Respectful Insolence

The last couple of days have been unrelentingly serious and depressing, with posts on the (probably) preventable death of a young Australian woman named Jess Ainscough of a rare cancer because she made the mistake of choosing the quackery that is the Gerson protocol rather than conventional medicine. Unfortunately, the “natural health community” will almost…

It’s been a rather…interesting…weekend. Friday, I noted the death of Jess Ainscough, a.k.a. “The Wellness Warrior,” a young Australian woman who was unfortunate enough to develop epithelioid sarcoma, a rare cancer, at the age of 22. I’ve been blogging about her because after her doctors tried isolated limb perfusion with chemotherapy in an attempt to…

Two months ago, I took note of a somewhat cryptic blog post by a young woman named Jess Ainscough. In Australia and much of the world, Ainscough was known as the Wellness Warrior. She was a young woman who developed an epithelioid sarcoma in 2008 and ended up choosing “natural healing” to treat her cancer.…

Poor Andy Wakefield. Beginning in the late 1990s until around six years ago, Andy was the premiere “vaccine skeptic” in the world. His 1998 case series published in The Lancet linking bowel problems in autistic children to the measles vaccine, the one where in the paper itself he was careful not to blame the MMR…

Every so often, it’s good to post some heartening news regarding quackery. After all, after a decade of blogging about this, preceded by five years in the trenches of Usenet battling quackery and Holocaust denial, sometimes it’s hard for me not to become depressed. After all, there are times when it really does feel as…

With the Disneyland measles outbreak still going strong and striking far more unvaccinated than vaccinated, it’s not surprising that a discussion has begun in some states about lax policies that permit religious and/or philosophical exemptions. In Oregon, for example, the legislature is considering SB442, a bill apparently originally intended to provide a technical fix to…

Oh, goody. Here’s something we didn’t need here in the US. While Australian skeptics have successfully been rallying to put a stop to a series of lectures from American antivaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, we’re going to have to put up with a far bigger name in quackery showing up right here in the good ol’…

Blowing the antivaccine dog whistle again

You remember Dr. Bob, don’t you? I’m referring, of course, to Robert “Dr. Bob” Sears, the Capistrano Beach, CA pediatrician who’s arguably the most famous of the antivaccine pediatricians who have been spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. (Sorry, Dr. Jay, but, regardless of your being Jenny McCarthy’s son’s pediatrician, I’d bet that…

Ever since the Disneyland measles outbreak hit high gear last month and permeated the national consciousness, the antivaccine movement has, justifiably, been on the defensive. We’ve been treated to the spectacle of a truly despicable cardiologist spewing antivaccine nonsense with an added dollop of contempt for parents of children with cancer who are worried about…

It often comes as a surprise to proponents of alternative medicine and critics of big pharma that I’m a big fan of John Ioannidis. Evidence of this can easily be found right here on this very blog just by entering Ioannidis’ name into the search box. Indeed, my first post about an Ioannidis paper is…

If there’s one thing that’s become clear to me over the years about acupuncture, it’s that it’s nothing more than a theatrical placebo. Many are the times that I’ve asked: Can we finally just say that acupuncture is nothing more than an elaborate placebo? Most recently, I asked this question in 2012. What science-based medicine…

I really don’t want Mondays to be come “let’s refute and make fun of the conspiratorial antivaccine nonsense Bill Maher said on his show Friday night.” I really don’t. However, I figured that I might have to devote Monday to that one more time this week after Maher really let his antivaccine freak flag fly…

If there’s one good thing about the ongoing Disneyland measles outbreak that is continuing to spread, if there can be a “good thing” about an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease that didn’t have to happen, it’s that it’s put the antivaccine movement on the defensive. They are definitely feeling the heat. Their reaction to that heat…

It’s been a while since I’ve taken notice of Vani Hari, a.k.a. The Food Babe, the misguided “food safety” activist who sees chemicals, chemicals, chemicals everywhere and raises fears about them all, especially the ones that she can’t pronounce. The first time I took any significant notice of her was about a year ago, when…

I think we’ve spent enough time on Bill Maher’s antivaccine posturing for now. There really isn’t much more to say for now. I’m sure he’ll probably dump some pseudoscientific nonsense about medicine on his show to provide me with more blogging material. Today, I’m moved to revisit a certain cancer quack whose offenses are threatening…

Sometimes, in order to understand advocates of pseudoscience, such as antivaccinationists, it’s a useful exercise to look at their most extreme elements. Admittedly, in focusing on such loons, one does take the risk of generalizing the nuts to everyone a bit much, but on the other hand I’ve often found that the extremists are basically…

Note added 2/10/2015: I’ve posted a followup in response to the skeptics who defend Bill Maher. A couple of weeks ago, I noted the return of the antivaccine wingnut side of Bill Maher, after a (relative) absence of several years, dating back, most likely, to the thorough spanking he endured for spouting off his antivaccine…

Well, the ongoing multistate measles outbreak that’s been in the news for the last few weeks continues apace, which means I can’t seem to stay away from the issue for more than a couple of days. For instance, yesterday I learned that five babies at a Chicago-area day care have been diagnosed with the measles.…

Yesterday was a very strange day, at least on the Internet. I really should learn to remove Twitter from my iPhone on Wednesdays. Why? Wednesdays tend to be my administrative days. I’m not in clinic seeing patients nor am I in the operating room. That’s why Wednesday tends to be one of the two days…

And now for something completely different… (Yes, there’s been enough vaccine blogging for the moment.) The date of the Kinsman Sports Celebrity Dinner in Saskatoon is fast approaching on February 6. It reminded me of my discussion of how Gordie Howe was flown to Tijuana to undertake a dubious stem cell therapy for his serious…

“I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice as well. So that’s a balance the government has to decide.” — NJ Governor Chris Christie, February 2, 2015 “The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), February 2,…

I swear, I had wanted to write about something else today. I really had. The reason is that we’re in one of those stretches of time where things seem to be happening fast and furious that have led most of my posts over the last couple of weeks to be about the Disneyland measles outbreak,…

Yesterday, I wrote about false balance in reporting on vaccines in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak. For those who’ve never encountered this blog, what I mean by false balance is when journalists, in a misguided belief that there are “two sides” (i.e., an actual scientific controversy) about the safety of childhood vaccines and…

Imagine, if you will, a time machine capsule going all the way back to the earliest days of this blog, back in 2005 and 2006. Now consider the antivaccine movement, which somehow I became very interested in very early, an interest that continues to this day. Do you remember one theme that I kept hitting…

If there’s one aspect of 2014 that I enjoyed, it’s that it was a very bad year for our old friend, America’s quack, a.k.a. Dr. Mehmet Oz. It seemed that, finally, some of the chickens were coming home to roost and Dr. Oz was starting to suffer a bit for his promotion of quackery and…