Respectful Insolence

Archives for October, 2007

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Reprogram your DNA!

DNA is an amazing molecule. How evolution could have, over eons, fashioned such an amazingly simple yet complex method of storing biological information and coding the proteins that carry out the functions of life is one of the great wonders of biology. Harnessing the power of DNA, through genetic engineering, the study of the genome,…

LOL–what?

PZ seems to think that the whole “LOL” thing has gone too far. He may be right. In fact, I’ve even commented on it before. Even though I have a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around the whole “LOLCats” phenomenon and its various bizarre spinoffs, I do have to admit that I’ve found one…

Whatever criticisms I may have had for prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris otherwise, one area that I’m totally down with both of them on is their criticism of the undue respect and consideration we as a society give to religious ideas. This consideration is rarely, if ever, based on the merit of…

Via Health Care Renewal, I’ve learned of a study that, certain people may be surprised to learn, troubles me. Published yesterday in JAMA, it is, as far as I know, the most comprehensive quantification of one type of tie between industry and academia, specifically how many department chairs have ties to industry and what kind.…

Papal pareidolia?

One of my favorite phenomena that represents better than perhaps any other how humans are wired to look for patterns, whether there is a pattern there or not, is the phenomenon known as pareidolia. As a Catholic-turned-sort-of-heathen, in particular I like Virgin Mary pareidolia, and have blogged about multiple such incidents. Of course, the Virgin…

I’ve written before about how one of the favorite tactics of those who do not like my insistence on applying skepticism, science, and critical thinking to the claims of alternative medicine or my refusal to accept a dichotomy between “alternative” and “conventional” medicine is to try so smear me as some sort of “pharma shill.”…

Carnival barking

I know, I’ve been a bad blogger about this lately, but better late than never. A couple of blog carnivals for you: surgeXperiences #106 Cancer Research Blog Carnival #2 Grand Rounds, vol. 4, no. 4

Is Bill Maher really that ignorant?

Work and a conference intervene to prevent a fresh dose of Respectful Insolence today. Fortunately, there’s still classic Insolence from the archives that hasn’t been moved over to the new blog. This one originally appeared on March 7, 2005. The short answer is: Yes. The long answer is below. When I first posted on this…

Work and a conference intervene to prevent a fresh dose of Respectful Insolence today. Fortunately, there’s still classic Insolence from the archives that hasn’t been moved over to the new blog. This amusing little trifle originally appeared on August 25, 2005. Well, I’m back. Yes, I know I blogged a fair amount while on vacation,…

On vaccines, immune to reason

It’s rare that one sees an editorial this spot on, but it happened a couple of days ago in The Washington Post: The debate over vaccine litigation has thus shifted from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt. While the number of major studies that have failed to find any substantive link between…

Tactical air support against reiki in trauma

About a week ago, I wrote about how the wooiest of woo, reiki, has infiltrated one of the best academic trauma centers in the U.S. In it, I lamented that I was feeling increasingly alone in being disturbed by this infiltration of religious pseudoscience into bastions of scientific medicine. Fortunately for me, Dr. RW is…

Today is a very sad day in the autism blogosphere. The news I am going to discuss saddens me and should sadden anyone concerned with autism, particularly in combating the antivaccination hysteria and the outright quackery that flows from it promulgated by so many these days, from J. B. Handley to Jenny McCarthy, who couldn’t…

How to cite a blog in an academic paper

Yes indeed, if you ever want to cite any of the pearls of brilliance laid down on a regular basis here, you can. Heck, you can even cite comments on blogs! So now you know. Here’s a sample citation.

About a week ago, I posted about a truly execrably credulous article on alternative medicine published at CNN.com, which basically took a panel of true believers and asked them which five alternative medicine modalities had the best evidence to show that they “work.” Now, Steve Novella weighs in. His key point, with which I agree,…

A skeptical comic

I was so busy mentioning how the Society of Homeopaths was using legal threats to try to shut down the free speech rights of the host of the next Skeptics’ Circle, Le Canard Noir, that I forgot to mention that he also turned me on to a great web comic. The comic, Cectic, is highly…

Must. See. This. Movie.

Will Smith is the last man on earth. The movie is directed by Ridley Scott. The last take on this story (Richard Matheson’s post-apocalyptic I Am Legend), The Omega Man, is one of my all time favorite science fiction movies. (Yes, I know it didn’t follow the story that closely, but it stood on its…

Caption this

I don’t do this very often, but this picture of Pope Benedict XVI struck me as amusing: One suggested caption is here. Not bad, but surely my readers can do better than that. Add your own caption!

The Skeptical Surfer informs me of a rather disturbing programming decision by PBS: I first caught wind of the autism film “Beautiful Son” through the surfing community. Surf filmmaker Don King has an autistic son. Being a filmmaker, Don always has a video camera at hand and has documented his “journey” of discovering that his…

Zombie yoga?

Knowing a certain recurring character on this blog, I so wish I had the time to take a trip into New York City on Sunday afternoon to participate in this. How do you plan to spend next weekend? With 200 zombies. Doing Yoga. In New York. * Tattered clothes. Severed Limbs. Blood. Guts. Brains. The…

Although his taste in music is questionable at best, Snowball the Cockatoo definitely knows how to get down and get funky. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like this before. Now maybe if we introduced Snowball to some old Parliament-Funkadelic. Tear the roof off the sucker, Snowball, and give up the funk!

Woo-meisters will not be pleased. While perusing this week’s Skeptics’ Circle, I was reminded of something that I had meant to post about a couple of days ago. I don’t know how he did it or where he got it, but somehow he has found the Holy of Holies for woos everywhere. He found The…

Regular readers of this blog are probably aware of my general opinion about Reiki and other “energy healing” modalities. In short, they’re woo, pure and simple. Consequently, one might reasonably ask why I’ve never featured the woo that is Reiki in Your Friday Dose of Woo. There’s a simple reason for that. Basic Reiki is…

One of the biggest complaints from alternative medicine practitioners is that some vast cabal, presumably made up big pharma, the CDC, the NIH, the AMA, and “conventional” doctors, is “suppressing” alternative medicine. Yes, true believers like, say, Mike Adams will claim that big pharma is going to suppress their free speech about “alternatives” and thus…

Yes, it’s that time again, time for the latest edition of the Skeptics’ Circle to land on the blogosphere like a nuclear explosion of reason, rationality, and science designed to demolish the credulity that is so rampant. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but we here at the Skeptics’ Circle do try to do our part…

I should have guessed. Leave it to uber-crank (a. k. a. One Crank To Rule Them All) Mike Adams, the “intellect” behind what is perhaps the crankiest website known to humankind (at least when it comes to medicine), NewsTarget.com, to try to slime Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As fellow ScienceBlogger Mark points out, in his…