Respectful Insolence

Archives for September, 2010

While I’m otherwise indisposed…

…take a gander at this post by Steve Novella about Gary Kompothecras and Charlie Crist and how they are endangering children’s health in Florida by promoting the father-son team of antivaccine pseudoscientists Mark and David Geier, the very same issue I wrote about yesterday. Fear not. The end is in sight. The logorrheic insolence you…

It’s grant crunch time, which almost always means that a lot of stuff happens that I don’t have time to write about and that the week after I submit it (i.e., next week) usually nothing interesting happens to write about and I’m left posting LOL Cats or something like that. Be that as it may,…

Could it be I was wrong all along?

Could it be that correlation does equal causation? I wonder…

I hate The Huffington Post. I really do. Why, you ask, do I hate HuffPo so? I hate HuffPo so because of its history from the very beginning of its existence of promoting the vilest forms of anti-vaccine quackery and pseudoscience. It’s because, over the last couple of years, not content with being the one-stop-shop…

The mammography wars heat up again

Unfortunately, it’s grant application crunch time again over the weekend. That means something’s got to give, and what happened to be the thing to give was this blog. Fortunately, all is not lost, as a “good friend” of mine has commented on a recent New England Journal of Medicine study from Thursday about mammography. It…

Archaeology in the communal refrigerator

If there’s one scary thing about working, it’s the common kitchen area. On each floor of the research tower where my lab is located, there is a small area at the end of the hall with a sink, coffee maker, refrigerator, and some cabinets. These areas are all too rarely cleaned out. Last week, for…

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Activate your DNA!

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging, preventing the creation of fresh Insolence, at least Insolence of the quality that you’ve come to expect. This is one of those times. Besides getting into full R01 grant-writing swing, I went out to dinner last night with a visiting professor and didn’t get home until too…

A highly revealing quote from a naturopath

Naturopathy is a strange beast in the “alternative medicine” world. From what I’ve been able to tell, it’s a wastebasket specialty with no overarching philosophical underpinnings, as traditional Chinese medicine underpins acupuncture or sympathetic magic underpins homeopathy. Basically, if it’s woo, naturopaths will use it. Acupuncture, TCM, homeopathy, herbalism, nutritional woo, detox, it doesn’t matter.…

How not to achieve respectability

Sometimes I can’t figure anti-vaccine loons out. No, I’m not talking about the pure pseudoscience they lay down on a daily basis. I can sort of get how some of them might cling against all scientific evidence to the idea that somehow vaccines “damaged” their child, along with the blandishments of the army of quacks…

I’ve expounded on the principle of crank magnetism. Basically, crank magnetism is the tendency of cranks not to mind the crankery of other cranks, even if the two forms of crankery are mutually exclusive. But it’s more than that. It’s the tendency of a single crank to be attracted to several forms of crankery. We’ve…

The mercury militia parties like it’s 2005

Way, way back in the deepest darkest depths of history, before I entered the Knowledge Room and sold my soul to big pharma to become a pharma blogger (in other words, way back in 2005), my inauguration as a skeptical blogger taking on anti-vaccine misinformation, pseudoscience, and lies occurred in a big way when I…

The real reason not to get acupuncture

This guy would appear to be screwed: The rat running by the acupuncturist’s door is a nice touch, too. And so appropriate.

A critical aspect of both evidence-based medicine (EBM) and science-based medicine (SBM) is the randomized clinical trial. Ideally, particularly for conditions with a large subjective component in symptomatology, the trial should be randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled. As Kimball Atwood pointed out just last week (me too), in EBM, scientific prior probability tends to be discounted…

Researchers versus biostatistics

A friend of mine at work sent this video to me in great amusement. I just hope he wasn’t making a comment on my behavior when it comes to dealing with our biostatisticians. I have, of course, seen investigators approach biostatistians this late in the game. Not that I’ve ever flirted with this sort of…

Drunken Skeptics? Are there any other kinds?

If there’s one area where I’ve been remiss, it’s been in promoting new skeptics groups. Maybe it’s the enormous Orac-ian ego. Maybe it’s sheer laziness. Maybe it’s becoming too engrossed in work and my two blog projects. I will try to rectify that in the future beginning by flogging a new skeptics group from my…

SafeMinds swings at Price et al and misses

On the blogging front, I started out this week with a part facetious, part serious, part the highly detailed analysis of a new study of interest that you’ve come to know and love (or hate). The study was Price et al, and it was yet another nail in the coffin of the scientifically discredited notion…

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia. The various shapes and contortions the human mind can impose on clouds, stains, pancakes, trees, toast, Lava lamps, toilet seats, and even medical imaging tests never ceases to amaze me. We are pattern-seeking creatures, and our brains will go to great lengths to…

I’m a cancer surgeon. I started out as a general surgeon, but my passion and scientific interest goaded me into specializing in cancer. Ultimately, I ended up subspecializing even more, ultimately becoming a breast cancer surgeon, but through it all cancer, not just breast cancer, has remained my clinical and scientific passion. So has science-based…

Yesterday, I had a bit of fun while taking on a serious topic, namely yet another study that failed to find a link between mercury in vaccines and autism. Fortunately, though, I wasn’t the only one. Oh, no, not by any means. Liz Ditz has done what she does best and provided a comprehensive linkfest…

What’s next? Flat earth?

Regarding this whole skeptic thing, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about pseudoscience and bizarre, unscientific beliefs, it’s that, just when I think I’ve seen it all, the world slaps me in the face (facepalm, to be precise) to show me that I haven’t seen it all after all. Such was what happened when a…

THE PAST IS PROLOGUE Location: Central New Jersey, deep within the brick and steel of a secret pharma base. Year: 1999. A shadowy figure dressed in gray, bald, and stroking a white cat enters a nondescript room in the middle of which sits a massive conference table. More than a dozen men and women leap…

Fresh from the comments last night: I just want to say that JM nor Wakefield had anything to do with my decision not to vax. My doc in fact doesn’t recommend it. I have plenty of studies from CDC’s site that did the convincing for me. Maybe ya’ll should read it too, you may be…

September 11, 2001: What we saw

Once again we come to another September 11. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nine years since that horrible day. On this day, I generally don’t do any new posts. Also, traditionally I do two things. First, I post the following video. This video was shot by Bob and Bri, who in 2001 lived…

I hate to do this to Bora again. I really do. I’m also getting tired of blogging all these crappy acupuncture studies. I really am. However, sometimes a skeptic’s gotta do what a skeptic’s gotta do, and this is one of those times. As you may recall, a mere week ago I was disturbed to…

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from CBS News’ resident anti-vaccine propagandist Sharyl Attkisson. When last we saw her, she was sucking up to the man whose discredited pseudoscience started the modern anti-vaccine movement, Andrew Wakefield, a man who went on to have his medical license ignominiously taken away. Prior to that, she had…