Respectful Insolence

Archives for February, 2012

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last seven years, it’s that there are a handful of people in the “natural health” movement (a.k.a., quackery movement) who can reliably counted upon to bring home the crazy in spades. There is, of course the granddaddy of all conspiracy sites, Whale.to, and its creator John Scudamore,…

Yesterday was a rough day for me; so I’ll be uncharacteristically brief today. As I’ve pointed out time and time again, these days, advocates of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) don’t like it so much anymore when their preferred quackery is referred to as “CAM.” Now the preferred term has–shall we say?–evolved to a happy…

Once again: Antivaccine, not pro-safe vaccine

Every so often, something happens that rekindles the need in me to discuss what, exactly, it means to be “antivaccine.” As many of my readers know, if there’s one thing about antivaccinationists, it’s that they assiduously avoid ever admitting that they are antivaccinationists. In order to avoid having to make that admission, they’ll go through…

Back in September, I merrily applied a little not-so-Respectful Insolence to the service of deconstructing the overwhelmingly silly fear mongering by a group known as SANE Vax over the alleged discovery of HPV DNA in the HPV vaccine. SANE Vax, as you may recall, is a group founded by a woman named Norma Erickson dedicated…

Any regular reader of this blog knows who Andrew Wakefield is. He’s the British gastroenterologist who almost singlehandedly ignited a panic about the MMR vaccine (well, not quite single-handedly; the sensationalistic British press helped a lot) with his shoddy, fraudulent research linking the MMR vaccine to “autistic enterocolitis” and then later to autism itself. Ultimately,…

On “anti-science” again

There’s something about the prefix “anti” that provokes all too many people, even some who consider themselves “skeptics,” to clutch at their pearls and feel faint. Antivaccine? Oh, no, you can’t say that! They’re not “antivaccine”? Who could be so nutty as to be “antivaccine”? Even members of the antivaccine movement don’t like the term…

Vaccines and autism: Same as it ever was

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during the last seven years about the antivaccine crowd invested in the idea that vaccines cause autism, it’s that it reacts with extreme hostility to any sort of studies that cast doubt upon their pet idea that vaccines cause autism. That’s somewhat understandable, given how much of their identity…

Say it ain’t so, Amy Farrah Fowler!

Like many geeks, I enjoy The Big Bang Theory. I know, I know, you’re shocked to hear that, but it’s true. I’ve seen nearly every episode since the first season. Over the last couple of seasons, the male-centric show has been considerably improved by its move towards more of an ensemble cast that includes two…

Patient satisfaction versus quality of care

If there’s one thing that purveyors of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM)–or, the preferred term these days, “integrative medicine” (IM)–and hospital administrators seem to agree on, it’s that “patient satisfaction” (whatever that means) is very, very important. Hospital administrators live and die by patient satisfaction surveys, in particular a common measurement derived from Press-Ganey surveys.…

Placebo versus the Law of Attraction

Since 2012 was rung in a month and a half ago, I’ve been writing a lot more about placebo medicine than I have in a while. Specifically, I’ve written a lot more about placebo effects than usual. This proliferation of posts on the topic was sparked by how Harvard University’s very own not-a-PhD faculty, credulous…

It’s been a while since I mentioned Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, the Houston doctor who has somehow managed over the last thirty-plus years to treat cancer patients with something he calls “antineoplastons” without ever actually producing strong evidence that they actually cure patients, increase the chances of long-term survival, or even improve disease-free progression. Although there…

One of the most potent strategies used by promoters of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM)–or, as its proponents like to call it these days, “integrative medicine” (IM)–is in essence an argumentum ad populum; i.e., an appeal to popularity. Specifically, they like to use the variant of argumentum ad populum known as the “bandwagon effect,” in…

As I survey the lack of reason that infests–nay, permeates every fiber of–my country, sometimes I despair. Whether it’s because of the freak fest that the race for the Republican nomination has become, with each candidate seemingly battling to prove he can bring home the crazier crazy than any of the others, or antiscience running…

A study that oversells massage therapy

If there’s one form of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) that I find more tolerable than most, it’s massage therapy. The reason, of course, is that, whatever else anyone claims about massage, there’s no doubt that it feels good. All too often, however, massage therapists ruin a perfectly good massage by imposing pseudoscientific and…

An uncomfortable question

Work called last night. (It happens.) Basically, I had two deadlines for two big things (finishing reviewing the grants assigned to me for study section and a major writeup for a project for my job). Unfortunately, both of them were today. I realized as I perused old posts that I hadn’t reposted this one in…

There are times when I want to fall down on my knees and give thanks for certain cranks. I mean, where would my blogging material come from, were it not for antivaccine loons, quacks, cranks, creationists, and animal rights terrorists providing me with an unending stream of blog fodder? Were they all to disappear, I’d…

An animal rights zealot faces her comeuppance

I was going to write about that article about massage therapy and the gene expression changes it causes, but when I went to look up the actual paper and found out, to my great disappointment, that our institution still doesn’t have a subscription to the journal in which it was published. So, while I’m waiting…

Way back in the day, when I first encountered antivaccine views in that wretched Usenet swamp of pseudoscience, antiscience, and quackery known as misc.health.alternative, there was one particular antivaccine lie that disturbed me more than just about any other. No, it wasn’t the claim that vaccines cause autism, the central dogma of the antivaccine movement.…

It’s amazing how fast six months can pass, isn’t it? Well, almost six months, anyway, as it was five and a half months ago that I wrote about a particularly execrable example of quackademic medicine in the form of a study that actually looked at an “energy healing” modality known as “energy chelation” as a…

A couple of weeks ago, I made the observation that there seems to have been a–shall we say?–realignment in one of the central arguments that proponents of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) make. Back in the day (say, a few years ago), such CAM practitioners and apologists used to try very,…

Since I wrote about a man who is arguably the biggest seller of quackery on the Internet, namely Joe Mercola, yesterday, I thought I’d turn my attention to someone who is arguably another of the biggest promoters of quackery on the Internet, namely Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. If Joe Mercola is proof positive that quackery…

For as many benefits as the Internet and the web have brought us in the last two decades, there are also significant downsides. I could go into all the societal changes brought about by the proliferation of this new technology, not the least of which (to me, at least) is the newfound ability of someone…

Here’s a rare bit of good news on the regulatory front. It turns out that Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) has finally decided to retire: So Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) is finally retiring, after two decades in Congress. He’s got a notable record of craziness, having doggedly pursued President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal…