Respectful Insolence

Archives for May, 2011

Why is it that so many bloggable items tend to pop up right before holidays? Whatever the reason, whether my perception that this is the case is accurate or simply the result of confirmation bias on my part, last Friday a little tidbit of popped up that seriously tempted me to blog about it. But…

Today’s a holiday here in the U.S. You’d think that I’d be taking it easy, but, sadly, thanks to the insatiable needs of the NIH grant monster, today, as I was doing most of the day Saturday and part of the day yesterday, will be working on grants; that is, when I don’t take a…

It’s happened again. Remember how I’ve said time and time again that the anti-vaccine movement is very much like a religion, a cult even? One of the key attributes of religion is an intolerance for heretics, apostates, and unbelievers. The usual approach to unbelievers is either to try to convert them and then, failing that,…

I was debating what to blog about last night, and it wasn’t easy. We’re in the midst of yet another embarrassment of riches, as far as topics relevant to this blog go. Then I noticed something that I considered to be quite appropriate, given that we are now right in the middle of the yearly…

Naturopathy invades the heartland

Many are the times I’ve referred to homeopathy as The One Quackery To Rule Them All. Because homeopathic remedies diluted greater than 12 C (12 serial hundred-fold dilutions) have been diluted more than Avagadro’s number, they are incredibly unlikely to have even a single molecule of starting compound in them. That makes them water. Given…

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not referring to the unofficial start of summer here in the U.S., namely the Memorial Day holiday, although that is fast approaching. In fact, it’s only five days away. No, I’m referring to something that, beginning today, will blight my favorite metro area (Chicago) for the next…

A couple of weeks ago, the anti-vaccine movement took a swing for the fences and, as usual, made a mighty whiff that produced a breeze easily felt in the bleachers. In brief, a crew of anti-vaccine lawyers named headed by Mary Holland, co-author of Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten…

Let’s face it, Dr. Andrew Weil is a rock star in the “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) movement. He is one of its founders, at least a founder of the its most modern iteration, and I am hard-pressed to think of anyone who did more in the early days of the…

More quack ads on ScienceBlogs

I get it. Seriously, I really do. Advertising is a deal with the devil. I understand that and have come to accept it–to a point. For example, I can (sort of) tolerate ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America showing up on ScienceBlogs; I even understand that outside of those of us who promote science-based…

I’m a dog lover. I love dogs as pets and can’t imagine my life without having a dog as a pet. When our dog Echo died unexpectedly of a particularly nasty form of cancer at 8 years of age, I was devastated. Our current dog is a great dog, and quite the character. But what…

Apparently something’s going on here on ScienceBlogs. It’s something that I don’t like at all. You, my readers, have been informing me of it. Oddly enough, it also jibes with potential blogging material that appeared on that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post. You’ll see what I’m talking about in a moment.…

Well, well, well, well. Remember how recently autism quack Dr. Mark Geier finally ran afoul of Maryland’s medical board for subjecting autistic children to unethical and potentially dangerous treatments with Lupron? Briefly, his license was suspended on an emergency basis, and, as a result, a lot of attention was brought to bear not just on…

One of the stranger Internet-based quackery phenomena of the last decade is Morgellon’s disease. This is a topic I haven’t visited that much on this blog, its having last come up in a big way a little more than a year ago, when I discussed it in the context of Dr. Rolando Arafiles and the…

All bacteria are bad?

Remember Robert O. Young? He’s the purveyor of only the finest quackery. Note that, by “finest,” I mean the most highly entertaining, the sort of utter twaddle that makes me laugh out loud when I read it. Whether it’s his claim that alkalinization is the cure for basically all disease, his characterizing sepsis as not…

The DCA zombie arises again

Remember dichloroacetate, also known as DCA? This is a relatively simple compound that showed promise in rodent models of cancer four years ago, leading to an Internet meme that “scientists cure cancer, but no one notices.” It also lead to scammers trying to take advantage of desperately ill cancer patients. The whole sordid story is…

Vaccines and infant mortality rates

The anti-vaccine movement is a frequent topic on this blog, sometimes to the point where it seems to take over the blog for days (or even weeks) at a time and I cry for respite. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which being that the anti-vaccine movement is one…

First Oz, now this. Too bad Dr. Novella’s appearance was so short: At least they got Banachek to do a quick and dirty trial that helped to demonstrate that these bracelets do not work. Unfortunately, the power of belief is strong; several of the people who underwent the testing still wanted to fork over $30…

I and others have often written about how “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) represent a “bait and switch.” The basic concept is that CAM/IM has co-opted several ostensibly science-based modalities, such as diet, exercise, relaxation, and the like. These are used as the bait by representing them as being somehow “alternative”…

It’s been a busy and rough week. The news on the vaccine front has been coming fast and furious, with the release of one bad study and another highly touted great white hope of a legal study. As much as I’m tired of blogging about vaccines this week, it’s still mandatory for me to note…

Recently, there have been grumblings in the ranks of Orac-philes. All is not entirely well. Or, at least, all is less well than usual. Even more unusual, I feel your pain. I really do. We’ve been enduring a stretch when the anti-vaccine movement has been unusually busy for an unusually long time, leading vaccines to…

Knowing what you are destined to blog about on a given night three days beforehand is a two-edged sword. On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about writer’s block or lack of suitable material to use as fodder for my Insolence, Respectful and not-so-Respectful, and that’s usually a good thing. On the other…

Let’s review. Once upon a time, according to anti-vaccine zealots, the MMR vaccine caused autism. Soon after that, the explanation morphed. No, it wasn’t so much the MMR that caused autism; rather, it was the mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in several childhood vaccines in the U.S. until the end of…

As hard as it is for me to believe sometimes, I’ve been at this blogging biz a long time–well over six years now. However, I’ve been engaged, in one form or another, in combatting pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and crankery online since the late 1990s. Although I try hard not to fall into the same cognitive traps…

One theme that I keep revisiting again and again is not so much a question of the science behind medical therapies (although certainly I do discuss that issue arguably more than any other) but rather a question of why. Why is it that so many people cling so tenaciously to pseudoscience, quackery, and, frequently, conspiracy…

I can hardly wait to see what the “proof” is this time: Investigators and Families of Vaccine-Injured Children to Unveil Report Detailing Clear Vaccine-Autism Link Based on Government’s Own Data Report Demands Immediate Congressional Action Directors of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy (EBCALA), parents and vaccine-injured children will hold a press…