Respectful Insolence

Archives for August, 2012

Here we go again. Every so often, criticism of the antivaccine movement builds to the point where it extends beyond the blogosphere to enter the national zeitgeist in a way in which people other than blogging geeks like myself start to take notice. It happened a few years ago, when washed up actress Jenny McCarthy…

As a cancer surgeon specializing in breast cancer, I have a particular contempt for cancer quacks. In particular, that contempt smolders and occasionally bursts in to flames right here on this very blog and, to a lesser degree, elsewhere, when I see instances of such quackery applied to women with breast cancer. They are, after…

If there’s one thing that practitioners of pseudoscientific medicine crave more than anything else, it’s respectability. Believing that science-based medicine is corrupt and that their woo is as good or better, they delude themselves into thinking that they can function as well or better than primary care doctors practice and therefore should be given the…

I might as well lay it on the line right at the beginning. It’s not as though it will surprise my regular readers given what I’ve been writing here, most recently about when Rob Schneider played the Nazi card to express his opposition to California Bill AB2109. It’s a bill that does something very simple…

If there’s one thing I’ve been railing about for the last few years, it’s how scientific and medical studies are reported in the lay press. It seems that hardly a week passes without my having to apply a little Insolence, be it Respectful or not-so-Respectful, to some story or another, usually as a result of…

When I first started this blog, I had little idea of what I was in for. I thought I had some idea from having read a bunch of blogs and found role models whose blogging style I tried to emulate back in those early days, long before I developed the persona and writing style that…

Houston, we have a problem. Oh, wait. I’m not talking about Stanislaw Burzynski this time. But we do still have a problem, and it’s a problem that resembles the Burzynski problem I recently discussed. Specifically, it’s a problem of unethical clinical trials somehow winning approval from institutional review boards (IRBs). In academia, IRBs are basically…

Since I seem to be on a roll the last few days discussing cancer quackery, I thought I’d just go with it at least one more day. Frequently, when I get on these rolls laying down the Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, over antivaccine quackery I start whining about how I need to change topics,…

…that’s right. It’ll soon be time to get your flu shot. Listen to ZDoggMD: I think I’ll ask for the thimerosol-containing version of the vaccine again this year.

[NOTE: Please be sure to read the addendum!] I hate cancer quackery. I know, I know, regular readers probably figured that out by now, and even new readers rarely take more than a couple of weeks to figure it out. That’s because cancer quackery is a frequent topic on this blog. One of the most…

If there’s one thing that goes back to the very beginning of this blog (or at least it started in the first year), it’s having a bit of fun with Deepak Chopra. I realize that to some it might seem like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel. With a rocket launcher. On the other…

A couple of days ago, I did one of my usual bits of pontification about alternative medicine, this time around pointing out how religion facilitates the magical thinking that undergirds so much pseudoscientific medicine and how the belief systems that underlie so so much of alternative medicine resembel the belief systems that underlie religion. However,…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Well, not really, although it has been a while since I’ve discussed Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. Specifically, I last dedicated a post to him following the death of one of his famous patients, Billie Bainbridge, who incidentally had become…

Alternative medicine as religion

Over the years, I’ve often likened non-science-based medical belief systems to religion. It’s not a hard argument to make. Religion involves believing in things that can’t be proven scientifically; indeed, religion makes a virtue out of ignoring the evidence and accepting various beliefs on faith alone. Similarly, alternative medicine frequently tells you that you have…

Well, I’m back. It’s always a bit weird to try to get back into the swing of things after even just a week off and even when during that week I didn’t actually stop blogging but merely slowed down a lot and succeeded (mostly) in restricting what little blogging I did to brief posts. (Yes,…

“Overselling” mammography?

One issue that keeps coming up time and time again for me is the issue of screening for cancer. Because I’m primarily a breast cancer surgeon in my clinical life, that means mammography, although many of the same issues come up time and time again in discussions of using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate…

Jamy Ian Swiss on science-based skepticism

As the last full weekday of my vacation passes, I thought about whether I’d bother to post anything or not, given that I happen to be traveling. After yesterday’s post, the subject of which was profoundly depressing to me because I hate it when quacks take cynical advantage of a grieving family to promote their…

I must admit, I’ve been enjoying my vacation thus far and have hardly paid attention to the blog, other than a couple of quick posts. For me, this is quite amazing. Still, every so often there pops up a story that I can’t resist commenting on, particularly given that I’m just sitting around watching the…

One of the consistent themes I’ve maintained on this blog over the years is to combat in my own small way in my own small corner of the Internet, the influx into medical academia of medicine based not on science, but on prescientific notions of disease, vitalism, and magic, such as homeopathy (which is sympathetic…

Ah, vacation. It’s time to relax and unwind. Of course, blogging is one way that I relax and unwind; so my being on vacation this week doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll stop my usual blogging, but it does mean I’ll wind down. One way that I’ll slow down is that I’ll try to keep my…

I tell ya, sometimes I think you guys think I’m a journalist or a 24 hour news source. I’m not, of course. I’m just a humble blogger, and I do what I can within the constraints of my every day “real life.” What? I have a real life? You mean I’m not really a supercomputer…

Let’s travel back in time fifteen years. It’s a time that, for me, at times seems as though it were just yesterday while at other times it seems like truly ancient history. Back then, certainly, I wasn’t the blogging powerhouse that I am today. I didn’t even know what blogging was because it was so…

Dying of cancer can be a horrible way to go, but as a cancer specialist I sometimes forget that there are diseases that are equally, if not more, horrible. One that always comes to mind is amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a motor neuron disease whose clinical…

I must admit. No matter how long I’ve been dealing with the antivaccine movement, in particular the pseudoscience, misinformation, and sometimes outright lies they use to demonize vaccines, I can never quite understand the profound persecution complex that so many of them have. After all, they lash out with so much vehemence and outright nastiness…