Respectful Insolence

Archives for January, 2008

Along with Dr. R.W. and few others, I’ve made a bit of a name for myself in the medical blogosphere by bemoaning the infiltration of non-science- and non-evidence-based medicine into academia. It’s not a particularly popular viewpoint. The prevailing attitude seems to be: Why be so negative? It’s all good. Moreover, with a credulous media…

Victorian post-mortem photography

Via a fascinating blog that was pointed out to me (Morbid Anatomy), I came across a story from last winter about how a Colorado nonprofit organization is reviving a Victorian custom about which I had been largely ignorant, namely the custom of taking photographs of recently deceased loved ones as mementos. Indeed, the photographs were…

Things are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these…

Deepak Chopra misunderstands skepticism

Things are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these…

Things are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these…

Things are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these…

Things are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these…

Things are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these…

It’s that time again. The Skeptics’ Circle has once again descended upon the blogosphere to try to do battle with the rampant credulity therein and by bringing a whiff of skepticism and critical thinking into what is, sadly, a free-for-all of posting first and asking questions later. Hard as it is to believe, the Circle…

The Downfall of HD-DVD

Only someone who’s a bit of a tech geek who hasn’t yet decided which format to purchase for HD video and is a World War II and Holocaust history buff could find this video as hilarious as I do. (Not to mention someone who, due to a confluence of craziness in professional and personal life,…

PETA outdoes itself in sheer insanity

File this under You Can’t Make Stuff Like This Up. Just when I think People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) can’t get any more zany or ridiculous in its never-ending battle against meat eating, it comes up with a gem like sending a request to the jail where a cannibal killer is being…

How woo can really, really hurt

Pal MD explains it to us using an example.

It’s been a while since I’ve dealt with creationists trying to claim either that evolutionary theory is not relevant to the problem of microbial resistance to antibiotics or, even worse, making really bad medical recommendations on the basis of their interpretation of evolution. This time around RPM has posted a nice article on Competitive Release…

Today is a very sad day around my lab. I’ve just been informed that one of my scientific heroes, the man whose work inspired me to enter the research area that I entered, namely tumor angiogenesis, died last night. Yes, sadly, Dr. Judah Folkman reportedly died of a heart attack last night. I had the…

Perusing the skeptical medical blogosphere, I came across some rather amusing, but nonetheless informative, videos from the 1950s about medical quackery. There are a number of aspects of these videos that are a bit unsettling to modern viewers, such as the “doctor knows best” paternalism, naïve faith in the AMA and other medical organizations, the…

A medical Jack Bauer

Sadly, today would have been the day that the new season of 24 would have started. Even though after the first five or six episodes last season stunk bad enough to knock the proverbial buzzard off a manure wagon, I’m still a sucker for the show and had high hopes that it could stage a…

Mark gets some schooling in surgery

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Mark Hoofnagle of denialism.com has exited the rarified (and much less stressful world) of the laboratory and has dived headlong right into the clinic again, starting out with his surgery rotation. As an old geezer (OK, middle-aged; it just feels old when each year’s crop of new…

The real “evidence of harm”

I haven’t written before about the tragic case of Katie McCarron, the three year old autistic girl whose mother killed her in May 2006. It’s an incredibly sad tale, and others have covered it better. However, the trial started last week, and on Friday there was some testimony that suggests an effect of all the…

Geek orgasms will ensue…

…at Elijah Wood’s elaborating on plans to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to the big screen in not one but two movies. I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about or not, even if he is buddies with Peter Jackson, but the plans sound at the same time intriguing and worrisome. I do…

YouTube Sunday: We are the PCR, I think

I don’t really care if this is cynical viral marketing or not. I don’t even care that half the science blogosphere has picked it up (with no doubt the other half to pile on in the next few days). This is just so frikkin’ brilliant that I’m going to join in, lemming-like, too, heedless of…

Someone sent me a transcript of part of the appearance of Deirdre Imus on her husband’s radio show that’s been making the rounds in various discussion groups. I’m glad I don’t listen to the show, as this segment might have made me take a baseball bat to my radio, if I had enough neurological function…

Well, 2008 is off to a great start with the Skeptics’ Circle. It’s fast approaching the time to see if the momentum can be maintained. Yes, it won’t be long before the next Skeptics’ Circle comes around the pike. Indeed, the next meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle will appear on Thursday, January 17 and will…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about woo in the more than a year and a half that I’ve been doing this regular Friday feature, it’s that there’s definitely a religious element to virtually all woo. In essence, it requires believing in something that cannot be demonstrated scientifically, often despite science outright refuting it. For…

Another example of the arrogance of ignorance

The other day, I mentioned what Prometheus termed the “arrogance of ignorance,” in which people with no training in a complex, scientific issue have the hubris to think that they know enough to be able to lecture medical scientists on shortcomings of their research. Here’s another example of just such arrogance by antivaccinationist Barbara Loe…

In recent years, there has been a lot of interest in improving surgical outcomes. One strain of research tends to examine the “volume-outcome” relationship, which in essence asked the question if the volume of cases that a surgeon or hospital does has a relationship outcome. In other words, are mortality rates lower, survival rates better,…