Respectful Insolence

Archives for December, 2009

NOTE: Orac is on semi-vacation this week, trying very hard to recharge his Tarial cells. Actually, although he is at home, he is spending much of his time in his Sanctum Sanctorum (i.e., his home office) working on an R01 for the February submission cycle. Given that the week between Christmas and New Years Day…

You know, when Age of Autism starts announcing its yearly “people of the year” awards, there’s always a lot of blog fodder there to be had. Given that this is the time of year when I ramp the blog down a bit and, trying to relax a little, don’t spend as much time doing detailed…

More evidence that anti-vaccine beliefs kill

Vaccines save lives. In fact, they arguably save more lives than any other medical intervention devised by human beings. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Anti-vaccine beliefs and the vaccine refusal that results from them kill. They leave children vulnerable to preventable diseases, and, sadly, here’s yet more evidence that this is true: At least…

Anti-vaccine activism, not autism activism

Remember how I said that I was trying to take it easy this week? I still am, but there’s something bugging me enough to draw me out of my grant-induced cocoon for a little while in order to pontificate on it in the not-so-Respectfully Insolent way that I am so often wont to do. True,…

The last Skeptics’ Circle of 2009…

…is fast approaching, this time to be hosted at Life, The Universe, and One Brow. Let’s make 2009 go out in style, skepticism-wise, by submitting the best skeptical blogging to the Circle for one New Year’s Eve blowout! Blog-specific instructions can be found here, and general guidelines are here.

NOTE: Orac is on semi-vacation this week, trying very hard to recharge his Tarial cells. Actually, although he is at home, he is spending much of his time in his Sanctum Sanctorum (i.e., his home office) working on an R01 for the February submission cycle. Given that the week between Christmas and New Years Day…

Seen in a parking lot while shopping about three weeks ago: I sense a disconnect between the two messages contained on the back of a very large SUV…

All I want for Christmas is…

…heavy duty firearms? Somehow, I don’t think we’re in Hammond, Indiana anymore.

While I’m recovering fro Christmas this weekend and away a good chunk of tomorrow, here’s a question to ponder as 2009 draws to its inevitable close. Val Jones has listed what she views to be the top five threats to science-based medicine that dominated 2009 and look likely to continue to threaten science in medicine…

Happy Holidays

I think that David Bowie and Bing Crosby say it best: Yeah, I know I’ve become a heathen, but I still love this song and this particular performance.

When Santa met Jack Bauer

It’s Christmas, and I hope that those of you who celebrate the day are having a merry one. Personally, I’m taking the day off from any substantive blogging, instead electing to post quickie holiday-themed stuff that amuses me. Still, it might not be so merry if everyone’s favorite elf happened to have met the wrong…

Santa Claus a fascist? Say it ain’t so!

With Santa beginning his journey through the world to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls, someone sent me a profoundly disturbing video: I knew it! I knew it! Santa gives away things; so he must be a liberal. But if you listen to Jonah Goldberg, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, you know…

If there’s one thing that’s irritated the crap out of me ever since I entered the medical field, it’s celebrities with more fame than brains or sense touting various health remedies. Of late, three such celebrities have spread more misinformation and quackery than the rest of the second tier combined. Truly, together, they are the…

Mercola sells the delusion of homeopathy

It’s a really tough competition, but if I had to choose the most ridiculous form of quackery out there, I’d have to choose homeopathy. Although it’s common for so-called “alternative” medicines to be so utterly implausible from a scientific standpoint that it is not unreasonable, barring very compelling positive evidence, to provisionally reject them as…

What researchers really mean

Ha! So true, although in academia we aren’t so much concerned with getting products into consumers’ hands; so the exact times may be different: Via xkcd, of course!

(NOTE ADDED 12/7/2010: Kim Tinkham has died of what was almost certainly metastatic breast cancer.) If there’s been one theme running through this blog every since the very beginning, it’s the unreliability of testimonials as “evidence” for the success of a cancer treatment. Indeed, if you go back to one of the very first “Orac-length”…

The worst pseudoscience of the decade?

It’s the end, the end of the ’70s It’s the end, the end of the century. Joey Ramone, 1979 As amazing as it is to me, the first decade of the 21st century is fast approaching its end. It seems like only yesterday that my wife and I were waiting for the dawn of the…

If there’s one thing that irritates me about the anti-vaccine movement, it’s the utter disingenuousness of the movement. How often do we hear the claim from anti-vaccine loons that “we’re not ‘anti-vaccine'; we’re ‘pro-safe vaccine’”? I’ve tried to pin such people down time and time again to answer just what it would take in terms…

Just can’t wait for “The End of Time”

Regular readers here know that I’m a long time Doctor Who fan. That’s why it’s with some sadness that I await the approach of the two-episode finale for David Tennant’s tenure as the Tenth Doctor. Over his three full seasons and multiple specials in 2009, Tennant redefined the role and even began to rival Tom…

Can’t cure stupid, part II

Not too long ago, I opined about how you can’t cure stupid. It turns out that there is no herbal remedy for stupid either: You will see that this is true. In fact, given the quality of arguments advocates of “natural remedies” use to support their favored woo, I have to wonder if herbs actually…

Crank magnetism strikes again

Since I happen to have fallen into the topic of anthropogenic global warming, before I move back to medical topics I might as well have a little fun. Certainly, I could use some, given that I just wrote two posts in which I felt forced to criticize someone whom I admire greatly. Besides, it’s been…

Yesterday, I wrote one of my typical Orac-ian length posts that was unusual. What was unusual about it was not its length. Rather, what was unusual about it was the target of its criticism, perhaps one of the last people in the world I would ever have expected to have to have taken issue with,…

It’s that time yet again. The Skeptics’ Circle has returned once again to provide a much needed dose of skepticism to the blogosphere. This time around, the 126th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle is being hosted over at World of Weird Things. Next up will be Life, The Universe, and One Brow, where the Skeptics’…

Remember how yesterday I said that sometimes writing this blog depresses me? At the time, I made that observation because there are times when the unending constant onslaught of pseudoscience, anti-science, and woo leads me to despair that the human race will ever overcome its cognitive defects. However, there are other times when blogging depresses…

Last week, I marked the occasion of my fifth anniversary in the blogosphere. Yesterday, my blog bud Abel Pharmboy marked his fourth anniversary in the blogosphere. Anyone who makes it past a year, as far as I’m concerned, has passed the test of time and shown himself (or herself) to be in this crazy thing…