Respectful Insolence

Archives for June, 2009

Don’t forget, everyone: The Skeptics’ Circle is fast approaching. It’s due to appear at The Unincredible Hallq on Thursday, June 18. Don’t forget to get your submissions to Chris here before it’s too late. Guidelines are here.

I bet you didn’t know this (maybe because of homeopathic publicity), but today is the first day of Homeopathy Awareness Week, which runs from June 14 to 21. It turns out that I’m torn over whether to mention or do much about this. On the one hand, publicizing the magical, mystical thinking that is homeopathy…

American medical care at its finest

What should a doctor recommend for a 90 year old man with pancreatic cancer and liver metastases? Palliative care? Hospice? Those would seem to be the most reasonable options. If I were that 90 year old man, that’s what I’d recommend. Unfortunately, I know from experience that that is all too often not what happens.…

I was very happy with NEWSWEEK recently, specifically because of its lengthy expose of Oprah Winfrey and her promotion of pseudoscience, mysticism, and quackery on her talk show. However, I haven’t always been that thrilled with NEWSWEEK’s coverage of medicine and science. For example, NEWSWEEK’s science columnist Sharon Begley has gotten on my nerves on…

Oprah and Chopra sittin’ in a tree…

I know I’ve been very hard on Oprah Winfrey the last couple of weeks, taking her to task for her promotion on her show of medicine that is at best dubious and at worst quackery, as promoted by frequent guests like Suzanne Somers, Dr. Christiane Northrup, and the queen of the anti-vaccine movement, Jenny “I’m…

The AP shoots and scores again

I never thought I’d see it, but I have. After an a decent article on the infiltration of quackademic medicine into American medical centers and a very good article on cancer quackery, Marilyn Marchione of the AP has done it again: AP IMPACT: $2.5B spent, no alternative med cures It almost seems as though Ms.…

Holocaust denial and hate

One of the common topics I discuss on this blog is Holocaust denial. Indeed, I’ve been opposing Holocaust denial on various online forums for ten years now. I’ve castigated David Irving, mocked Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his worldwide Holocaust denial conference, and made frequent comments about how Holocaust denial is inextricably linked with anti-Semitism and racism,…

“Empowerment.” What a grand word! After all, who doesn’t want to be “empowered”? Certainly not me. Perhaps that’s the reason why it’s become the new buzzword in a movement known as “patient-centered” care. Old fart that I am, I’m a bit puzzled by exactly what that term means. After all, I’ve always thought I have…

Yesterday, I marveled at an article that appeared on the Associated Press new feed that basically said a lot of things about the infiltration of quackademic medicine into academic medical centers, how so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” 9CAM) is finding its way into the mainstream despite almost nonexistent evidence for the efficacy the vast majority…

Vaccines have saved more lives and prevented more suffering than any medical invention ever conceived by humans. However, to be most effective, a large enough fraction of the population to produce herd immunity needs to be immunized. When the herd immunity threshold is reached, then the chances of anyone carrying a microorganism to cause disease…

Here we go again. As regular readers know, I’ve lamented long and loud the infiltration of unscientific “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM, or what Dr. RW dubbed “quackademic medicine, a term I very much like) into medical school curricula, academic medical centers, and postgraduate medical education. A while back, in particular, I got rather worked…

I’m busy working on a talk today, but there is a tidbit that lends itself to a brief (and hopefully amusing and educational) Sunday exercise. It comes, not surprisingly, from the anti-vaccine blog Age of Autism. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with vaccines per se, but it is a perfect encapsulation of the…

Dr. Jay is back. You remember Dr. Jay (namely Dr. Jay “I’m not anti-vaccine but I give vaccines only ‘reluctantly‘ and am convinced that they cause autism” Gordon), pediatrician to Evan, Jenny McCarthy’s son and frequent apologist for the antivaccine movement in the media. Specifically, he was most unhappy over my posts about Dr. Bob…

SETTING: A NONDESCRIPT CLINIC IN AUSTIN, TEXAS TIME: AFTER DARK It had been a long, hard day at the clinic. The man trudged to the back of the building and plopped himself down on a large, cushy leather office chair, causing it to spin around. He was fiftyish, but still boyish in appearance, possessed of…

Skeptics, unfortunately, have an image problem. The woo-loving crowd thinks we’re all stodgy and buzz-killing, but we like to party just as much as anyone else. Indeed, the latest Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle is proof positive, as our host Cheshire hosts a Skeptic Party. Next up is the Unincredible Hallq, who, I hope, will…

Back in May many of us in the skeptical blogosphere were alarmed to learn of what British law blogger Jack of Kent termed “an astonishingly illiberal ruling” by Sir David Eady against science writer Simon Singh. Eady was the judge presiding over another bit of legal thuggery by practitioners whose feelings were hurt when Simon…

Paying the price of vaccine refusal

I’ve warned time and time again what the price will be if the Jenny McCarthy and her fellow arrogantly ignorant band of vaccine “skeptics” continue to get more and more traction. So have many others. It is true that, for the moment, vaccination rates overall remain high in the U.S., but there are numerous troubling…

So true, so true…

What should a drug company do if it spends millions of dollars on a compound and it doesn’t do anything? Easy: (Click on the panel to see the whole cartoon.) In fact, I’m surprised more pharmaceutical companies don’t do this…

Yesterday, I wrote a post about what fellow ScienceBlogger Isis would term “hot, hot science.” As much as I love science like that, writing such posts is a lot of work and takes considerably longer than my run-of-the-mill bit of insolent brilliance. Often, after writing an analysis of a peer-reviewed paper like that, I need…

Three years ago, I wrote about what I considered to be a fascinating and promising approach to understanding tumor biology. This method involved understanding that tumors are in general made up of a heterogeneous collection of cells. Using this knowledge, it is possible to apply evolutionary principles to cancer, treating a tumor as, in essence,…

Silence is the enemy

These days, I don’t often participate in mass bloggings about various topics, at least not as much as I used to. I can’t say if it’s laziness or being jaded after having blogged on nearly a daily basis for over four years now, or an ornery tendency to want to go my own way these…

Oprah and Jenny McCarthy: A woo too far

Last week I wrote a bit about what I’ve been tempted to call Oprah’s War on Science but settled for the title of a documentary called The Oprah Effect. The reason, as I have mentioned before, is that arguably there is no single person who does more to promote pseudoscientific and dubious health practices than…

Sadly, The Onion gets this one right

Want to know how Jenny McCarthy, J.B. Handley, other anti-vaccine advocates, creationists, quacks, 9/11 Truthers, and cranks and pseudoscientists of all stripes manage to be heard when they have no science, evidence, reason, logic, or facts on their side? Sadly, The Onion knows: Oh, No! It’s Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run! At first,…