Respectful Insolence

Archives for November, 2008

Why, Sithmas, of course! Just ask Palpatine if you don’t believe me: Yeah, this beats Squidmas hands down. Also, the Star Wars geek in me can’t help but mention that Emperor Palpatine is more than happy to answer many other of your questions, including “Why didn’t you kill Jar-Jar Binks?“; the sex lives of emperors;…

I don’t read ScienceBlogs.de for the simple reason that I don’t understand German beyond a few words and phrases. Consequently, I don’t know what our German counterparts are up to. However, a reader sent me a link that gives me reason to be very concerned about at least one of the blogs in the German…

Having finally hosted the Skeptics’ Circle myself last week after a long absence and having had a blast doing it to celebrate the 100th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle, I know it’s time for me once again to turn over the reins to the next host, who will inaugurate the beginning of what will (I…

Is Jenny McCarthy a danger to the world?

You know what my answer to this question would be. But what about puppet Steve Colbert’s answer? He disagrees. Or does he: “Now sure, she’s not the kind of expert who relies on facts and figures….She knows what she feels is true. She’s that kind of expert.” Heh. Oh, damn. PZ beat me to this.…

Believe it or not, sometimes even Orac has a life. I know, I know, between the ridiculously logorrheic blogging here and other online activities, coupled with even more ridiculous long hours working at his day job, it’s hard to conceive. However, my wife and I had a whole passel of relatives over, several of whom…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Continuing the theme from yesterday one last time this week and bringing our long disused blog mascot front and center, I wish all my readers a happy Thanksgiving!

Be afraid, be very afraid…

…EneMan thinks he’s “too sexy”: Unfortunately, someone else is claiming EneMan as her mascot: We can’t have that. Remember, EneMan has been this blogs mascot since December 2004. Maybe he’s getting restless because he hasn’t been featured very often the last couple of years. I wonder if I should remedy that…

Here we go again. Every so often, one of the–shall we say?–less popular members of our crew of science bloggers, someone who, despite being an academic whose area of expertise is ostensibly science communication, has stepped in it again. I’m referring, of course to Matt Nisbet. Only this time, it’s not him lecturing us just…

Hypocrisy and the Big Three bailout

Detroit’s my hometown. I was born in the city, spent the first ten years of my life within the city limits, at least until my parents moved to the suburbs. Given that, I’ve been watching events unfold with regard to the impending bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler (and, less likely but still possible, Ford) with…

Where’s that Doctor Doom mask again?

As I sat down on the couch in front of the TV last night to do my nightly blogging ritual, trying to tickle the gray matter to come up with the pearls of wisdom or insolence that my readers have come to know and love, I had a fantastic idea for a serious consideration of…

There are times when I see a quote by someone who is clearly extremely intelligent, but the quote is so utterly dumb, so devoid of any evidence that a single functioning neuron was behind it, that I can only shake my head in disbelief. Thanks to Dr. Val, Dr. Wes, and Walter Olson, I’ve found…

Paying for unapproved drugs

One of the handful of key themes that run through this blog day in, day out, week in, week, out, and year in, year out is that science and the application of the scientific method represent the most successful strategy that humans have yet come up with to improve human health. A consequence of this…

Too cool not to post: A meteor lands in Canada

I figure after expressing dismay at a certain member of Canada’s government yesterday, I should point out that something cool did happen in Canada the other day. Specifically, a police video camera caught a meteor streaking across the night sky in Saskatoon, to land somewhere in western Canada: And news reports: It must have been…

Carded!

Well, now there’s something that doesn’t happen to me every day–or every week. Or every month. Or every year, at least not for quite a while. Last night I stopped at our local supermarket to pick up a couple of things, one of which was a six pack of one of my favorite local brews.…

Oh. Canada.

Well, this is depressing to learn. I’d be even more depressed if I were Canadian. All I can say to my neighbors to the north is that I feel your pain, albeit belatedly. I just learned that the recently appointed Minister of State for Science and Technology within Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet is Gary…

Leave it to an infectious disease specialist (Dr. Mark Crislip) to dismantle the most recent favorite talking point of the antivaccine fringe, namely “too many too soon,” that deceptive and scientifically ignorant concept that somehow the current vaccine schedule “overwhelms” the immune system of infants, causing all manner of chronic health conditions and neurological problems,…

I had thought about taking the day off after celebrating the 100th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle yesterday, but a skeptic’s work is never done, and, besides, my wife’s out of town for a couple of days. Given the choice of television, working on my program’s section of our cancer center core grant or one…

PROLOGUE LOCATION: The Liberator, cruising through space. GAN: Are you sure it’s fully switched on? ORAC: Of course I’m properly switched on. Having depressed the activator button what else would you expect? CALLY: It’s his voice. BLAKE: It’s exactly as though Ensor were speaking. ORAC: Surely it is obvious even to the meanest intelligence that…

How I’m like Barack Obama

I realize this story is a week old, but it’s something I wanted to do a quick blog post on, and what better excuse than to get it done before tomorrow’s Skeptics’ Circle? Looking at a list of The 50 facts you might not know about Barack Obama, I found out that I share quite…

Et tu, Anthony Edwards and Dustin Hoffman?

It looks as though the Jenny McCarthy woo factor has claimed two more celebrity victims’ brains. If a recently viewed press release is any indication, it appears that Anthony Edwards and Dustin Hoffman are getting into the autism quackery business: Internet Marketing Company joins Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Edwards and others in…

When homeopaths kill by neglect

Busy, busy, busy. Between work and getting ready to for the 100th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle on Thursday as I mentioned on Monday, I’m afraid I don’t have time for my usual sterling gems of skeptically insolent prose or an analysis of a scientific paper that a couple of my readers have sent me.…

There’s no such thing as viruses?

I was in a bit of a crappy mood last night. There were a number of reasons for this, including frustration at work trying to put together two grants, trying to revise a manuscript to resubmit it, dealing with collaborators and various other headaches. Indeed I had a splitting headache by the end of the…

Welcome to the Age of Ignorance

Everyone knows that the quackery-friendly, antivaccine blog Age of Autism has a rather–shall we say?–hypocritical stance when it comes to free speech. For one thing, for all their complaints about censorship and not being heard by the government, its denizens frequently confuse freedom of speech with freedom from criticism. For another thing, they also ruthlessly…

I almost feel sorry for acupuncturists these days. Almost. Well, not exactly. Clearly, given the infiltration of woo into academic medicine, acupuncturists are in demand even in the most allegedly “science-based” of academic medical centers. After all, acupuncture is what I like to refer to as “gateway woo,” an unscientific placebo-based therapy that has somehow…

100 is on the way

As hard as it is to believe, it’s almost here. In a mere four days on Thursday, November 20, the 100th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle will land right here at its mothership for the first time in three years. As of this morning, I only have six submissions. That’s not nearly enough! I need…