical research to become supported by rigorous, conclusive trials, during which time decisions must be made, preferably guided by and screened by plausibility criteria.[19]

In a systematic survey of web sites providing material on complementary and alternative medicine from 2018, medical education researcher Annie Chen and colleagues list Science-Based Medicine alongside WebMD as an example of an "information service" providing articles on health and illness.[28]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Science-Based Medicine collected and debunked misinformation that had spread through social media, such as the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines could cause infertility.[29]


On June 15, 2021,[22][30] Science-Based Medicine published a book review of Abgail Shrier's Irreversible Damage written by founding editor Harriet Hall.[31] Hall's review expressed that Shrier's book had raised legitimate concerns about the science surrounding drug treatments for Gender dysphoria in children where a lack of quality scientific studies made it extremely difficult to arive at a conclusion.[31] Within days, Novella and Gorski replaced the review with a retraction notice[4][32] and responded with a review of their own, the first of six SBM posts rejecting Shrier's claims and addressing the retraction.[22]

SBM was criticized by several writers,[4][22] among them SBM editor emeritus Kimball Atwood[22] and journalist Jesse Singal,[22][33] for SBM's coverage of the science involved in the youth gender medical debate, for Novella and Gorski's retraction of Hall's original article, and for the factual inaccuracy of the follow-up articles that contained errors, misrepresentations and half-truths.[4][22]

Skeptic magazine republished Hall's review[34] and she remaines as one of the three editors at SBM along with Novella and Gorski after the retraction.[4]


In 2014, Novella was sued by Edward Tobinick,[16] a doctor claiming to treat neurological diseases, over two blog posts on Science-Based Medicine critical of off-label use of the drug Etanercept by Tobinick's medical clinic.[35] The lawsuit, filed by Tobinick against Steven Novella, the Society for Science-Based Medicine, Inc., and SGU Productions, LLC was resolved after the court ruled in favor of Novella.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Announcing the Science-Based Medicine Blog". Science-Based Medicine. January 1, 2008. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c McNamee, David (August 22, 2014). "Why is scientific literacy among the general population important?". Medical News Today. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Gorski, David (August 17, 2020). "Announcement: The Society for Science-Based Medicine is becoming part of the Center for Inquiry". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e Williams, Nathan (August 25, 2021). "Ideology-based medicine". The Critic. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  5. ^ Plait, Phil (January 12, 2008). "Medical blog now online". Slate Magazine. Retrieved June 25, 2022.
  6. ^ Stein, Rob (April 20, 2015). "FDA Ponders Putting Homeopathy To A Tougher Test". NPR. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Branswell, Helen (May 26, 2015). "Spurious Lyme disease 'cures' proliferate on web, study finds". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  8. ^ Robertson, Blair (May 18, 2016). "Despite safety benefits, there's no consensus on bike helmets". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Painter, Kim (July 17, 2016). "'Dry needling' for pain therapy is under scrutiny". USA Today. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Weber, Nina (August 18, 2011). "Asthma-Patienten: Placebo-Studie erzürnt US-Mediziner". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Lilienfeld, Scott (January 27, 2014). "Evidence-Based Practice: The Misunderstandings Continue". Psychology Today.
  12. ^ Harvey, Chelsea (January 27, 2016). "How cases like Flint destroy public trust in science". Washington Post. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  13. ^ Walker, Connie; Luke, Marnie (May 7, 2016). "Health Canada investigates Florida spa director's illegal supplements". CBC News. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  14. ^ Bradley, Fikes (January 4, 2016). "Most biomed studies irreproducible, reviews find". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  15. ^ Senapathy, Kavin (June 14, 2022). "Conquering Secular and Skeptical White Supremacy in America". The Humanist. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Volokh, Eugene (April 8, 2015). "Society for Science-Based Medicine is "media defendant" under Florida statute". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  17. ^ "Society For Science Based Medicine - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. May 9, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  18. ^ "Bylaws - Society for Science-Based Medicine". Retrieved June 26, 2022. records from the State of Florida confirming SfSBM as legally a non-for-profit corporation
  19. ^ a b Novella, Steven (May 1, 2015). "It's Time for Science-Based Medicine". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  20. ^ "SFSBM - Society for Science-Based Medicine". Retrieved June 26, 2022. As of 6/19 the Society is undergoing reorganization with a merger with Science-Based Medicine.
  21. ^ a b "Editors". Science-Based Medicine. August 18, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Willing, Steven (October 21, 2021). "Sacrificing Science on the Altar of Transgenderism: How a Respected Scientific Source Betrayed its Core Values". Christian Medical & Dental Associations. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  23. ^ Johannes, Laura (May 19, 2014). "Will Getting Grounded Help You Sleep Better and Ease Pain?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 23, 2016. says Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and executive editor of the blog Science-Based Medicine, which looks at controversies in science and medicine.
  24. ^ a b Freedman, David H. (July 2011). "The Triumph of New-Age Medicine". The Atlantic. Novella is a highly respected Yale neurologist, and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, an influential blog that has tirelessly gone after alternative medicine.
  25. ^ Horgan, John (May 16, 2016). "Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More". Scientific American. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  26. ^ Seltzer, Rick (September 26, 2017). "UC Irvine under scrutiny for taking $200 million for school of health from couple some say back junk science". Inside Higher Education. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Experts denounce clinical trials of unscientific, 'alternative' medicines". ScienceDaily. Cell Press. August 20, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  28. ^ Chen AT, Taylor-Swanson L, Buie RW, Park A, Conway M (October 2018). "Characterizing Websites That Provide Information About Complementary and Integrative Health: Systematic Search and Evaluation of Five Domains". Interact J Med Res. 7 (2): e14. doi:10.2196/ijmr.9803. PMC 6231734. PMID 30305254.
  29. ^ Weinzierl MA, Harabagiu SM (December 2021). "Automatic detection of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation with graph link prediction". J Biomed Inform. 124: 103955. doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2021.103955. PMC 8598278. PMID 34800722.
  30. ^ Hall, Harriet. "Book Review: Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, by Abigail Shrier". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  31. ^ a b Williams, Nathan (August 25, 2021). "Ideology-based medicine". The Critic. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  32. ^ Novella, Steven; Gorski, David (June 30, 2021). "The Science of Transgender Treatment". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  33. ^ Singal, Jesse (July 18, 2021). "Science-Based Medicine Botched Youth Gender Debate". RealClear Science.
  34. ^ Hall, Harriet. "Trans Science: A review of Abigail Shrier's Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters". Skeptic. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  35. ^ Kaplan, Alex; Pang, Evelyn (March 31, 2017). "No Scrubs Permitted: Eleventh Circuit Affirms Blog Post Is Not Advertising Actionable Under Lanham Act". Lexology. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  36. ^ "Another Free Speech Win In Libel Lawsuit Disguised As A Trademark Complaint". Above the Law. February 24, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2022.

External linksEdit