ABOUT Kausik Datta

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When not vociferously debunking pseudoscience of various stripes, I have been known to count host immunity, host-pathogen interactions and pathogenesis of infectious disease caused by two mycopathogens, Aspergillus spp., and Cryptococcus spp., as well as general science communication, amongst my interests. My views, of course, are absolutely and irrevocably my own.


Kausik Datta: All Posts


Weird Lack of Proper Control in an Acupuncture Study Published in PLOS ONE

Posted 7 August 2015 by Kausik Datta

PLOS One seems to have done it again! I wrote a few days ago about how the peer review system at PLOS One seemed to give a free pass to acupuncture studies, when it came to seeking rigorous experimental evidence in support of the claims presented in the paper. I had shared the post via Twitter, and in response, someone from PLOS One had replied: @kausikdatta22 @scilogscom @gorskon @EpiRen Thanks for raising this. We have been looking into this study... Read more

Homeopathy – that “affordable”, “cost-saving” therapy? Not really, as the numbers say.

Posted 5 August 2015 by Kausik Datta

Classical homeopathy is scientifically implausible as a therapy, because there is no substance of any medicinal value left in the functionally-infinitely diluted nostrum. Naturally, there is no hard evidence supporting the therapeutic use of homeopathy, in terms of clinical benefit to the patient. Absent such support, homeopathy-peddlers generally push affordability and low cost as homeopathy's unique selling point (USP). A large retrospective cost-analysis study, based on nearly 45000 individual German patients, gives lie to that myth. In a paper published last week... Read more

Lax standards at PLOS One for peer review of CAM research papers?

Posted 30 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

Serious question: has the peer review system at the PLOS journals been doing a less-than-stellar job when it comes to evaluating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research for publication? If the answer is 'yes', why? Or if 'no', how does a paper like this go through PLOS ONE without some serious revisions? I refer to the systematic review and meta-analysis on effectiveness of acupuncture for essential hypertension, done by a group of researchers from the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese... Read more

2015 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science: nomination deadline fast approaching, August 20

Posted 28 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

A quick note today via a friend, Dr. Prateek Buch, the Policy Director of Evidence Matters. Do you know someone who has promoted sound science and evidence? Nominate them for the 2015 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science. The John Maddox Prize rewards an individual who has promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest. Its emphasis is on those who have faced difficulty or hostility in doing so. Do you know someone who stands... Read more

Vox Media Report On Pandemrix And Narcolepsy Misses A Key Highlight, Progress By Trial

Posted 28 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

I read with a great deal of interest a report on Vox by their science and health reporter Julia Belluz (@juliaoftoronto on Twitter) on the recently publicized story of Pandemrix, an H1N1 pandemic influenza (a.k.a. "Swine Flu") vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the condition of narcolepsy (a debilitating sleep disorder) that affected a small fraction of individuals who received this vaccine. The facts of the story are not in dispute. During the 2009-10 Swine Flu pandemic in Europe, GSK's... Read more

Best Friend, Indeed

Posted 24 July 2015 by Kausik Datta

I love dogs. I grew up in households with dogs, and feel very comfortable around most dogs. And they seem to return the feeling. This has happened not only with familiar pets in the households of friends and family, but also with strange, unfamiliar dogs under otherwise trying circumstances. Through my childhood and young adulthood, I lived in an enclosed residential area which happened to serve as a sort of shelter for many random stray or abandoned, ill-nourished and emaciated street-dogs... Read more

With This Scholarly Work, I Thee Wed…?

Posted 4 June 2015 by Kausik Datta

Beyond the white-coat, serious, severe image of scientists accentuated by popular media, underneath it all scientists are human beings, with human emotions, frailties, capacities for excellence, and occasional flashes of effulgent brilliance. Thanks to Twitter, I came across one such example today, and it made me recognize that fact again, with a great deal of pleasure. Dr. Caleb M. Brown (@Brown_Caleb_M on Twitter) is a scientist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada, studying dinosaur paleobiology and evolution. His... Read more

Authors of PLOS One Study on Benefits of Electro-Acupuncture Answer My Questions

Posted 4 May 2015 by Kausik Datta

Early last month, I communicated in a blog post a few questions I had about a study in Electro Acupuncture published in PLOS One. It took the authors a while to get to them, but the senior and corresponding author of that study, Professor Kai-Liang Wu, of the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, graciously wrote a detailed reply to my question a week ago. I am going to put his response in this space in blocks. For better comprehension, I shall... Read more

Questions for Authors of Study on Benefits of Electro-Acupuncture After Brain Radiotherapy

Posted 8 April 2015 by Kausik Datta

The April 1 issue (-giggle-) of PLOS ONE published an article on the alternative medicine modality of electro-acupuncture (EA) by a group of investigators from Shanghai, China (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122087). The basic premises of the study are sound: Certain types of brain tumors require radiation therapy or 'radiotherapy' as a treatment option; this therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy the cancerous cells in a targeted manner. However, even in case of successful tumor radiotherapy, some normal brain tissue may also... Read more

In Its Endlessness Life Abounds

Posted 13 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

The past one year has been rough - what with the deaths of a few close family members. Just as I am slowly settling into 2015, in quick succession come three harsh blows from life: first, that poignant announcement from Prof. Oliver Sachs, next, the untimely death of a beloved mentor and friend, Prof. Paula Pitha-Rowe, and now, the sudden passing of my ever-the-most-favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett. One by one, my favorite people are leaving me, and I don't... Read more