Respectful Insolence

Archives for February, 2009

Unfortunately, as we have been dreading for the last four months or so since her relapse was diagnosed, my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer in hospice. She died peacefully, with my wife and the rest of her family at her side. As you might expect, I do not much feel like blogging. Because I…

Be sure to check it out at It’s the Thought That Counts.

A death in the family

I would like to thank all of you who have notified me of the decision for the three test cases in the Autism Omnibus hearings before the Vaccine Court. Science actually won in the courts, something you just can’t count on with any reliability. It even won resoundingly. I also realize that, as much as…

Brian Deer responds to Keith Olbermann

Last night, I lambasted Countdown host Keith Olbermann for having been played by the antivaccine movement and having unjustly slimed British journalist Brian Deer. Clearly, Olbermann was so blinded by his hatred of Rupert Murdoch that all chief apologist for the antivaccine movement, former freelance journalist David Kirby, had to do was mention that The…

Today is Darwin Day. But, more than that, it is a very special Darwin Day in that it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. This day is meant to celebrate not just the life, but especially the discoveries, of Charles Darwin. His theory of evolution by natural selection, is…

Stick a fork in Keith Olbermann. He’s done. He has now officially degenerated into a liberal version of Rush Limbaugh, except that Rush Limbaugh is occasionally funny. Maybe he’s more like Sean Hannity, particularly in his apparent dedication to the truth, or, rather, lack thereof. Hannity detests liberals and will immediately attack on the slightest…

Bummer about them vitamins…again

I have to say, this is getting monotonous. Let me back up a minute. One of the most common beliefs among users and advocates of “complementary and alternative” medicine (CAM) is that supplementation with vitamins will have all sorts of beneficial health effects. True, this belief is also pervasive among people who wouldn’t go to…

Andrew Wakefield: Worst person in the world

I’m not as big a fan of Keith Olbermann as I used to be. Indeed, sometimes he strikes me as the liberal version of Rush Limbaugh, not to mention a blowhard. However, occasionally, he still has it, and when he’s on, no one skewers the dishonest better than he does. For instance, after a media…

Poor Jeni Barnett. You remember Jeni Barnett, don’t you? She’s the U.K. radio host whose ill-informed rants against vaccines Ben Goldacre exposed so gloriously last week. Unfortunately, the price Ben paid consisted of threats of legal action for “copyright infringement” in the form of his having posted audio of the relevant segment of Barnett’s show.…

Because of the fallout from the revelation by Brian Deer that very likely Andrew Wakefield, hero of the antivaccine movement but, alas for his worshipers, one of the most dishonest and incompetent scientists who ever lived, had almost certainly falsified data for his infamous 1998 Lancet paper that launched a decade-long anti-MMR hysteria that shows…

When the economy tanks, psychics prosper

I should have seen this one coming. After all, the economy’s been in the crapper for several months now. Things are bad and getting worse, with the bottom not yet in sight. So who could prosper in this environment, except for repo men and liquor stores? Psychics, of course: NEW YORK (CNN) – The housing…

Autism quackery invades my hometown, part II

Not again. I have no way of knowing if the media in my hometown happen to be more credulous when it comes to pseudoscience than average, but, given the number of stories referred to me emanating from Detroit and its surrounding suburbs, you’ll forgive me if I’m very depressed right now. For instance, we have…

Pity Andrew Wakefield. Actually, on second thought, Wakefield deserves no pity. After all, he is the man who almost single-handedly launched the scare over the MMR vaccine in Britain when he published his infamous Lancet paper in 1998 in which he claimed to have linked the MMR vaccine to regressive autism and inflammation of the…

Sometimes, woo makes the news. Does anyone remember “Professor” Bill Nelson, the cross-dressing “inventor” who created a most amazing woo machine? I’ve written about it three times before: Your Friday Dose of Woo: Miraculous quest for the quantum Your Friday Dose of Woo: Serious woo from Down Under The SCIO, Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface, and…

If I lived in the U.K., I don’t know if I could blog. After all, the U.K. has some of the most plaintiff-friendly libel laws in the world, far more so than here in the U.S., in that in a libel case it is up to the defendant to prove that what he wrote is…

I realize that I’ve been neglecting my woo. Indeed, yesterday I noticed that it’s been a month and a half since I did a real Friday Dose of Woo. Of course, that particular installation of my long-running blog series (over two and a half years!) was some incredibly powerful woo. In fact, it was titanic,…

I guess even the Vatican responds to public pressure, if it’s intense enough. Last week, I noted an extremely disturbing story, a story that outraged me, a story that I would have found even more disturbing were I still a practicing Catholic but that I found disturbing enough even though I no longer am one.…

The silliest kerfuffle ever?

Lately ScienceBlogs has been “buzzing” with a story that, at the risk of needing to don an asbestos suit for the insults that may come my way, I find utterly ridiculous. Here’s the context: The Blogosphere is abuzz about an article in the LA Times regarding Second Lady Jill Biden’s preference to be acknowledged by…

It’s really hard to take David Kirby seriously any more. Well, actually, it’s been hard to take him seriously for at nearly four years now, ever since he wrote his paean to antivaccinationists, Evidence of Harm, in which no conspiracy-mongering related to mercury as an alleged cause of autism was too out there, too ridiculous,…

Ten months ago, I thought I was joking. I really did. Regular readers may (or may not) remember back in March, when, in one of my usual flights of fancy, I decided that I could write a short fictional interlude, a combat scene. True, I didn’t do it because I wanted actually to write a…

Dr. Jay Gordon: Get away from my alma mater!

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this before at least a couple of times, but I am an alumnus of the University of Michigan twice over. I completed a B.S. in Chemistry with Honors there and then I stayed on to do obtain my M.D. Several of my longtime friendships were forged or solidified during…

I love Tim Minchin. I also totally understand where he’s coming from when it comes to confronting woo, though, as I’ve described here. In any case, see Tim in action (parts may be NSFW due to profanity): Enjoy, as I’m running a bit late in producing my usual content for Monday. Fear not, it’s coming…

Sometimes, coincidence is a strange thing indeed. Friday, I wrote this post about yet another meta-analysis whose results are completely consistent with acupuncture being nothing more than an elaborate placebo. Later that day, less than four hours after my post went live, I received this e-mail sent, not to my work account or my other…