Respectful Insolence

Archives for May, 2009

Simon Singh will appeal?

About a week ago, I lamented an astoundingly bad ruling in the libel case brought by the British Chiropractic Association against skeptic Simon Singh. The ruling was so bad that many observers are wondering whether it’s possible for Singh to go on or whether he can afford to appeal. Blogger Jack of Kent, who has…

While I’m on the topic, blog bud has proclaimed that he loves Jenny McCarthy’s new blog at the Oprah website, in particular her Poop Stories. Personally, when I first saw Jenny’s blog, my first thought was that a question I had always had ever since Jenny McCarthy became the chief propagandist for the antivaccine movement…

The Jenny McCarthy Song

A loving ode to Jenny McCarthy from her good friends, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella: Genius. That’s all I can say. Thank you Brian Thompson, a.k.a. the Amateur Scientist. And to you, Jenny McCarthy, the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella offer their profound thanks for saving them from eradication in the U.S., just as they’ve offered their…

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism. The reason for the hate part should be obvious. AoA is, without a doubt, a cesspool of pseudoscience and anti-vaccine propaganda. All while oh-so-self-righteously denying that its agenda is “anti-vaccine,” AoA on a daily basis lays down articles blaming…

I have to hand it to acupuncture mavens. They are persistent. Despite numerous studies failing to find any evidence that acupuncture is anything more than an elaborate placebo whose effects, such as they are, derive from nonspecifice mechanisms having nothing to do with meridians, qi, or “unblocking” qi. Moreover, consistent with the contention that acupuncture…

Who should play David Irving? Part 2

I like the way some people think, Clive Davis, for instance. Remember how, two or three weeks ago, I speculated about who would play arch-Holocaust denier David Irving in a movie that’s been optioned based on his libel suit against Holocaust historian Professor Deborah Lipstadt? Well, Clive Davis has a better idea: Cinematical suggests Emma…

Yesterday, I wrote about Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who, with the support of his parents, has refused conventional therapy for his cancer, which would normally consist of chemotherapy and radiation. Given his stage and type of tumor, he could normally expect at least an 85% chance of surviving and perhaps even…

Remember about a week ago, when I lamented how scientific publisher Elsevier had created a fake journal for Merck that reprinted content from other Elsevier journals favorable to Merck products in a format that looked every bit like a peer-reviewed journal but without any disclaimers to let the unwary know that it wasn’t a peer-reviewed…

Regular readers here know that I really hate to see stories like the one I’m about to discuss, specifically that of 13-year-old Daniel Hauser, a boy with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who is refusing chemotherapy based on religion and his preference for “alternative” therapy, whose parents are also supporting his decision. Since I’m a bit behind on…

…because they blog under the shadow of the United Kingdom’s insane libel laws. Witness this travesty of a ruling on the libel case against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association, as related by Jack of Kent. I first learned about the UK’s exceedingly plaintiff-friendly libel laws when, shortly after I became interested in Holocaust…

Jenny McCarthy shows off her intellect

I know, I know it seems like the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel, but some creature that I can’t identify is having a fight somewhere in the neighborhood, freaking out my dog, and now I can’t go back to sleep; so why not blog? In any case, I found out last week that Jenny…

After having blogged about cancer quackery for more than four years and having spent at least five years before that on the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative seeing virtually all manner of quackery, cancer and otherwise, I thought I had seen it all. Indeed, I thought that there was no form of cancer quackery that I hadn’t…

As you may recall, the last meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle never came to pass due to the illness of the host. That was to be the 110th Skeptics’ Circle. Given that I had somehow screwed up and used the same number twice, though, it all works out if I simply label this Skeptics’ Circle…

Unfortunately, Orac has been feeling a bit under the weather since last night–so much so that he actually did something he rarely does and stayed home from work. But enough with the third person schtick. If I feel better later, maybe I’ll post something. Hopefully I’ll be back to 100% tonight and can produce the…

If there’s one thing about the anti-vaccine movement in general and one of its chief mouthpieces for propaganda, the Age of Autism blog, in particular, it’s rank hypocrisy. One of the key tenets of anti-vaccine ideology is an unrelenting distrust of big pharma. While that in and of itself would not be entirely unreasonable, given…

A while back, Mark Hoofnagle coined a term that I like very much: Crank magnetism. To boil it down to its essence, crank magnetism is the phenomenon in which a person who is a crank in one area very frequently tends to be attracted to crank ideas in other, often unrelated areas. I had noticed…

Pinch me. I must be dreaming. I say that because I actually see an article in The Huffington Post in which the blogger, Jacob Dickerman, actually correctly describes why homeopathy is quackery! For instance: Homeopaths will tell us that water has a memory. That it vibrates in a certain way and thus knows exactly what…

Homeopathy kills a child

Homeopathy is water. Homeopaths will tell you otherwise. They will tell you that water “memory,” which, the way they describe it is some mystical property whereby it “remembers” the remedy with which it’s been in contact, even though the substance (whatever it was) has been diluted far beyond the point where there’s likely to be…

The best snark at Oprah Winfrey…

…comes, from of all places, Gawker: Oh, good, Oprah is going to give Jenny McCarthy a talk show, because she wants your kid to die of the measles. McCarthy, a famous celebrity from the long-defunct Playboy magazine and much missed MTV channel, has been on a crusade to find an evildoer responsible for her son’s…

Ugh. Double ugh. Sitting in my e-mail in box this morning were lots of your e-mails warning me about a bit of news that shows definitively that Oprah Winfrey is beyond redemption, at least when it comes to any sort of medicine or science (not nice, given that I hadn’t even had my morning coffee…

It’s times like these when I’m happy that I haven’t published in too many Elsevier Journals during the course of my career. I say that because on Thursday, it was revealed that pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme paid Elsevier to produce a fake medical journal that, to any superficial examination, looked like a real…

…at least that seems to be the case with this couple: Tourists enjoying a day of sightseeing at Windsor Castle got more than they bargained for today when a couple were caught having sex on the Queen’s lawn. Ignoring signs asking visitors to Please Keep Off The Grass, the man and woman, said to be…

PalMD, PalMD, PalMD…why did you have to make me aware of this? What Most Doctors Won’t Tell You About Preparing for the Swine Flu The blogger, Lisa Sharkey, opines: What can I do to keep my family safe? How can I boost our immune systems now and what complementary medicines can I begin taking immediately,…

I’ve been complaining about the antivaccine lunacy at The Huffington Post for a very long time–since a mere two or three weeks after The Huffington Post first came into existence, when it had already become apparent that, in terms of health coverage, HuffPo was nothing more than Arianna’s Happy Home for Loony Antivaccinationists. Lately, I’ve…

Ever since I started this little vanity bit known as Your Friday Dose of Woo, lo, these nearly three years ago, when I introduced the waiting blogosphere to the woo-tastic quantum homeopathic stylings of Lionel Milgrom, I’ve occasionally wondered if I had started out with too much woo. I mean, Milgrom is a really hard…