Respectful Insolence

Archives for April, 2007

Silencing the opposition over autism

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Nature Neuroscience has weighed in about the pseudoscience that claims that mercury causes autism. Based on British experience with animal rights activists, it points out a parallel that I hadn’t considered before: The idea that autism is caused by vaccination is influencing public policy, even though rigorous…

It’s that day again!

Andrew reminds me that today is a very special day. Yes, indeed, it’s the day that everyone who detests fascism should celebrate: Fuehrerstodestag! (Otherwise known as “Dead Hitler Day.”) Yes, 62 years ago this hour, Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the Reich, finally cornered, his nation in ruins, offed himself in his bunker in Berlin as…

Thanks to a reader commenting in yesterday’s post, I’ve been made aware of a truly brilliant summation of creationism of both the young earth and intelligent design variety: Exactly.

A question on mobile phones

I don’t often do this, but every so often I come across a question that I need help deciding. What’s the use of having a moderately popular blog (alas, 3,000 visits a day do not constitute an “immensely popular” blog) if I can’t sometimes use it for my own nefarious purposes, right? The question is…

It’s not just surgeons anymore!

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly it’s a bad thing that another physician is diving head-first into the pseudoscience that is “intelligent design” creationism and making a of himself in the process. On the other hand, at least this time it’s not a surgeon: A Columbia medical…

Diving deeper into the slime

After the Virginia Tech shootings, as you may recall, a lot of people started using the shootings as a convenient excuse to start pontificating about their favorite cause or to attack their most hated enemy, be it secularism or even vaccines. In fact, politicians, pundits, and just plain annoying whackjobs are blaming the rampage on…

Those darned kids!

Students cheat on exams. There’s just no getting around it. No matter how secure teachers think they’ve made their examination processes, there will always be a subset of students who try to find a way around any security procedures and give themselves an advantage, either by hook or by crook. These days, technology is making…

Interesting NIH grant tidbits

This is a bit science policy wonky, but here’s some interesting news from Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship: My *favorite* new factoid from the NIH … the oldest “new investigator” to date received his first R01 last year at age … 82. You go, guy! On the other hand, a nobel laureate was triaged. As…

I’ve said it once before, but this week’s woo compels me to say it again: I happen to love gadgets. I’ve been a bit of a technogeek since very early on in my life, with a lot of the things that go along with it, including a major interest in science fiction, awkwardness around the…

On May 5 New York City will witness what will perhaps be the most unintentionally hilarious spectacle of two fundamentalists making utter fools of themselves: MEDIA ADVISORY, April 26 /Christian Newswire/ — After ABC ran a story in January about hundreds of atheists videotaping themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit, best-selling author Ray Comfort contacted the…

A transvaginal gall bladder operation?

When I saw this, I thought it had to be a joke. But it’s not: Doctors in New York have removed a woman’s gallbladder with instruments passed through her vagina, a technique they hope will cause less pain and scarring than the usual operation, and allow a quicker recovery. The technique can eliminate the need…

“Woo-omics” at NCCAM

Just when I start to think that maybe, just maybe, I could stop worrying and learn to love the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, with apologies to Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers), damn if it doesn’t go and do something that renews my cynicism about the entire Center. This time around, Dr.…

Well, it’s that time again, time for another foray into battle against the rampant credulity that permeates the blogosphere. This time, your host is a veteran who has hosted two previous Meetings of the Skeptics’ Circle and produced some of the most memorable Circles we’ve had. After two abortive attempts at a format, he’s come…

Ever wonder what happened to Roger Ebert?

Ever wonder what happened to Roger Ebert, who has been absent from the balcony in his Ebert & Roeper Show for quite some time battling cancer? So did I. I always liked his style and mostly agreed with his movie reviews, but since moving away from Chicago I haven’t heard much or watched the show…

This is the sort of thing that really irritates me. Shelley, over at Retrospectacle posted a rather nice analysis of a paper that appeared in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture entitled Natural volatile treatments increase free-radical scavenging capacity of strawberries and blackberries. She was skeptical about news reports and press releases…

A lot of readers (well, a couple, anyway) have been asking me about the recent article by Peter Duesberg in the most recent issue of Scientific American entitled Chromosomal Chaos and Cancer. I suppose it’s because I’m not only a cancer surgeon (which in and of itself is not enough to qualify me to comment…

Given all the verbiage (see the link list below) about dichloroacetate (DCA) that I’ve spewed into the blogosphere decrying the hijacking of a promising cancer therapy by conspiracy-mongers (it’s the cancer cure “big pharma” is keeping from you because they can’t make money on it) and opportunistic entrepreneurs like Jim Tassanno preying on the desperation…

NIH budget woes: Spin versus reality

As I mentioned before, I was at the American Association for Cancer Research Meeting in Los Angeles last week. During the meeting, I happened to attend a plenary session talk by the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. John Niederhuber, whose topic was the rather dire NCI funding situation. I’ve written about this…

This is not funny

Mike, Mike, Mike… What did I ever do to deserve this? Specifically, your remarks about our creationist neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor: In his “response,” “Egnor” manages to completely distort pretty much everything about my article, in a way that is so ham-fistedly inept that it is simply impossible for me to continue to believe that…

A while back, I posted about news reports that teachers in the U.K. were reluctant to teach about the Holocaust because of fears of offending the sensibilities of certain parts of the population. The subtext, of course, was that Muslims were the ones who would be offended. I lamented that such sensitivity might be causing…

Those arguing the “conventional” view that sound science and epidemiological studies have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism are often tarred with the “pharma shill” brush. Meanwhile, researchers who have ever taken drug company money (particularly if it’s from a drug company that makes vaccines) are castigated for having a serious conflict…

The lowest of the low

Ever since the Virginia Tech shootings a week ago, there’s been a lot of playing of the blame game in the blogosphere over who or what was to blame for Cho Seung-Hui’s deadly rampage. A few days ago, I mentioned one bright spot of heroism among the carnage, where a faculty member, Professor Liviu Librescu,…

The face of terror

There is a monster living in our house. Black and sleek, with nasty, pointy, teeth, it lurks, waiting to deal out death and carnage. Indeed, evidence of its implacable thirst for death was left for me when I returned from Los Angeles late Wednesday night, perhaps left in tribute. Behold, the face of death!

Skeptics’ Circle administrative stuff

This is just a brief announcement to inform everyone that, as part of a project to update and improve the Skeptics’ Circle main site, I’ve updated the link list in the sidebar to cull broken links, add several new skeptical blogs that I’ve come across (or older skeptical blogs that I’ve never heard of before),…

Vaccines caused the Virginia Tech rampage?

I hadn’t planned on writing again about the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech. After all, what more could I say that hasn’t been said before in the blogospheric chatter that’s erupted in the five days since the killings? Despicably, everyone’s blaming their favorite cause. Fundamentalists are blaming atheism, secularism, and even Charles Darwin for the…