Respectful Insolence

Archives for April, 2012

Remember Vox Day? Sure, I bet you do, at least if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog more than a year or two. If you’re a really long-timer, you probably remember him even better. Let’s just put it this way. Vox is a guy who has a much higher opinion of his intellectual…

Almost exactly a year ago, I came across a bit of woo so incredible, so spectacularly stupid and unbelievable, that I dedicated one of the last segments I’ve done in a long time of Your Friday Dose of Woo to it. Basically, it was about a movie called Eat the Sun, which described a bunch…

Dan Burton’s last antivaccine hurrah?

A couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but rejoice when I learned that Indiana Representative Dan Burton had finally, after twenty years in the U.S. House of Representatives, decided to retire after the end of this term. I thought that anyone in the U.S. who supports science-based medicine should rejoice, too, because I’m hard-pressed…

About two and a half weeks ago, I was disappointed to learn that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski had somehow managed to delay justice again. At the time, I didn’t know what had happened other than that his hearing before the Texas Medical Board, which had been scheduled to begin on April 11 and to which I…

The U.S. is widely known to have the highest health care expenditures per capita in the world, and not just by a little, but by a lot. I’m not going to go into the reasons for this so much, other than to point out that how to rein in these costs has long been the…

It’s not infrequent that I come under fire from antivaccinationists for, ironically enough, calling them antivaccinationists. “Oh, no,” they protest, “I’m not antivaccine. How dare you call me that? I’m actually a vaccine safety advocate.” Of course, when you probe more closely and ask a few questions, almost inevitably you’ll find that in reality they…

Thanks again, antivaccine activists. Thanks for the measles. Again: Last year was the worst year for measles in the U.S. in 15 years, health officials said Thursday. There were 222 cases of measles, a large jump from the 60 or so seen in a typical year. Most of the cases last year were imported —…

It just occurred to me that, even though there was news about it, I never mentioned what’s happened recently with respect to California bill AB2109. As you might recall, I wrote about this bill about four weeks ago. In brief, this bill, if passed into law, would require that California parents seeking a “personal belief”…

X Minus One for vaccination

Yesterday was a bit of a rough patch; so today there won’t be the usual Orac magnum opus to which you’ve all become accustomed. Instead, maybe I’ll do a briefer post with semi-random thoughts. Of course, even Orac’s shorter posts are longer than the average blog post; so you’re still getting your money’s worth. Oh,…

I thought that a solid basic understanding of basic and clinical science was a prerequisite to be a bioethicist. AFter all, the prefix “bio” is in the word “bioethicist,” which implies to me that bioethicists study the ethics of biology and medicine, which, of course, they do. Some bioethicists are even physicians. After all, to…

Periodically, I like to make fun of homeopathy and homeopaths. I realize that to some that might seem like the proverbial shooting of fish in a barrel, but it is amusing and educational. However, it’s not always amusing. For instance, I am not amused when I see The One Quackery To Rule Them All (my…

If there’s one difference between so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and science-based medicine (SBM), it’s the role of anecdotes in each. CAM and SBM each take a very different view of anecdotes. In SBM, anecdotes are relegated to a very low rung on the evidence ladder. They are a starting point in that, if…

You know, I really, really hate the way quacks abuse molecular biology. I know, I know. I’ve said it before, but certain quacks have a way of willfully misunderstanding the latest advances in genomics, molecular biology, and biology in general. Of course, this isn’t limited to just medicine, unfortunately. After all, we have Deepak Chopra…

Proof. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. That thought kept running through my mind as I perused an article appearing on an antivaccine website. Another thought that rant through my mind is that this was clearly not a scientist of any sort speaking. In science,…

Repeat after me one more time: Just because something is natural does not necessarily mean it’s effective or, more importantly, safe. If there’s one thing common among virtually all purveyors of “alternative” medicine, it’s that they fetishize anything they consider “natural.” To them, “natural” is always better. At the very least it’s better than those…

Choosing Wisely when it comes to medicine

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Basically, overdiagnosis is the diagnosis of a condition that, if left untreated, would very likely never cause the patient harm. Because I’m a cancer surgeon, I’ve almost always written about overdiagnosis in the context of–you guessed it–cancer, particularly breast cancer. In breast cancer, for…

As you might be aware, I’m (almost) always willing to help a blogger out, particularly when that blogger is a regular commenter here who’s gotten down and dirty battling antivaccine pseudoscience in the trenches of the comments right here on this very blog. Regular readers might have noticed that I rarely comment much on my…

About a year ago, I addressed what might seem to the average reader to be a very simple, albeit clichéd question: If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we cure cancer? As I pointed out at the time, it’s a question that I sometimes even ask myself, particularly given that cancer…

April 11 is a mere five days away. What’s the significance of April 11? Easy. April 11 is the date when the hearing before the Texas Medical Board to determine whether Stanislaw Burzynski will lose his license to practice medicine in Texas. Dr. Burzynski, as you recall, is the Texas doctor who has somehow managed…

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging, preventing the creation of fresh Insolence, at least Insolence of the quality that you’ve come to expect. This is one of those times, and it doesn’t help that it’s a holiday week plus a week I was traveling. So I dug way back into the archives, back…

Looking for Jesus in all the wrong places

I have a soft spot for pareidolia, as regular readers know. It amuses me to no end to see Jesus and Mary popping up on freeway underpasses, tacos, toast, pieces of sheet metal, Lava Lamps, and the like. I thought that I had seen it all–until now: His image has been seen on rocks, windows…

Remember The Refusers? They’re the antivaccine band with the recycled classic rock sound lacking a shred of originality or chops that flooded the blogosphere with their crazy in the form of Clash wanna be songs like Vaccine Gestapo, which inspired Surly Amy to make me a Vaccine Gestapo pendant to wear at TAM a couple…

Dr. Oz promotes quackery…again

Note: Today’s a travel day. I’m driving home from the AACR. As a result, I decided to post something that appeared elsewhere, doing a quick edit to make it a bit more “insolent.” I realize that since the show I discuss aired an episode during which he featured a psychic medium in a segment called…

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting imbibing the latest and greatest that science-based medicine has to offer against cancer. The AACR is mainly a basic science and translational meeting; so a lot of this stuff is seriously preclinical. That’s what makes it interesting, though. In any case, my…

At the AACR

Blogging might be a little sketchy for the next couple of days, because I’m at the American Association for Cancer Research Meeting (AACR) in Chicago, all to to imbibe the latest and greatest in cancer research. I’m sure I’ll manage to get a post or two in while I’m here, but I doubt there will…