Respectful Insolence

Archives for November, 2011

Remember yesterday how I said I would be following the “rule of three” in blogging about the Burzynski Clinic, its questionable practices in charging patients huge sums of money for dubious therapies, the even more dubious science behind his “antineoplaston therapy,” and his shill Marc Stephens threatening bloggers with legal action in hilariously crude ways?…

I’ve been thinking about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. You remember the Holy Hand Grenade, don’t you? It was in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where a cleric goes on and on about how “three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt…

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I was simultaneously alarmed and amused at how someone named Marc Stephens, who claims (although presents no evidence for his claim) that he represents the rogue physician and “researcher” Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, had taken to threatening skeptical bloggers who criticize Dr. Burzynski’s highly dubious cancer therapy, a therapy Burzynski dubbed…

A common thread that runs through the activities of various antiscience cranks, quacks, charlatans, and denialists is an extreme aversion to criticism. In fact, in many cases their aversion to criticism is so extreme that a common reaction of cranks to even legitimate criticism is to try to shut that criticism down any way possible.…

No more Acupuncturists Without Borders?

One of the more depressing things I’ve seen coming from various practitioners of quackery is a tendency for them to mimic Médecins Sans Frontières (in English, Doctors Without Borders). You know Doctors Without Borders, don’t you? It’s a fantastic organization that brings volunteer physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals into disaster areas and war…

Compare and contrast

I’ve spent nearly seven years and an enormous amount of verbiage writing about the difference between pseudoscience and science, between cranks and skeptics, between denialists and scientists. Along the way, I’ve identified a number of factors common to cranks and denialists. For example, two of the most prominent characteristics are a tendency to cherry pick…

Picking up one’s marbles and going home

One of the greatest gifts anyone can give is to donate his body to science after death. Such anatomic gifts contribute to the training of medical students, residents, and other medical professionals as well as being used for research that can contribute to the advancement of medical science. One of the things that makes an…

“Ayurgenomics”: The return of woo-omics

Every so often, I come across something in the world of woo that leaves my jaw dangling from its joint in utter astonishment that anyone could think such a thing was a good idea. Sometimes these things are investigations into various paranormal phenomena. Sometimes, it’s the latest anti-science denialist screed from a creationist. Other times,…

I’ve heard it said (actually, I’ve said it myself) that if you don’t have the science and evidence to back up your point of view, in order to persuade someone, make a movie. At least, this seems to be the philosophy of a number of cranks who have produced movies promoting pseudoscience over the last…

When it rains it pours, as they say. Yes, sometimes there’s so much going on that I can’t possibly blog about it all, particularly now that I’ve cut back a bit. This week seems to be turning into one of those weeks. Yesterday, I couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with the grande dame…

I’ve written about the infiltration of quackery into military medicine, beginning well over three years ago when I first noticed battlefield acupuncture and noticing how it’s infiltrating the military, thanks primarily to one Col. (Dr.) Richard Niemtzow. Today, I found someone who put it into a video form. Be forewarned, though, that the video contains…

A couple of weeks ago, I sounded the alarm regarding a highly deceptive public service announcement/infomercial being run on some Delta Airlines flights, courtesy of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). That’s the organization founded by the grand dame of the anti-vaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher, who features prominently in the PSA. I call this…

HIV/AIDS denialism versus science

As a skeptic and a blogger, my main interest has evolved to be the discussion of science-based medicine and how one can identify what in medicine is and is not based in science. Part of the reason for this is because of my general interest in skepticism dating back to my discovery that there actually…

There’s no woo like golf woo

I suck at golf. There was a time in my life when I golfed a lot. Unfortunately, I was pretty lousy at it. I tended to shoot around 120, and only once in my life do I ever recall breaking 100 for 18 holes. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking…

This morning, I was forced to do something that I rarely do, namely shut down a comment thread and ban a particularly noxious troll for sockpuppetry. The post in question dealt with one Michael J. Dochniak and his ridiculous and scientifically unsupportable notion (I refuse to dignify it by calling it a “hypothesis”) that Latex…

I had been wondering why the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism had been gearing up the slime machine against Brian Deer lately. For example, former UPI reporter turned vaccine/autism cran Dan Olmsted has been attacking the BMJ. As you recall, the BMGpublished Brian Deer’s latest revelations earlier this year when he quite pithily and…

I’ve written about the concept of “misinformed” consent with respect to the anti-vaccine movement. To summarize, “misinformed consent” is a perversion of the concept of informed consent in which cranks claim to be championing true informed consent (and, by implication, that opponents have not) when in fact they are presenting a scientifically unsupportable assessment of…

Believe it or not, sometimes I rather miss Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. Although McCarthy is still nominally the head of the anti-vaccine group Generation Rescue, she’s really faded to a rather low profile over the last year or so. Indeed, the last time I even remember her spouting off about vaccines was way back…

Ever since starting my blog nearly seven (!) years ago, I’ve concentrated mainly on skepticism in medicine, in particular examining various implausible medical claims that proliferate on the Internet and in our media like so much kudzu choking out science and reason. The reasons are two-fold. First, it’s what I’m interested in. Second, it was…

Fridays are usually a bad time for blogging for me, but it’s a choice, not due to any circumstances. Usually, on Friday nights, I consciously make an effort to stay away from the computer and the blog. Frequently, I’m tired, and not infrequently I’ll crash on the couch, only to wake up after midnight and…

About a month ago, I discussed a rather disturbing development, namely the initiative by Dr. Andrew Weil to set up something he was going to call the American Board of Integrative Medicine, all for the purpose of creating a system of board certification for physicians practicing “integrative medicine” (IM), or, as I prefer to call…

I must admit, I’m rather happy that October is over, as that means that the local news stations doing all sorts of brain dead fluff stories about the paranormal. On the other hand, if I were still living in Cleveland, I’d miss out on awesome pareidolia like this: Here’s what they’re talking about:

The nearest major airport to me happens to be a Delta Airlines hub. Consequently, nine times out of ten, whenever I have to fly anywhere I’m usually stuck using Delta Airlines. It’s actually not too bad, as major airlines go, better than some but about the same as most. Unfortunately, during the month of November,…

The whole concept of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM), the former of which “complements” science-based medicine with quackery and the latter of which “integrates” pseudoscience-based with science-based medicine. The reason I start out by saying this is to emphasize that CAM/IM is all about using language to persuade that pseudoscience is…

I’ve been blogging about alternative medicine for nearly seven years and writing about it, either on Usenet or in other forums for several years before. As a result, there are times when I start to think that maybe I’ve seen it all. And almost every time I start thinking that, I come across something that…