Respectful Insolence

Archives for July, 2009

You may remember a couple of months ago, I took Dr. Bob Sears to task. Dr. Bob, as you may recall, wrote a book that has become the bane of pediatricians everywhere, namely The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. In this book, Dr. Bob, while oh-so-piously proclaiming that he is “not…

One of the advantages of having been a blogger for nearly five years is that you gain a sense of perspective after having written about various issues over and over for a long time. True, the disadvantage is that it sometimes becomes difficult to think of something new to say about longstanding issues. Even so,…

It’s that time yet again, time for another meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle. This time around, Beyond the Short Coat hosts a nightmare. No, really, a nightmare. Remember Mitchell and Web’s vision of what a Homeopathic A & E would look like? The 116th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle goes way, way beyond that. Here’s…

Up all night

The last couple of nights, I guess, have proven that Orac is not quite as durable as his namesake. Having been up nearly all night working against a deadline for my Komen Foundation grant application and only gotten a couple of hours of sleep each of the last couple of nights, this morning, I’ve got…

The evolution of surgery: robots

I realize this is well over a month old, and maybe some of you have seen it before, but I haven’t. It’s a fascinating look by surgeon and inventor Catherine Mohr at the history of surgery and how it has evolved over the centuries. One thing that talks like this remind me is just how…

A while back, I wrote about the grievous miscarriage of justice that occurred to Simon Singh in the form of a ruling against him in the libel suit brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association. Suffice it to say, that the BCA is using the U.K.’s exceedingly plaintiff-friendly libel laws to silence legitimate criticism…

Birthers on parade

You may have heard of the lunatic fringe contingent that thinks that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and thus not eligible to be President of the United States according to the Constitution. They’re incredible cranks, cooking up all manner of dire conspiracy theories about a doctored birth certificate and…

In discussions of that bastion of what Harriet Hall (a.k.a. The SkepDoc) likes to call “tooth fairy science,” where sometimes rigorous science, sometimes not, is applied to the study of hypotheses that are utterly implausible and incredible from a basic science standpoint (such as homeopathy or reiki), the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine…

Bill Maher and “anti-science”

Last week, I expressed my surprise and dismay that the Atheist Alliance International chose Bill Maher for the Richard Dawkins Award. I was dismayed because Maher has championed pseudoscience, including dangerous antivaccine nonsense, germ theory denialism complete with repeating myths about Louis Pasteur supposedly recanting on his deathbed, a hostility towards “Western medicine” and an…

As hard as it is to believe, it’s been a week and a half since the last time the skeptics of the Skeptics’ Circle met. The next meeting will soon be upon it, but it can’t happen unless you make it happen. This time it will be hosted at Beyond the Short Coat, and instructions…

While I’m holed up in my Sanctum Sanctorum grinding out prose that I hope will keep my lab funded for another three years, I’m going to fall back on a lazy blogging trick to keep the posts flowing for one more day, namely the obnoxious reader e-mail. (Don’t worry, there’ll be new insolence tomorrow.) This…

Last night, I received an e-mail from a fairly well-known atheist (no, it wasn’t Richard Dawkins, although that would have been totally cool) criticizing me for my post about Bill Maher’s complete unsuitability for the Richard Dawkins Award. I’m not going to reprint my response to that part, because, well, his criticisms were pretty much…

It’s been a pretty good week on the ol’ blog here, with lots of good material to draw from, finishing up yesterday with my expression of disdain for the choice of Bill Maher for the Richard Dawkins Award. I expected some blowback for my criticism, and I got some. However, I was surprised at how…

The only thing he’s left out is a takedown of Nazi analogies. After all, Nazis wanted universal health care, too, except that they wanted to guarantee the health of the volk more than any individual: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c

Although I often don’t agree with him and have cooled on him lately, I still rather like–even admire–Richard Dawkins. While it’s true I’ve taken him to task for having a tin ear for bioethics, lamented his walking blindly right into charges of anti-Semitism (no, I don’t think he’s an anti-Semite), and half-defended/half-criticized him for seeming…

This may be the burningest stupid I’ve ever seen about vaccines. Maybe. It’s so hard to tell given how much idiocy I’ve seen about vaccines. I know, it’s really, really hard to believe me when I say that what follows deserves to leap right up to the top ranks of brain-melting moronicity. After all, over…

Ever since Jenny McCarthy hitched her fading star to the anti-vaccine movement and managed to get Oprah Winfrey to go along for the ride, she has become the public face of the anti-vaccine movement. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been nearly as much blowback as there should be in the mainstream press, although bloggers have been all…

If there’s one characteristic of the anti-vaccine movement that helps define them as true cranks, it’s a streak of conspiracy theory mania. It’s not too much of an exaggeration when I wonder if they think that the Lizard Men have taken over the government, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics in order to…

I’ve had a lot of fun over the last couple of years deconstructing the black holes of woo that a certain advocate of “natural” remedies likes to lay down on a regular basis. Yes, I’m referring to a guy named Mike Adams, who runs a website called NaturalNews.com. Indeed, Adams has made NaturalNews.com a bastion…

…as the last Virgin Mary sighting in a bird turd smear on a pickup truck. At least this time around, we’re back to more conventional “Virgin Mary in a tree”-type sightings: (Click on image for video.) Of course, this time around, I have to wonder if the guy who cut the tree down is having…

Screening for disease, especially cancer, is a real bitch. I was reminded of this by the publication of a study in BMJ the very day of the Science-Based Medicine Conference a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, between The Amaz!ng Meeting and other activities, I was too busy to give this study the attention it…

While we’re on the subject of pareidolia, it turns out that Mitchell and Webb have taken this topic on as well… Awesome.

Everyone knows that I’m a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia. Pareidolia, for those not familiar with the term, is a phenomenon where humans see patterns in various things, you know, like seeing Elvis in a flame or the Virgin Mary on a stain under a freeway overpass in Chicago or in a window blotch…

It may be a day late, but it was worth it. The latest installment of the Skeptics’ Circle, that long-running blog carnival of skepticism and critical thinking (hey, four and a half years is a really long time in the blogosphere). This time around, let TechSkeptic take you on A Skeptical Journey Through the Universe,…

I realize that this week in practically every new post I’ve been mentioning TAM7. It hasn’t exactly been intentional, believe it or not, at least aside from my recap a on Tuesday and my request for photos from those of you who attended. Oddly enough, although I mentioned how proud I was to be part…