Respectful Insolence

Archives for July, 2008

Oh, no. I don’t know how they got it. I don’t know where they got it. But somehow, they got it. Somehow, those advocates of the idea that mercury in vaccines causes autism have gotten a hold of the white paper telling how big pharma fooled everyone about the real mercury content of vaccines! It’s…

One of the great “myths” of the mercury militia, that movement that insists no matter what the actual scientific evidence shows that it absolutely, positively has to be mercury from vaccines that cause autism is the Myth of the Poor Excretor. In other words, the claim is that autistic children are somehow “poor excretors” of…

I was contemplating how to get back into the swing of things as far as getting the blogging juices flowing again after the unfortunate events of the last few days, given how much my last post drained me. I suppose I could have dived into the infamous PZ versus the cracker incident, but, quite frankly,…

Three uneaten ears of corn

Prelude: Sunday, June 22, 2008 Only three weeks ago. All seems well. Prelude II: Thursday, July 3, 2008 We learn that all is not well. Saturday, July 12, 2008, 6:30 AM He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him traveled about The dog up and died, he up and died And…

Don’t forget, everyone, the 91st Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle is fast approaching and due to land at Sorting Out Science on Thursday, July 17. Check out the guidelines for what we’re looking for and get your bst skeptical stuff ready to submit before the deadline. The contact information and deadline for this particular installment…

Thanks, Jenny McCarthy

The other day, I sarcastically “thanked” Andrew Wakefield for his role in making sure that measles is again endemic in the U.K. At the same time I wondered whether in 5 to 10 years I’d be similarly “thanking” Jenny McCarthy for her role in doing the same thing here in the United States. It looks…

There’s no woo like Harvard woo

I’d start out by saying that here’s another one for my (in)famous Academic Woo Aggregator, except that this institution is already a part of the Woo Aggregator. The only thing I can say is that Steve Novella (who’s from Yale and has had to manage an influx of woo at his home institution) might get…

It’s been a week now since my wife and I learned that our beloved dog, whom we’ve had for eight years, had terminal cancer. At the time I was so sad and down that I just couldn’t even imagine getting myself into the appropriately light-hearted frame of mind that I try to maintain. In the…

When faith healers attack

While I’m taking some time to rag on TV news for its ludicrously credulous reporting of various “alternative” medicine claims, take a gander at this puff piece on a faith healer. Where’s James Randi when you need him? True, the story mentioned that not one of this faith healer’s “healings” could be independently verified with…

What is it with the local news media in my hometown? You might (or might not) remember when I noted back in February that there was one Detroit station that did an unbelievably, hilariously dumb and credulous story about “orbs” in photos and whether they are ghosts or spirits manifesting themselves to their friends and…

Courtesy of antivaccinationist Kool Aid drinker Ginger Taylor, I saw this new term for those who argue against the scientifically dubious proposition that vaccines cause autism, specifically Paul Offit: Vaccinianity – (Vax.e.an.eh.te) n. The worship of Vaccination. The belief that Vaccine is inherently Good and therefore cannot cause damage. If damage does occur, it is…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. J.B. Handley, that bull-in-a-china-shop general in the mercury militia who detests me intensely, is about as ignorant as they come when it comes to science and clinical trials. Yesterday, he provided yet more evidence of his cluelessness in his latest piece posted to that repository for…

Thanks, Andrew Wakefield

Thanks, Andrew Wakefield. Thanks for bringing the measles back to the U.K. with your shoddy, litigation- and profit-driven pseudoscience: Fourteen years after the local transmission of measles was halted in the United Kingdom (UK), the disease has once again become endemic, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the public health body of England and…

Having lived in Ohio for eight years and married a woman from the Toledo area, I had come to think that Ohioans had more common sense. I guess I was wrong. On the other hand, I should have realized that I was wrong. After all, Ohio is home to The Ohio State University Center for…

Reclaiming vicious dogs

Given all the heartbreaking stuff that’s going on with our dog this week, I’m rather grateful to John Lehrer for pointing me to this uplifting article about the dogs abused by the evil and despicable Michael Vick. It turns out that that bastard didn’t end up leaving all his dogs so vicious that euthanasia is…

Last week, The New York Times started a rather unusual series in its medical section entitled, The Evidence Gap, described thusly: Articles in this series will explore medical treatments used despite scant proof they work and will consider steps toward medicine based on evidence. When I first saw the series, I was prepared for a…

Thanks to all…

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments about the recent bad news about our dog. (Even someone who really detests me because of my position on the vaccine/autism issue was in this instance kind.) I don’t know if I’ll feel much like blogging for a while; on the other hand, blogging has been therapeutic for…

Today is Friday, which has normally meant for the last two years that it’s the time every week when I poke fun at some particularly outrageous woo. Indeed. I even had a great idea for a 4th of July-themed post today that (I hope) would have been hilarious. I had even started to write a…

Better late than never (for me to announce it, I mean), the 90th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle has descended upon the blogosphere from Down Under, this time brought to you by prominent Australian skeptic and battler against woo, a guy who’s even harsher on antivaccinationists than I am, Peter Bowditch. Go forth and enjoy!…

I’ve written time and time again about how antivaccinationists go out of their way to try to reassure us that they really, truly are not “antivaccine” or even that they support vaccination. Of course, such disclaimers are often nothing more than a prelude to a tirade of blatantly antivaccination rhetoric and misinformation about “toxins” in…

One of the main issues that I’ve written about quite a bit is the issue of what the state should have the power to do when a child has cancer or another life-threatening disease and the parents choose quackery over scientific medicine when the disease is potentially (or even highly) treatable or curable with standard…

I’ve written extensively before about how advocates of non-science-based “medical” treatments, such as naturopathy, homeopathy, and all the woo that follows have been waging a war on all fronts against science- and evidence-based medicine in their effort to have their so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (or the newer, brighter, shinier name “integrative medicine”) be perceived…

Recall bias, vaccines, and illness

In the eyes, of anti-vaccine advocates, vaccines bear the brunt of blame for a variety of conditions, including autism, asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders, autoimmune disorders and a wide variety others. Often this link is based on retrospective data, in which parents or patients recall and self-report how many vaccines they’ve had and which ones. This self-recall…

(Note Addendum before commenting, please.) Is there any candidate who still supports the separation of church and state anymore? Heck, even Barack Obama seems to be pandering to the religious base these days: CHICAGO — Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand President Bush’s program steering federal…

Yesterday, I was depressed. Today I’m a little irritated. I’m irritated because I came across a study from a couple of weeks ago that’s actually a really cool study that applies actual science to the question of how diet and lifestyle changes might alter biology to improve health. It’s exactly the sort of study that…