Respectful Insolence

Archives for July, 2011

It’s been around four years now since I first wrote a post about what I now like to call the “toxins gambit” favored by anti-vaccine loons. This particular gambit consists of finding scary-sounding chemicals in vaccines, such as formaldehyde, and then trying to stoke fear of vaccines based on their presence. This gambit, whether invoked…

On the evolution of quackery

Once upon a time, there was quackery. It was the term used to refer to medical practices that were not supported by evidence and were ineffective and potentially harmful. Physicians understood that modalities such as homeopathy, reflexology, and various “energy healing” (i.e., faith healing) methodologies were based either on prescientific vitalism, magical thinking, and/or on…

The infiltration of quackademic medicine continues apace. I know, I know. I say that a lot, but it’s only because it is, alas, so very, very true and so very, very distressing to supporters of science-based medicine. It’s not as though I haven’t written about it many, many times over the last six and a…

Yesterday, I wrote about how two anti-vaccine activists, Barbara Loe Fisher and Joe Mercola, were unhappy that bloggers targeted their advertisement that they put on the CBS Times Square JumboTron for a letter-writing campaign to try to persuade CBS Outdoors to do the right thing and stop selling ad time to groups who promote a…

On hitting your head against a brick wall

Sadly, this isn’t too far from the truth when it comes to some of these anti-vaccine doctors: Actually, it’s too generous. My only criticism of this video is that the mother with the child with suspected pertussis wasted more time with this idiot than was wise.

I must admit, I’m surprised that it took so long for this to happen. Remember back in April? Three months ago, uber-quack (in my opinion) Joe Mercola teamed up with the grand dame of the anti-vaccine movement Barbara Loe Fisher of the misnamed National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) to run a “public service announcement” on…

Et tu, Consumer Reports? Since I was a teenager, I’ve intermittently read Consumer Reports, relying on it for guidance in all manner of purchase decisions. CR has been known for rigorous testing of all manner of consumer products and the rating of various services, arriving at its rankings through a systematic testing method that, while…

What is Generation Rescue selling now?

Oh, geez. You might have noticed that I haven’t written much about Jenny McCarthy in a while. The reason is fairly obvious. She seems to have faded into the background as far as her previous promotion of a vaccine-autism link. Three years ago, she was leading marches on Washington in which anti-vaccine activists claiming not…

It appears that while TAM9 was dominating all my extracurricular, non-job-related attention, with my having to get ready to give a talk, I failed to notice another thing besides the placebo/asthma paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine last Thursday. But fear not. If it’s important (to me, at least, and hopefully to…

Since I was still recovering from TAM9 last night and crashed on the couch at around 9 PM, I didn’t have time for one of my usual logorrheic posts. I did, however, have time to take note of an update on a story I started covering six years ago. One of the greatest things about…

Dangerous placebo medicine for asthma

Note: I just got back from TAM; so if you happened to see a different version of this post somewhere else, now you know why. Last week while I was at TAM, a study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It is another beautiful example of how proponents of complementary and alternative…

One bad thing about TAM…

…is that I haven’t been able to go and see the last Harry Potter movie yet. My wife and I will probably go to see it next weekend. In the meantime, while I do the final preparations for our panel, I must admit, as being an uber-fan of The Lord of the Rings since I…

Like P.Z., I’ve been busy, busy, busy. TAM is a whirlwind of activity. Yesterday morning, I did my talk for the Science-Based Medicine workshop. Turnout was damned near standing room only, which makes me ask: Why would so many people be interested in hearing five somewhat geeky doctors pontificate about recurring themes in alternative medicine?…

From deep in the heart of Sin City…

There won’t be a new post today, as you probably have figured out. The reason is that I’m at The Amaz!ing Meeting, where I’ll be participating in the Science-Based Medicine Workshop today and a panel discussion on Saturday. Yesterday afternoon after arriving, I was busy putting the finishing touches on my talk, and then in…

A disturbing post on an anti-vaccine blog

I’m on my way to The Amaz!ng Meeting today; so I’m not sure I have time for the usual bit of Orac-ian logorrheic blogging that I somehow manage to churn out almost every day. In fact, I had thought of just running another rerun so that I don’t have to worry about it. But worry…

There’s a website out there that calls itself Opposing Views. I haven’t visited it in a while, but its very reason for existence and philosophy seems to be built on the “tell both sides” fallacy that so irritates me. In other words, Opposing Views appears to be built from the ground up to provide “balance”…

Remember Helen Ratajczak? A few months ago, CBS News’ resident anti-vaccine reporter Sharyl Attkisson was promoting Ratajczak’s incompetent “analysis” of evidence that she views as implicating vaccines in the pathogenesis of autism entitled Theoretical aspects of autism: causes–A Review (which is available in all its misinforming glory here). I applied some not-so-Respectful Insolence to the…

Reiki in the ICU?

One of the recurrent themes of this blog is to point out, analyze, and discuss the creeping infiltration of pseudoscience into medicine. In particular, it irks me that so many physicians, who really should know better, so easily fall for the siren song of quackery for whatever reason, be it a misguided desire to be…

I just saw something I don’t see every day. Or every week. Or every month. Or even every year. I frequently complain about supplements on this blog. Well, not supplements per se but rather the double standard we have in this country when it comes to supplements. Basically, supplements are about as close to unregulated…

What did the poor Haitians ever do to deserve this? Think about it. A year and a half ago, they suffered through an enormous earthquake that will take them decades, maybe even a lifetime, to recover from fully; that is, if they ever do recover from it fully. Since then, they’ve received massive amounts of…

Darn it all! I knew they’d find us out. I just knew it: Actually, I’m happy. Our diversion has worked. While the conspiracy loons will be protesting the lesser of two meetings, the real work in crushing conspiracies and ensuring our world domination will be some 600 miles away in Las Vegas at The Amaz!ng…

I saw this story on Friday and almost couldn’t wait the weekend to blog about it. However, since the conference that was brought to my attention isn’t until November, I ultimately decided that it would keep. At least until now. This story is about Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. Unlike…

Independence Day open thread

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Believe it or not, your normally blogorrheic host is taking this holiday off. For one thing, I have to work on my talk for the Science-Based Medicine workshop at The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 next week. For another thing, I have a fair amount of work for my actual job to do…

Homeopathy for malaria? Again?

I know I’ve said it many, many times before, but it’s something that, in my opinion at least, can’t be repeated too often. Homeopathy is ridiculous. Arguably, it’s the most ridiculous of “alternative” therapies ever conceived. And that’s saying a lot. After all, among “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (IM), we have…

Regular readers know that I’m a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia, so much so that I even have a category devoted to it. For those not familiar with the concept, pareidolia is nothing more than seeing patterns in things. One of the most famous examples is seeing faces, animals, or other objects in clouds.…