Respectful Insolence

Archives for September, 2008

Viruses are “molecular acids”?

I feel a bit bad this week. You see, since Tuesday I’ve been pretty much wallowing in some of the most outrageous woo, antiscience, and abuses of logic and reason I’ve ever come across, courtesy of the merry band of clueless antivaccinationists over at Age of Autism. I had thought that I should try to…

Chelation study for autism tossed on the dustbin

Well, well, well, well. Sometimes science and ethics do win out after all: CHICAGO (AP) — A government agency has dropped plans for a study of a controversial treatment for autism that critics had called an unethical experiment on children. The National Institute of Mental Health said in a statement Wednesday that the study of…

Well, looky here: The ScienceBlogs Book Club is back! From October 1 through October 10, we’ll be discussing Autism’s False Prophets, by Dr. Paul Offit. Dr. Offit will be joined on the blog by a panel of experts, and we’re inviting all of you to join in by reading the book at home, and contributing…

Forgive me, dear readers. I realize that I’ve already subjected you once to the contagious supernova of stupidity that is an Olmsted on Autism blog post. I broke my usual rule about not directly linking to the crank blog Age of Autism unless there is a compelling need. One reason is that I hate to…

Is anyone surprised by this result?

Ah, science! In no other fields can we ask such amazing questions and, through rigorous experimentation, get the answers. Answers like this: A study commissioned by a phallically named insurance company proves beyond all doubt that the unbridled roar of an Italian supercar turns women on but the soft purr of a fuel-efficient econobox doesn’t…

Dr. Paul Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure has hit the bookstores, and, as predicted, the mercury militia is going into a frenzy of spin and smear. As is usual, because they have no science to support their viewpoint, they are reduced to extended ad hominem…

One of the aspects of blogging that I’ve come to like is the ability to follow a story’s evolution over the long term and to comment on new developments as they come along. If you’re good at blogging, you can take that story and make it your own, adding it to your list of “signature”…

In the battle of science versus woo…

…sometimes the good guys win. Congratulations to Ben Goldacre for taking on the supplement quack Matthias Rath and prevailing. That he did it even in the notoriously plaintiff-friendly U.K. court system is even better. Indeed, The Guardian also deserves kudos for supporting Ben in this.

Saturday Night Live on Sarah Palin

Heh. “Please, ask this one about dinosaurs.” “I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can’t, I will lend you mine.”

Weekend mailbag: Orac is a bad, bad man

After yesterday’s lovefest that really did go to my head. Really, when I wrote it I wasn’t trolling for praise, although in retrospect it now does kind of look that way to me. I was simply expressing amazement that anyone would listen to a pseudonymous (although not really anonymous anymore) blogger. Fortunately for my ego,…

Even after over three years at this, I still find it amazing that as many people read my verbal meanderings as in fact do. In fact, I still can’t believe that I’m one of the more popular medical bloggers out there. True, I’ll probably never approach the traffic and readership of the huge political blogs…

When religion interferes with medical education

I’ve often written about the intersection of medicine and religion. Most commonly, I’ve lamented how the faithful advocate inappropriately injecting religion into the doctor-patient relationship in a manner that risks imposing the religion of the health care practitioner on the patient, sometimes through physicians feeling no obligation to inform patients of therapeutic options that violate…

The 95th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle has been posted by Bob Carroll over at Skeptimedia: Seven years ago, The Very Lost Prophecies of Michel Nostradamus were found by Quantum Beam Radium and Harvard Veritas Schwartz in a Peruvian cave. Dr. Schwartz’s validated spirit guide directed the pair to the cave by interpreting entangled stains…

There are some days when I just don’t feel like posting the usual stuff, and September 11 is just one of those days. So today there’ll be no woo-bashing, no evisceration of postmodernist nonsense, no sarcastic assaults on antivaccinationists. In a more serious vein, there won’t be any analyses of scientific papers, clinical studies, or…

This video was shot by Bob and Bri, who in 2001 lived in a high rise a mere 500 yards from the North Tower. On this seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I think it’s important to post this again. It is the most prolonged and continuous video of the attack that I have…

Dear patient,

As angry as you justifiably may be at times at the medical profession, it’s (usually) not our fault. Dr. Rob Explains why. I’m sure PalMD understands even better than I do.

I hate postmodernism. Well, not exactly postmodernism per se, but I hate it when pseudoscientists and purveyors of dubious “alternative” medicine treatments invoke bizarre postmodernist-sounding arguments to attack science or, in the case of medicine, science- and evidence-based medicine. Usually these attacks involve a claim that science is nothing more than one other “narrative” among…

Well, here’s a rare bit of good news in the endless tedium that has become the U.S. election. It appears that Barack Obama has ticked off the antivaccine contingent. I know, I know, I said I would try to lay off this topic for a few days, but this is just too amusing. Apparently, he’s…

If there’s one thing I really detest, it’s cancer quackery. Indeed, one of the very earliest posts on this blog was about this very topic, and applying science, skepticism, and critical thinking to extraordinary claims of cancer cures has remained a major theme of this blog ever since. Shortly after that, I described how, because…

Cancer thought for the day

“One dumb tumor is still smarter than ten smart oncologists.” –George Sledge, MD My only retort is that, slowly but surely, oncologists and we oncologic surgeons are getting smarter.

If there’s one thing that cancer researchers, indeed most biomedical researchers in the U.S., know today it’s that the research funding climate sucks right now. Indeed, after the completion of the near-doubling of the NIH budget in 2003, during which time it was flying high, the NIH budget in essence crash landed–hard. Paylines, which had…

It’s almost here yet again. (Man, how time flies!) This Thursday (September 11), longtime skeptic extraordinaire Robert Carroll, the man behind the indispensable Skeptic’s Dictionary, will be hosting the 95th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle at Skeptimedia. That’s a mere four days from now! I can’t wait to see what Bob cooks up for this…

The way to a surgeons heart…

…is through his plush guts, as Liz Ditz tells me: I particularly like the plush pancreas, even though I haven’t done pancreatic surgery on a regular basis since the 1990s. I’m a little confused, though, about why the plush gallbladder is purple instead of green. Surgeons really, really hate to see purple gallbladders, because the…

A perfect tool for the JABS contingent

I guess I’m just going to have to face it. I’m entering a period of lots of vaccine blogging again. After all, Jenny McCarthy’s book is coming out this month, and I’ve heard rumblings that she’s scheduled to be on the undisputed Queen of Woo Oprah Winfrey’s TV show later this month; so beware. Already…

I’ve railed on more than one occasion about how much I detest science by press release. For one thing, it bypasses the peer review process and reports results directly to the public, which to me is a strike against any study. Indeed, releasing results by press release or using a press release to tout a…