Steven Novella

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Steven Novella (1964–) is a cynical clinical neurologist at Yale University and a prominent skeptic, probably one of the busiest in the field. His main project is the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, which he hosts with his panel of skeptical "rogues." It's run out of the New England Skeptical Society (NESS), which he helped found in the 1990s. The NESS is separate from JREF, but accepts applicants for Randi's $1 million challenge and performs the first stage tests. Due to his credentials as a doctor, he tends to focus on alternative medicine and other types of quackery, though he also covers creationism, UFOs and Big Pharma quite heavily as well.

He has been one of the most outspoken critics of the anti-vaccination movement.[1] Novella got into a dust-up with David Kirby of the Huff Woo over the MMR/vaccine scare.[2] There was some long, drawn-out drama between Novella and Michael Egnor over creationism and mind-body dualism.[3] He has also had some protracted debate with a notable proponent of mental illness denial, Fred Baughman.[4]

Novella runs and contributes to a number of blogs, including his personal blog NeuroLogica, and Science-Based Medicine. He was one of the original signatories to Project Steve. He is also an unabashed Star Trek and sci-fi geek, but constant critic of Ray Kurzweil.


On June 9, 2014, Novella (along with Yale University, SGU Productions, and the Society for Science-based medicine) became the subject of a lawsuit by Dr. Edward Tobinick of the Institute of Neurological Recovery,[5] regarding a May 2013 article[6] posted by Novella discussing the Institute's dubious practices, Tobinick's non-expertise in the field, and the lack of sufficient evidence for the efficacy of his signature treatment. Interestingly, the basis of Tobinick's lawsuit was the allegation the article in question was an advertisement for Novella's practice, and thus "violat[ing]... Section 43 of the Lanham Act"[7] which provides protections against false advertisement, to which Novella responded, "I can only assume that he and his attorneys are not bothered by the fact that blog posts on SBM are blatantly not advertisements."

On July 14, 2014, an "Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary and Preliminary Injunctive Relief" was filed by Novella's lawyer.[8]

On July 23, 2014, Novella made a post on Science-Based Medicine and Neurologica publicly announcing the pending lawsuit,[9] and expressing his views. He stated: "[W]e have no intention of removing the post as we feel it is critical to the public’s interest... We also feel it is critical not to cave to this type of intimidation. If we do, we might as well close up shop... Defending against even a frivolous lawsuit can be quite expensive, but we feel it is necessary for us to fight as hard as we can to defend our rights and the work that we do here at SBM."

On September 25, 2014, Yale University and SGU Productions were dropped as defendants from the suit.[10] Attempts made to reconsider the dismissal by Tobinick's attorneys were denied.[11]

A little over a year later on September 30, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted Dr. Novella’s motion for summary judgment, ending the lawsuit.[12]

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