Respectful Insolence

As long as a Presidential term in office…

For once, I actually managed not to miss it. For once, this day hasn’t passed me by, leaving me not to remember its significance for a couple of days.

For once, I haven’t forgotten my blogiversary.

Yes, as hard as it is to believe, I’ve been at this more or less nonstop just as long as a Presidential term in office. It all began on a dank, overcast Saturday afternoon in December four years ago today. What whim struck me to sit down in front of my computer and use Blogger to create my original blog I have no idea, but I did. Maybe it was because I had become tired of sparring with Holocaust deniers in the Usenet newsgroup alt.revisionism and with alt-med mavens like Ilena Rosenthal on misc.health.alternative, as well as other advocates of pseudoscience on other newsgroups. Such writing, while fun, was reactive against pseudoscience and irrationality, and I had decided to become proactive.

And so Respectful Insolence was born with this post.

Reading that first post again four years later, I’m actually pretty amazed at how true to my original hastily conceived vision I’ve been. The only things in that first list of what I wanted to do that I really haven’t done that much of are movie and music reviews and posts about science fiction and fantasy. In retrospect, that’s probably not such a bad thing. True, I still do my “top ten” list at the end of the year of the best CDs of the year, and occasionally I geek out with Star Wars, Star Trek, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others. Even more amazing to me is that I still enjoy blogging now as much as I did then, if not even more so. Even as my level of responsibility at my job has grown, somehow I still manage to find time to devote to my hobby, usually while sitting on the couch watching TV after 9 or 10 PM. True, my blogging activity may have waxed and waned over these last years, with periods of time when I tried to reach P.Z., Bora in the old days, or Greg levels of rapid fire blogging, and other times when I could barely manage to keep posting. But somehow I persevered, and now I’m actually, much to my surprise, not only well-established but pretty popular. Indeed, four years on, I still remain continually amazed at the number of people who stop by on a regular basis to check out what I’m laying down and that the Seed Media Group actually contacted me nearly three years ago to add my uniqueness to their collective, so to speak.

So what’s next? Well, for today, nothing. Other than this uncharacteristically brief bit of navel-gazing, I plan on taking the rest of today off from the blog. I have a morning symposium to attend, and the O.R. awaits me this afternoon.

After that, well…the future remains unwritten. For the moment, I haven’t decided. It’s conceivable that this could remain my hobby until the day I finally drop dead, or someday I may decide that I need to take Orac’s insolence into different realms. For instance, I’ve always wanted to write a book, and one thing I know for sure is that that I can’t do that and keep blogging–at least not if I remain employed. There aren’t enough hours in a day, and I’d end up in divorce court if I tried. In the meantime I blog in my spare time. it’s become such a part of my life that, right now at least, I can’t imagine life without it aside from taking some time off every year for vacation.

Whatever the future holds, of one thing you can be sure. My commitment to rationality over superstition, science over pseudoscience, and science-based medicine over quackery will remain. If I ever take a hiatus or leave blogging, it will only be to bring the message to a different medium. However, it’s pretty hard to imagine a media where I can influence a few thousand readers every day, barring lightning striking and my somehow penning a best seller or becoming a celebrity, both of which are incredibly unlikely.

After four years, though, I would like to ask you, my readers, a favor. Newbies, take a little time and peruse the archives. Long-time readers, let me know what your very favorite posts have been over the history of this blog. If you want, you can even tell me which posts you hated the most. Maybe, if I get enough input and the mood strikes me, I’ll compile a “best of” and “worst of” Orac. At the very least it’ll provide a fascinating combination of ego stroking and much-needed humility.

Thus endeth the obligatory blog navel-gazing. Tomorrow morning, year five begins.

Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    December 11, 2008

    Happy blogiversary!!!!

  2. #2 mk
    December 11, 2008

    Congrats Dr. Orac!

    Don’t miss the Amanda Peet interview on NPR!

  3. #3 Dawn
    December 11, 2008

    Happy blogiversary, Orac! Not sure if I can give a “favorite” post…I’ll have to go over the archives and see if one strikes me.

  4. #4 rlbates
    December 11, 2008

    Congrats! There’s no term limit on a good blog, so here’s hoping you’ll be around for a long time.

  5. #5 MitoScientist
    December 11, 2008

    Hands down, my favorite post was the explanation of what it was like to be a MD/PhD and conduct research in addition to clinical work. As a young scientist with a desire to go in that direction, it was great to see some candor with regards to what the lifestyle entails.

  6. #6 Joseph C.
    December 11, 2008

    Congrats Orac! You put a lot of hard work into RI and it really shows.

  7. #7 Flex
    December 11, 2008

    Happy blogiversity!

    I followed you from your original blog, and hope follow your writings for many more years.

  8. #8 Inquisitive Raven
    December 11, 2008

    Congrats Orac. As for favorite posts…hmm. That’s a toughie. I’m not sure I can name a specific post, but I do like some of your patient histories.

    Oh, Vox apparently has a new gig. I thought folks should know so they can avoid it.

  9. #9 The Perky Skeptic
    December 11, 2008

    Congratulations! :) Your blog has been a very positive force in my life, and I hope you continue for a very long time!

    My favorites are Orange Man, your deconstructions of Deepak Chopra, and ALL of your ones on vaccine issues! (Erm. Was that at all helpful? I seem to have favoritized most of your blog!)

  10. #10 Joseph C.
    December 11, 2008

    My favorites are your articles about Mike Adams. Sure he’s an easy target, but I think it’s an important illustration of just how far woo can go.

  11. #11 notedscholar
    December 11, 2008

    That’s a long time of blogging!

    Well, although we’ve had out disagreements over the months, I’m happy you’ve stuck with it!

    Keep up the interesting work!

    NS
    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/

  12. #13 I am so wise
    December 11, 2008

    Happy Blog Day to you. Happy Blog Day to you. Happy Blog Day Dear Orac. Happy Blog Day to you. Happy Blog to You.

    You better be grateful because I apparently violated the law and owe the copyright holders of “Happy Birthday to You” like $10,000.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birthday_to_You)

  13. #14 Liz Ditz
    December 11, 2008

    Happy Blogiversary to you, dear can of blinking lights. I’ve learned a great deal following you for the last four years — I think I started reading RI in January 2005.

  14. #15 DavidCT
    December 11, 2008

    Definitely one of my favorite reads. If I get bored here there is always SBM. Thanks for some great posts!

  15. #16 Liz Ditz
    December 11, 2008

    Found the first link to you from my blog:

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2005/01/new_medblog_res.html

    I don’t remember how I found your blog though….

  16. #17 Dr. Val
    December 11, 2008

    “Can I post at least a couple of times a week for an extended period of time? We’ll see.”

    Pretty amazing stamina, I’d say! My favorite post was the one about “you know you’re an altie if…” That really helped me understand that the crazy people at my place of employment were actually a genre.

    Least favorite… honestly? They’re all well written, but I guess I personally don’t feel as strongly about creationists as you do – I’d rather be off slaying snake oil salesmen selling false hopes to cancer patients than taking granny to task about her religious views. :)

    Keep up the great work – you saved me from shruggie world! I only hope to do the same for a few others.

  17. #18 MJ
    December 11, 2008

    The best post I have read (or atleast I think) was “A most uncomfortable question”.Religion or lack there of shouldn’t matter when it comes to if you are skilled doctor/have the best bedside matter/etc…Last year when I was facing possible cancer my doctor’s religion was the last thing on my mind.Being a Non-Spiritualist and the way I see like minded people treated I think it’s a very unfair question for a patient to ask a doctor.By the way since I have taken up Non-Spiritualist/Freethought label I have recieved better treatment by others.It’s all in the labels.

  18. #19 Sally
    December 11, 2008

    Thanks very much for your effort and your blog. I only subscribe to two blogs and yours is one of them.

    Your blog often gives me despair about the mentality/education level of so many in our country, yet you also delight me with your stories of enlightenment in surprising areas. For instance, your reference to the Laurie-O’Brien interview last week.

    Please don’t stop blogging when you start on your book. I can survive on fewer posts from you but I dread the prospect of zero posts.

  19. #20 Patrick
    December 11, 2008

    … and many mooooooore!

  20. #21 PalMD
    December 11, 2008

    I was going to drop a note here, but I didn’t have enough space, so it’s up at my place.

  21. #22 Joseph C.
    December 11, 2008

    Least favorite… honestly? They’re all well written, but I guess I personally don’t feel as strongly about creationists as you do – I’d rather be off slaying snake oil salesmen selling false hopes to cancer patients than taking granny to task about her religious views. :)

    That’s not it at all. In case you haven’t noticed, the creationists drive and perpetuate the row by trying to bully religion into the science classroom. Scientists rightly point out that creationism and ID are inherently unscientific and have no place in a biology class. If the religious would keep their religion as purely religion, there’d be nothing to talk about.

  22. #23 HCN
    December 11, 2008

    Back in the days when I hung around misc.health.alternative, I knew to always click on the the messages by “orac”. Then I followed you to Oracknows and here.

    Congratulations!

  23. #24 medrecgal
    December 11, 2008

    Happy blogiversary to one of the sanest guys I know of in the blogosphere! As someone with a no-BS medical background who couldn’t hack it to get to medical school, I’ve always enjoyed the heavy dose of skepticism and anti-woo that permeates this blog. Yes, scientific medicine has its ups and downs like any other human endeavor, but I’d want the best brains around if I was sick enough to need them!

  24. #25 afarensis, FCD
    December 11, 2008

    Happy blogiversary, and may you have many more!

  25. #26 Dan Howitt
    December 12, 2008

    Nice article:))

    Dan Howitt

  26. #27 DBC
    December 12, 2008

    /delurking

    Been lurking you for a little over three years now. I think you’ve improved, in style and humor. And that comes from someone who thought you were a darn good blogger in the beginning.

    Four More Years!

    /relurking

  27. #28 Andrew Dodds
    December 12, 2008

    Of course, I’m sure that within the next four years, all anti-vaccinationists, woo-meisters, creationists, inappropriate hitler analogy users, holocaust deniers, etc, etc, will realise the error of their ways as a new Enlightment dawns and ignorance retreats..

    OTOH, you could be posting until your consiousness has been ironically transferred to a computer contained in a transparent plastic cube due to the decay of your body. Either is good.

  28. #29 Debra Duncan
    December 12, 2008

    Hey Orac,

    I hold you and PZ soley responsible for me not being too on-the-ball at work, and the reason why co-workers ask me why I am hootin’ and hollerin’ and pumping my arm in the air with delight.
    As a PhD in epidemiology (from UCB no less) and as the mother of an autistic kid (and having survived fundamentalist parents-in-law), I read your blogs, I forward them to people, I realise that I am not the nut!!!! Our family also has a dog that is the touchstone for my special child, and my heart was with you on your companion’s demise.
    Please keep going – at the very least to validate my own beliefs!

  29. #30 LC
    December 12, 2008

    The one I can _always_ remember is the tale of “Orange Man”. Not sure why but if I had to name a RI post that one always jumps to mind.

    As for ones I disliked enough to pay more than passing attention to them – there are a few, but it is probably more of a personal opinion than anything else so no real point in searching for and listing them. :)

  30. #31 Thomas
    December 12, 2008

    I´ve only read your blog for a couple of months, but my favourite so far was the post you did over at “that other blog” about a woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer but chose alternative treatments and disappeared. Then when she returned a couple of years later her cancer had spread and would almost certainly kill her. That was so emotional and sad.

    Also, one of the first posts I read here was about your dog dying. I actually cried.

    So if it was my choice you´d stick to the sappy stuff :)

    And I thank you for introducing me to skepticism, reason and science at a time in my life when I was so low I might have otherwise drifted into woo-woo-land. Yes, I was reading self-help blogs and people writing about psychic “experiences” and angels. Then, I clicked on a link here I found on Polite Dissent after reading Scotts excellent reviews on House. That introduced me to the skeptical blogosphere and I was immediately hooked. I read RI, SBM and Pharyngula for two or three days from morning to evening, browsing their archives. Just hypnotised by it. So in a way, House made me a skeptic! Isn´t that beautiful? Since then I read Respectful Insolence daily. I never comment, but today I did just to let you know how much you´re appreciated. Keep it up!

  31. #32 Danimal
    December 12, 2008

    Orac, happy blogiversary!! I discovered your blog though a link from Dr. Michael Siegel’s bold to MarkH’s blog and then from MarkH’s blog to here and then also discovered the rest of ScienceBlogs. I still think second hand smoke (SHS) research is a bunch of overblown crap. But since then I have been an almost daily reader of yours, the Denialist blog, and well as other ScienceBlogs. Articles I like least or those with to much medical jargon and excess length. But I like your snarky writing style and yours is one of my favorite blogs. Now if I could only get you to change your opinion about the dangers of SHS since most of the science behind it is crap (research bias, funding bias, publication bias, etc.) then your’s would be my favorite. But that is not the point of this post. Happy blogiversary!!

  32. #33 Shay
    December 12, 2008

    And many more…

    As a normal rational adult human being with no background in the sciences, I have found your site very informative, eminently readable, and a lot of fun. You have been my go-to guy on a number of topics. Please keep up the good work.

  33. #34 Joe
    December 12, 2008

    Orac,

    you write on topics about which I am just not interested. For example, my father may not have liberated Nazi camps; but he saw them before all the victims were relocated. As a historian, he made the reality of the holocaust clear to me. History is fascinating, I just have other fish to fry.

    I must have seen more than 1,000 of your posts, it is difficult to say which were your best. I regularly cite your quackademic medicine aggregator.

    The most important to me were the ones where you explained that surgery can cure certain cancers (and other treatments can cure several other types of the disease). I grew up in the age of 5-year-survival percentages.

  34. #35 Blake Stacey
    December 12, 2008

    Felis natalis tibi,
    Felis natalis tibi,
    Felis natalis carus Orac,
    Felis natalis tibi!

  35. #36 John Morales
    December 12, 2008

    Congratulations, Orac. I’ve been reading your blog since the days prior to your assimilation (though not from the very start).

  36. #37 Marilyn Mann
    December 13, 2008

    Keep up the good work. I especially enjoy when you write about breast cancer, for obvious reasons (I’m a breast cancer survivor).

  37. #38 mayhempix
    December 14, 2008

    Congtrats on 4 years of remaining respectfully insolent.

    It is also a pleasure to see your comments pop up on Pharyngula form time to time.

  38. #39 Alligator
    December 14, 2008

    My hatred of Airborne and the people who “swear by it” brought me to your blog. Before I read your post on Airborne quackery, my hatred was limited to it’s marketing pitch. That no one I knew was skeptical of pills whose sole credential was “Created by a teacher!” and that they considered this a good thing was infuriating, especially because I could envision the corporate brainstorming session that produced this nonsense. (“People will think that teachers know some secret they don’t — they’ll never question it!”)

    Then I read your post and my hatred became raging, spitting hatred and contempt. I’ve been happily hooked ever since.

    I’ve become so interested in the anti-vaccination movement that I’m writing a term paper about it for one of my classes. Your blog has been invaluable for research and I am deeply grateful that your blog has given me a paper topic that fascinates me — I can’t think of another topic within the required subject matter that I actually would have cared about.

    Also, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts on Nazi medical research. I’ve often wondered how much (if at all) that research contributed to modern medicine and, if so, whether anyone acknowledged it.

    Thanks for writing a cogent, fascinating, insightful, intelligent, and funny blog. Also, thanks for caring about proper grammar, usage and mechanics. It shows.

  39. #40 Art
    December 15, 2008

    Congratulations on your fourth.

    The woo, crap and pseudoscience will never die. People will always seek and favor easy answers that mesh well with their biases.

    Most enjoy thinking they are insiders sharing valuable secrets that the ‘establishment’ doesn’t want you to know. Everyone has a bit of the rebel and desires to be ‘special’ and in-the-know.

    Belatedly, I’m running several days behind on my reading, I offer up a heartfelt: Keep up the good work.

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