Respectful Insolence

Archives for September, 2011

I’ve gotten into quite a few arguments over whether there is more anti-science nonsense on the right or the left lately. Actually, none of these arguments have been on the blog, mainly because I tend not to relish getting into discussions that are far more weighted towards politics than actual science or medicine. Still, sometimes…

Yesterday, I came across a concept that I had never considered before (or even heard of before). In fact, it’s a concept that took me by surprise. Basically, it’s an application of a concept to a problem that I never considered applying the concept to before–probably with very good reason. Basically, it’s a guy named…

The perils of engaging the public

People wonder why scientists involved in controversial areas are reluctant to address the public. Courtesy of our favorite band of anti-vaccine bloggers at the anti-vaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, we see yet another reason why. Yes, AoA’s resident attack poodle Jake Crosby decided to disrupt the Q&A session of a public talk (videocast here)…

I concluded last week with the dismantling one of the more bizarre stories I’ve seen spun by the merry band of anti-vaccine propagandists over at Age of Autism. As you might recall, Mark “Not a Doctor, Not a Scientist” Blaxill had teamed with Dan “Where are the Autistic Amish?” Olmsted (or, as I call them,…

For some reason, when it comes to so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) therapies, acupuncture gets a pass. Homeopathy, for example, is based on ideas so inherently ridiculous that they quite properly attract the scorn of skeptics and advocates of science-based medicine everywhere, stating, as it does, that diluting a remedy to nonexistence makes it…

When you’ve been at this blogging thing as long as I have, it’s possible to be shocked at how long you find yourself commenting on the same story. As I approach the end of the seventh year of Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, I find these “senior blogging moments” popping up from time to time.…

I’ve been following the anti-vaccine movement for nearly a decade now, first as a regular on the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative and then, beginning almost seven years ago, blogging away. Along the way, somehow I stumbled into the role of countering the pseudoscience, misinformation, and nonsense promoted by the anti-vaccine movement. It’s dangerous misinformation, too. For…

Perhaps the biggest bête noire for me is the infiltration of quackademic medicine into academic medical centers; so whenever I see particularly egregious examples, it gets my fingers twitching over the keyboard, ready to lay down some not-so-Respectful Insolence. So it was last Friday when I happened across an article published nearly two years ago…

We get hate mail. Or I do. True, I don’t get an inordinate amount of hate mail, but I do get some. A lot of the time, it’s rather boring and predictable, which is why I don’t often respond to it on the blog, although sometimes against my better judgment I respond by e-mail. That…

Whenever I write about the woo that is reiki, I feel obligated to point out just what reiki is. Sure, it might be repetitive, but I hope my regular readers will indulge me. I never know when new readers will pop in, and it is necessary to do a bit of review. Basically, reiki is…

Praying for an anti-vaccine “advantage”?

A couple of months ago, right before TAM 9, I took note of a rather disturbing post by one of the regular bloggers on the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism. Basically, the post was worrisome because in it Kent Heckenlively portrayed those who oppose anti-vaccine pseudoscience as “wicked,” even quoting Psalm 94, which is…

Michelle Bachmann’s anti-vaccine nuttiness

A few days ago, Michelle Bachmann laid down napalm grade burning stupid about the HPV vaccine. Today, Funny or Die sums it up perfectly. Michele Bachmann chooses STD’s – watch more funny videos The not unexpected thing is, instead of retreating under criticism, Bachmann appears to be doubling down on her anti-vaccine silliness.

“CHEMOTHERAPY KILLS!!!!” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve come across brain-dead statements like the one above, often in all caps on websites resembling that of the Time Cube guy, quite frequently with more than one exclamation point, on the websites of “natural healers,” purveyors of “alternative medicine.” In fact, if you Google “chemotherapy…

Oh goody. Goody, goody, goody, goody, goody. As I sat down to lay down a bit of the old ultrainsolence on a hapless bit of psuedoscience, I was near despair. For whatever reason, there didn’t appear to be anything new out there for me to sink my teeth into. True, when this has happened in…

I don’t often blog about politics anymore. As I’ve said on more than one occasion, political bloggers are a dime a dozen. Rare is the one that interests me much. However, sometimes things happen that lead me to make an exception, except that this time it’s not really an exception because it has to do…

Unfortunately, I don’t get to see very many movies these days. My wife and I both lead very busy lives, and with periodic spasms of grant writing, plus several new administrative responsibilities, it’s just hard. Last weekend, however, a movie that I’d rather like to see came out. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet; so…

Variations on a theme of anti-vaccine nonsense

If there’s one thing about anti-vaccine activists that is virtually their sine qua non, it’s an utter lack of understanding of science. Actually, a more accurate description would be that it’s a highly selective understanding of science. Nowhere do I find this to be the case as much as when I see anti-vaccine loons pulling…

Ten years ago today

Once again we come to another September 11. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since that horrible day. It’s become my tradition over the last few years to post this video as a reminder of what happened that day. This video was shot by Bob and Bri, who in 2001 lived in…

ORAC NOTE: Work kept me out late last night going out to dinner with a visiting professor. Fortunately, it was actually pretty fun. Unfortunately, it kept me from cooking up a heapin’ helpin’ of the Insolence, either Respectful or not-so-Respectful, that my readers crave. So instead, here’s a repost from elsewhere. I didn’t think I…

“Traditional” nonsense

One aspect of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) is the resurgence of practice of what has frequently been called “traditional Chinese medicine” (TCM). I’ve pointed out before that TCM is a prescientific system of medicine based largely on superstition and vitalism. Indeed, where ancient Greek and European medical systems believed that disease is due to…

Special pleading for “integrative oncology”

I don’t recall how many times I’ve said lately that I detest the term “integrative medicine.” As I’ve pointed out time and time again, it’s the preferred “successor,” if you will, to the term “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) (at least among the woo-friendly). After all, as I’ve pointed out before, it just won’t do…

You know what to do…

Sigh. Why, oh, why do news organizations do such ridiculously stupid things? In this case, the CBC decided to put up a poll regarding the chickenpox vaccine. Here’s the setup: The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) says children should receive two doses of the chickenpox vaccine to avoid losing immunity and developing the disease as adults.…

Over the weekend, I chilled out a bit, at least as far as the blog was concerned. I won’t make too much of a secret of it, but thanks to the new policy of the new owners I have a decision to make. In the meantime, while I’m dithering, you, my readers, were deluging me…

The future of American medicine

This happens to be a holiday weekend. Believe it or not, sometimes even Orac needs a break from life, the universe, and every blog, particularly this one. I’ll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, I realize that I’ve posted videos like this before (in fact, I’m sure that at some point or another I’ve linked…

The fixed mindset of the anti-vaccine activist

One of my interests in skepticism and critical thinking has been the similarity in the fallacious arguments, approach to data, and general behavior of those who are–to put it generously–not so skeptical or scientific in their approach to life. I’m talking about believers in the paranormal, quacks, anti-vaccine activists, conspiracy theory mavens, Holocaust deniers, creationists,…