Respectful Insolence

Archives for January, 2009

I’ve been a bit remiss about writing about this story. For that, I apologize. I realize a lot of you sent me links. For some reason, this week was an embarrassment of riches in terms of blogging material, and I didn’t have time to get to it all. With that out of the way, let…

Sepsis is not caused by bacterial infection?

Sometimes I come across something so bizarre, so utterly wrong, that my mind reels in confusion and amazement, not to mention horror, that anyone can actually think or write something something like it. In fact, for a moment I considered offering up this one bit of horrifically inspired craziness up as an installment of Your…

Sorry I’m late announcing it, but better late than never. Right on schedule, the 104th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle has arrived at Space City Skeptics. In fact, it’s the sort of thing that will test your mind and cleverness in that it’s…well, a test. But don’t worry. It’s not one of those nasty tests…

I think my title says it all: Can we finally just say that acupuncture is nothing more than an elaborate placebo? Can we? The reason I ask this question is because yet another large meta-analysis has been released that is entirely consistent with the hypothesis that acupuncture is a placebo. Because I’ve written about so…

…it smells like…fisking. In this case, it’s a fisking of a particularly annoyingly self-righteous and scientifically ignorant antivaccinationist by a medical student. The annoying drinker of the “vaccines cause autism” Kool Aid is Ginger Taylor. The medical student is Adina Cappell. The slapdown is utterly comprehensive, methodical, and ruthless, pummeling Ginger’s panoply of pseudoscience, logical…

What is science’s rightful place?

If you’ve browsed the redesigned front page of ScienceBlogs, you’ll see that our benevolent ScienceBlogs Overlords at Seed Magazine have started a project that they have so humbly termed The Rightful Place Project: Reviving Science in America, which is described thusly: In his first speech as President-elect last November, Barack Obama reminded us of the…

It looks like I’ve been sucked into another streak again. Regular readers know that examining the claims of the antivaccine movement with skepticism, science, and critical thinking has been a theme of this blog from the very beginning. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last four years, it’s that vaccine news seems to…

Am I that oblivious? Did I actually win?

When I mentioned a while back that, although I like awards as much as the next guy, I don’t go actively seeking them, I wasn’t kidding. As evidence that I wasn’t kidding, I point out that, until some of you started letting me know about it, I had no clue that I had actually won…

Sometimes, justice does find quacks

Remember the quack-friendly scammer Kevin Trudeau? Remember his book Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About? Back during the summer, he was fined $5 million and ordered not to produce or publish infomercials for products in which he had an interest. Given the huge profits he made from Natural Cures and his followup…

More disease and death among the unvaccinated

Beginning on Friday after my post expressing amazement at something as rare as a 70° F temperature in January (at least around my neck of the woods), namely an actual provaccine article in the Huffington Post, a number of you began sending me links to a story that I find most disturbing, a mini-tsunami that…

Back in December, I pointed out a Norwegian movie that the Hitler Zombie definitely approves of: Dead Snow (or Død Snø in Norwegian). After all, how can you go wrong with Nazi zombies in a remote, snow bound area in Norway attacking the usual bunch of hapless but beautiful young people? I don’t know about…

Well, it’s frigid indeed this weekend around Castle Orac. I need something to warm the cockles of the circuits in the deepest, darkest depths of winter, and I know just the thing: A heapin’ helpin’ of the best skeptical blogging out there. Fortunately, the next meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle is just around the corner,…

President Obama and technology

It’s no secret that I’m a Mac geek, at least not to any of my readers, family, or friends. Neither is it a secret at my job that I’m a Mac geek, mainly because, although the university where I’m faculty is perfectly fine with Macs, the cancer center where my laboratory, clinic, and office are…

When it comes to science, I’ve always detested The Huffington Post. Nearly four years ago, when Arianna Huffington’s vanity group political blog went live, I was the first one to notice a most disturbing trend about it. As far as I knew at the time (or know now), I was the only one to have…

A Change of Shift

The latest Change of Shift, the blog carnival for nursing, is up at Emergiblog. Be sure to check it out. I’ve also been remiss in not mentioning that Dr. Val is hosting Grand Rounds. Enjoy that, too!

Being involved in clinical research makes me aware of the ethical quandaries that can arise. Fortunately for me, for the most part my studies are straightforward and don’t provoke much in the way of angst over whether what I am doing is ethical or whether I’m approaching a line I shouldn’t approach or crossing a…

Something to be encouraged and nurtured

Regular readers here know that one of the themes of this blog is both a lament over the infiltration of quackademic medicine and a call to arms to fight it with science- and evidence-based medicine. However, to achieve this end, it won’t be enough for middle-aged farts like myself to take up the banner. We…

I got home from work rather late last night; so for once I’ll spare you my typical Orac-ian level of logorrhea today. Yes, I know how much the ravening hordes of my fans thirst for every bit of wisdom that flows from my keyboard to Seed Magazine’s servers and from there to the world, but…

A Presidency ends. A Presidency begins.

I never thought I’d finally see the day, but George W. Bush is no longer President of the United States, and Barack Obama is. I have to say, I’ve paid attention to Presidential Inaugurations since 1981, and I can’t recall one greeted with as much excitement, hope, and expectation. All around my university, in my…

About a year ago, I discussed an article by Dr. Atul Gawande describing a quality improvement initiative that appeared to have been stalled by the Office for Human Research Protections and its apparent tendency to apply human subjects research protection rules to initiatives that are not exactly research using human subjects. The problem appeared to…

This was so good that I just couldn’t resist. Yesterday, I did a quick post about an amusing bit of pareidolia, in which the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus were seen in a Lava Lamp. Apparently, an Australian man going by the pseudonym of John Smith noticed the shape in the wax as he fired…

I almost feel sorry for homeopathy Jeremy Sherr. Almost. You see, he is busily learning a lesson that HIV/AIDS denialist Celia Farber learned a couple of weeks ago, namely that, unlike the fictional nation of Oceania in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, memory holes do not work very well in the Internet age. I’ll backtrack a…

Best pareidolia ever?

Let’s see. We’ve seen the Virgin Mary on trees, under a freeway overpass in Chicago, a window in Perth Amboy, NJ, and even in the brain. We’ve seen Jesus himself show up on toast, on a piece of sheet metal, on a potato chip, on a pierogi, on a ceiling tile, and even on a…

Everyone agrees that it was an amazing demonstration of pilot skill, combined with the rapid response of a large number of people, that allowed all 155 passengers and crew members of a U. S. Airways flight that hit a flock of birds to do a controlled crash into the Hudson River to survive and be…

Autism quackery invades my hometown

I hate to see this. I really do. I really hate it to see people who think they’re doing a good thing, who think they’re raising money for a worthy charity, totally clueless that what they are doing is supporting the rankest pseudoscience and quackery. Here’s an example from my hometown of Detroit. It’s a…