Respectful Insolence

Archives for November, 2009

Submit! Submit to the Skeptics’ Circle

Well, now. With the long four day weekend that many of us here in the U.S. have enjoyed finally over, it’s time to get back to serious business. Serious, but fun. I’m referring to the upcoming 125th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle, which will be held at Effort Sisyphus on Thursday, December 3. That means…

I’ve been writing about the attempts of proponents of various pseudoscience, quackery, and faith-based religious “healing” modalities to slip provisions friendly to their interests into the health care reform bill that will be debated in the Senate beginning today. If you want to know what’s at stake, check out the first press release of a…

A couple of years ago, fellow ScienceBlogger Mark Hoofnagle over at Denialism Blog coined a most excellent term to describe all manners of pseuodscience, quackery, and crankery. The term, “crank magnetism,” describes the tendency of cranks not to mind it when they see crankery in others. More specifically, it describes how cranks of one variety…

The day before the Thanksgiving holiday, I wrote about a serious contender for the worst medical reporting of the year, if not the decade, specifically how credulous reporters had swarmed all over the case of a Belgian man named Rom Houben. If you don’t remember or haven’t heard about the details, feel free to peruse…

I happen to be fortunate enough this year to have taken the Friday after Thanksgiving off, and it is a very good thing indeed. However, this morning, having indulged in the American tradition of stuffing myself full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and various other most excellent and hearty foods, all accompanied by some hearty…

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving here in the States; so I plan on taking the day off from blogging that I might partake of the American custom of stuffing myself to the point of unconsciousness while hanging out with my family. In the meantime, bow before the genius of the Muppets, as they perform one of my favorite…

How to respond to annoying reviewers…

You know, I have three manuscripts in the hopper with two of them having recently been returned to me with reviewers’ comments. Frustratingly, one of these is a manuscript that I’ve been trying to get published for nearly a year now. Given that I appear to have some work to do over the long holiday…

Remember how I nominated a truly execrable local news report about Desiree Jennings as a serious contender for the worst reporting of the year, perhaps even of the decade? It had everything, and I seriously doubted that anything would challenge it for credulous supremacy any time soon. How wrong I was. Check out this video:…

As hard as I find it to believe, the fifth anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. When I started this whole endeavor, it was more or less on a whim that struck me on a cold, dreary, gray Saturday in December, and I had no idea that five years later I’d still be at…

Desiree Jennings: Worst reporting ever?

I hate to revisit this case again. However, some of my readers have sent me links to something that compels me to dig up the rotting corpse of Generation Rescue’s despicable attempt to use the suffering of a troubled young woman to push the idea that vaccines are harmful. I’m referring, of course, to the…

There are times when I look back, and I can’t believe I’ve been at it this long. It’s not just the blogging, the fifth anniversary of which is rapidly approaching for me. Hard as it is to believe, not only have I become a “venerable” medical and skeptical blogger, but there are actually a lot…

Before I try to leave this topic for a while (which, like so may topics in the past, has temporarily taken over the blog for the last few days), one of the comments I’ve kept hearing since I started blogging about the new USPSTF mammography guidelines is something along the lines of, “Well, if the…

The 124th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle

It’s time for another installment of that venerable (gasp!) blog carnival of skepticism, science, and critical thinking, The Skeptics’ Circle. This time, it’s the 124th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle, and it’s finally landed, late but still brimming with skeptical goodness at Beyond the Short Coat. Next up, two weeks hence, on December 3, will…

Why people ignore vaccine denialists

A lesson that’s worth learning. Of course, I only wish people ignored vaccine denialists; unfortunately, enough people don’t that vaccines are a frequent blog topic for me:

As I discussed in detail when I analyzed them, the new USPSTF recommendations for screening mammography for breast cancer have sparked a debate that has degenerated from a scientific and public policy debate into pure emotional rhetoric. When last I visited this topic, yesterday, I had intended it to be my last post for a…

I knew when I first heard about them that the new United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations on breast cancer screening would be controversial. I tried to discuss these guidelines and the issues involved in a calm and rational way, relatively devoid of Insolence, Respectful or not-so-Respectful, yesterday, pointing out that screening guidelines…

Really rethinking breast cancer screening

“Early detection saves lives.” Remember how I started a post a year and a half ago saying just this? I did it because that is the default assumption and has been so for quite a while. It’s an eminently reasonable-sounding concept that just makes sense. As I pointed out a year and a half ago,…

A dose of H1N1 flu anti-woo

If you want a dose of science and rationality about the H1N1 flu pandemic, and you need it now, check out The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. Led by Steve Novella, the discussion involves more than one friend of the blog, if you know what I mean and can be downloaded here.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in again. Yes, I know I’ve used this clip before at least twice and the line in it several more times over the last couple of years. However, sometimes it’s just so completely appropriate to how I’m feeling about a topic I’m about to…

Submit! Submit to the Skeptics’ Circle

In case you’ve forgotten, it’s only two days until that festival of critical thinking, that feast of reason, The Skeptics’ Circle to land over at Beyond the Short Coat. Instructions to submit can be found here. Please help make this Circle another success!

The New York Times has been periodically running a series about the “40 years’ war” on cancer, with most articles by Gina Kolata. I’ve touched on this series before, liking some parts of it, while others not so much. In particular, I criticized an article one article that I thought to be so misguided about…

Schadenfreude again over David Irving

Since I seem to have attracted several truly idiotic Holocaust deniers in the comments after this post, including, believe it or not, Eric Hunt, the anti-Semite who attacked Elie Wiesel at a San Francisco hotel in 2007 and who now runs a blog full of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism where he recently bragged about attending…

Remember how I proudly proclaimed the other day that I gotten my H1N1 flu vaccine? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so happy. After all, if Eric is right, then the H1N1 vaccination program is nothing more than a socialist plot by Obama-Hitler to poison Wall Street executives, and I fell for it! The shame. The…

Things have been getting a bit serious around here. Of course, there’s been a lot to get serious about, what with Suzanne Somers promoting cancer quackery, Generation Rescue exploiting a young woman with problems in order to promote its anti-vaccine agenda (leading to my “friend” J.B. Handley launching yet another hilariously off-base love letter to…

Over two weeks ago, I wrote a rather withering assessment of a truly bad article published by one of my favorite magazines, a magazine to which I’ve subscribed continuously since the mid-1980s. I’m referring, of course, to Shannon Brownlee’s and Jeanne Lenzer’s execrable article about the H1N1 vaccine entitled Does the vaccine matter? I have…