I thought I would provide a quick run-down of some of the response to my Wired article on functional neuroimaging. Predictably, most of the comments revolved around Daniel Amen, who has presumably seen a major uptick in book and nutraceutical sales, and new appointments for SPECT scans. Any publicity is good publicity.
The neurologist and author Robert Burton emailed me a link to his excellent article in Salon, entitled “Brain scam: Why is PBS airing Dr. Daniel Amen’s self-produced infomercial for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease?” It is absolutely required reading.
Ginger Campbell, an ER physician and medical podcaster, contacted me about this brief discussion thread her blog, Brain Science Podcast.
Dr. Charles Parker has defended Amen at length, which is not surprising, considering that he was once chief psychiatrist at the Amen Clinic in Virginia and that he currently has what he calls an “Active SPECT Image Evaluation Practice.” Dr. Parker posted three consecutive long entries on his blog, as well as a couple of comments on the Wired website. I would classify his postings as shotgun rants, taking aim at everything that gets in the way of selling more SPECT scans—including what he calls “silly statistical banter,” the FDA, and DSM-4. For Parker, scientists who insist on careful statistical evaluation of new treatments are missing the point, because, as he poetically concludes in one of his postings:
“but the real numbers
are with the smiling faces of patients who do improve
the satisfaction of knowing you got it after years of difficulties when others didn't
long after all the previous timid placebo hopes have been repeatedly dashed, and everyone is running on cold, frozen reality, with no hint of hope fueling the tank.
That real number is true satisfaction.”
File this under: Wow.