Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Newly discovered organ not actually an organ, or even a discovery

Paul Ingraham

Last week on Twitter I promoted the “new organ” story much too uncritically, because it seemed neat and I was in a hurry:

That tweet was a mistake, because the story and the science was seriously flawed. I did have some doubts at the time, but I was just too swamped with other work to listen to that little voice. Here’s a detailed critical analysis.

So what seems to be the trouble? Basically:

And the pseudoscientific cherry on top? The researcher primarily responsible speculated that this “discovery” is important because it might explain how acupuncture works. Alas, acupuncture does not work, so it doesn’t need any such explanation (and even if it did, this explanation would be more imaginative than helpful). This story was also yet another fine example of people getting all overheated about the alleged biological importance of fascia. We’ll be seeing the study referenced by cranks for years to come. If a scientific study plays a tune people want to hear, it will never die, no matter how hard it’s debunked.

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