Respectful Insolence

Archives for January, 2008

Ack! The new Skeptic’s Circle is here! Yes, the 79th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle has convened over at Podblack Blog, and it’s another great collection of skeptical blogging. So why am I disturbed? I just realized that I’ve utterly failed in my organizer duties in that I totally forgot to submit one of my…

I used to be somewhat of a supporter of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). I really did. This was back when I was more naïve and idealistic. Indeed, when I first read Wally Sampson’s article Why NCCAM should be defunded, I thought it a bit too strident and even rather close-minded.…

Three and a half months after Kevin Leitch announced that he was shutting down his most excellent blog, Left Brain/Right Brain, it appears that, thankfully, he’s changed his mind. Appearing yesterday on the archives of his blog, Kev announced that his blog is open for business again. Join me in welcoming Kev back to the…

Like most people, I have my limits. Actually, I have a pretty high tolerance for tastelessness. It’s a necessity in a world like this, where tastelessness increasingly goes beyond the pale. But even I am not above finding something like this so tasteless and offensive that I can only shake my head: RIO DE JANEIRO…

A few days ago, I was amused by a term coined by Dr. R.W. The term, “quackademic medicine,” was meant to describe the unholy fusion of non-science- and non-evidence-based woo that has infiltrated academic medicine to a disturbing extent over the last decade or two. There was a lot of reaction, mainly positive, to the…

Last week, I did one of my inimitable rants about an ABC television show set to air on Thursday called Eli Stone, in which a lawyer sues a pharmaceutical company for “mercuritol” (an obvious allusion to thimerosal) in vaccines and how it supposedly caused a child’s autism. Basically, I called it an irresponsible bit of…

The other day I mentioned the now-infamous magic Alzheimer’s helmet, a device being hyped to the press by a group of scientists on the basis of very little data. Believe it or not, of all organizations, ABC News has published an article citing the skeptics’ side. It starts: What if the secret to stopping the…

In nondescript dressing room in a nondescript studio in a nondescript office building in in a nondescript industrial park, a short, pudgy 63-year-old man with the stereotypical demeanor of a particularly boring economist was trying to squeeze into a pair of shorts. “Why oh why did I agree to do this?” he muttered in a…

A magic helmet to cure Alzheimer’s disease?

Several readers have e-mailed me this story. It’s about a device developed in the U.K.. Based on near infrared light (NIR), the device, it is claimed by its creator, will be a major step forward for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He even made some very bold claims that it could not just slow the…

Pity poor David Kirby. Nearly three years ago now, he published his now-infamous Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, A Medical Mystery. Hooking up with the most vocal of the mercury militia, his book blamed mercury in vaccines as the major cause of autism. Unfortunately for Kirby, time has not been…

He really does.

With all the woo infiltrating hospitals these days, as I’ve lamented about in constructing my Academic Woo Aggregator, it was only a matter of time until these ways of thinking started to infiltrate other lines of work. Why not “alternative janitorial services” as well? After reading about it, I wonder how long before it spreads…

The Chinese “Elephant Man”

This story is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve only just come across it. It reminds me that there may be some things worse than death, and this is one of them: To see the face of 32-year-old Huang Chuancai is to witness a rare genetic condition in its most terrible form. Chinese doctors…

I’ll give Don Imus credit for one thing. He’s predictable and consistent. He never fails to deliver the stupid when it comes to vaccines and autism. True, his wife may take the stupid to hysterically malignant levels when she decides to rant about her belief in the undead myth that mercury in vaccines was a…

Winter has settled in well and good around these parts, maybe not as brutal as around P.Z.’s abode but bad enough. So what does one do on a cold, blustery day? If you’re a skeptical blogger, you could whip up an example of your best stuff and submit it to the upcoming Meeting of the…

One of the favorite failings in logic and science among the woo-friendly crowd is the ever-famous one of confusing correlation with causation, also known as non causa pro causa, which means “non-cause for the cause.” Examples of this are rampant, and include the antivaccinationists who confuse correlation with vaccination and the age at which autism…

Word of the day

Word of the day: “Quackademic medicine.” I love it. Dr. R.W. explains. I very well may have to steal that term. As they say about artists, good ones borrow but great ones steal. (Just living up to the arrogance of my namesake…)

I wish I lived in Toronto…

…because then I could attend Dr. David Colquhoun’s lecture at the University of Toronto tomorrow. Dr. Colquhoun, for those not familiar with him, is the eminent pharmacologist with the name that is exceedingly difficult to remember how to spell who runs DC’s Improbable Science, an excellent skeptical, scientific, and medical blog that routinely takes on…

Time to update the Academic Woo Aggregator

My post from Monday finally goaded me to do it. Yes, it’s time to update the Academic Woo Aggregator. I’ve been far too remiss in doing so, and at least a couple of new candidates have come to my attention as I continue to keep my eye out for more. First, from the U.S. News…

I’m a little late on this, but Avery Comarow, the reporter who wrote the big story three weeks ago in U.S. News & World Report about the infiltration of woo into academic medicine, has responded to criticisms of his column in his blog. His response, I’m afraid, is underwhelming. First, he starts out with the…

It’s times like these that I wish the Hollywood writers’ strike had really and truly shut down production of new dramas completely. A new series on ABC set to premiere on January 31 looks as though it’s going to dish up a heapin’ helpin’ of the vilest antivaccination lies and propaganda that will potentially endanger…

Three months ago, I wrote about vacuous legal threats issued by the Society of Homeopaths against one of the better skeptical bloggers, Le Canard Noir, who runs the excellent Quackometer Blog and created the infamous Quackometer, in order to intimidate him into silence. The attempt backfired spectacularly, as scores of bloggers reposted the article by…

…and ERV has the scoop, along with pictures. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about April Renée, the former President of The Autism Autoimmunity Project and a frequent speaker for Vaccine Injured Children, who was scheduled to speak in Oklahoma City on Saturday; so I’m not surprised at ERV’s observation: As for April Renée’s…

An opposite effect of chemotherapy?

Let’s face it. These days, research papers in the peer-reviewed biomedical scientific literature are becoming more and more complex and difficult to understand. For many journals, it seems, if you don’t have at least seven meaty, dense, multipanel figures (preferably some of which with flashy color confocal microscopy), you don’t have a prayer of getting…

In the mood for some great surgery blogging?

In the mood for some great surgery blogging? Then head on over to the latest edition of SurgeXperiences over at Counting Sheep. While you’re at it, head on over to the SurgeXperiences archive site and peruse past editions.