Respectful Insolence

Archives for March, 2013

Three weeks ago, a certain “friend” of mine gave a talk to the National Capital Area Skeptics at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA. The topic was one near and dear to my heart, namely quackademic medicine; so I couldn’t resist posting a link to the video. Amusingly, Jake Crosby makes an appearance in…

“Common sense” that isn’t

“Common sense” is not so common. Actually, that’s not exactly right. What I meant was that what most people think of as “common sense” has little or nothing to do with what science concludes. Evidence talks, “common sense” walks. I saw a fantastic example to illustrate this point on a certain blog that I’ve found…

When I wrote about the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) trial last week, little did I suspect that I would be revisiting the topic again so soon. For those of you not familiar with TACT, it was a trial designed to test a favorite quack treatment for cardiovascular disease, chelation therapy. It is, as…

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Brian Berman. We first met him when he somehow managed to insinuate a “case report” of chronic low back pain into The New England Journal of Medicine in which he recommended acupuncture for this patient. Dr. Berman also happens to be a founder of quackademic medicine on…

Here we go again. Every time I think I can get away from this topic for a while, I get sucked back in. Indeed, it seems that hardly a week can go by when I don’t find myself pulled inexorably back to this horrible, horrible clinic and what I consider to be the abuses of…

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have…

I don’t always blog about stories or studies that interest me right away. Part of the reason is something I’ve learned over the last eight years of blogging, namely that, while it’s great to be the firstest with the mostest, I’d rather be the blogger with the mostest than the firstest. I’ve learned this from…

The “myth” of placebo effects

Heidi Stevenson amuses me. The reasons are legion. Be it the time when Heidi lectured scientists on anecdotal evidence (which she values far more highly than scientists, of course, declaring it the “basis of all knowledge”); launched a vile and nonsensical attack on Stephen Barrett; argued against prior plausibility with using a straw man argument…

R.I.P., Seán Ó’Laighin

This will be an uncharacteristically short (for Orac) post. A couple of months ago, I wrote about the sad story of a young man from Ireland named Seán Ó’Laighin diagnosed with an inoperable brainstem glioma at age 19. Even more sadly, this young man heard about the Burzynski Clinic in Houston and believed the claims…

I’ve had a rule of thumb for a while that helps me identify quacks with a high degree of accuracy. It’s not very sensitive, as a lot of quacks don’t exhibit this trait, but it’s very specific. A lot of quacks don’t use the term; so not hearing says nothing about a practitioner. If you…

I know I dump on a website known as The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR), but I do so with good reason. Given what a wretched hive of antivaccine scum and quackery that website is, rivaling or surpassing any antivaccine website I can think of, even the blog equivalent of the great granddaddies of wretched hives…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Besides indulging my taste for shamelessly working lyrics from Led Zeppelin and other classic bands into my post, what am I talking about? Simple. Things have been way too serious lately. I mean, just look at yesterday’s post.…

Film producer Eric Merola seems to think that there is a conspiracy of skeptics (whom he calls The Skeptics) hell bent on harassing his hero, Brave Maverick Doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. According to his latest film Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2 (henceforth referred to as Burzynski II, to distinguish it from Merola’s first…

With very limited exceptions, chelation therapy is, as I said before in my somewhat Insolent opinion, is pure quackery. The sole exception is for real, documented cases of acute heavy metal poisoning that are known to respond to chelation, such as iron overload due to transfusion, aluminum overload due to hemodialysis, copper toxicity due to…

One of the strategies that Stanislaw Burzynski will undoubtedly use to “prove” in Eric Merola’s new Stanislaw Burzynski movie that antineoplastons work in cancer will be to highlight “success stories.” Last year, Burzynski apologists frequently pointed to a girl with an inoperable brain tumor named Amelia Saunders as a success story when the U.K. press…

So I finally made it to the Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Symposium. Thanks to the snowstorm that apparently wasn’t (at least, I don’t see any snow around), my arrival was delayed by a day, as all flights to the Washington, DC area were canceled on Wednesday. But I did finally get here, and, although…

I’m not a big fan of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). That I don’t much like CTCA should come as no surprise, given that this particular hospital chain distinguishes itself from other hospital chains by advertising its full body embrace of quackery, in particular “naturopathic oncology.” At the same time as it’s advertising its…

I know I have quite a few readers in the Washington, DC area; so I thought I’d just take advantage of the prerogative of the blog to do a little pimping. (And what good is having a blog if you can’t do a little shameless promotion every now and then?) A “very good friend” of…

That didn’t take long. Earlier today I wrote about how Colorado Public TV (channel 12) has betrayed its public trust by airing movies promoting quackery and/or pseudoscience. The most recent example is its upcoming airing of the first Burzynski movie, a propaganda piece so blatantly one-sided and full of cherry picked information and conspiracy mongering…

I’m running out of popcorn again. I know I’ve been writing a lot about the latest internecine war among cranks. It’s a battle royale whose first shot occurred when everybody’s favorite Boy Wonder “reporter” betrayed his mentors with a missive published on a hive of scum and quackery even more wretched that the hive of…

Over the weekend, as I was contemplating what to write about for today, I received a rather odd and unexpected e-mail. Indeed, it was with great surprise that I read this e-mail on Saturday morning, sent to the Burzynski Movie mailing list: Dear Burzynski Movie Subscribers: Major International Distribution Deal For Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious…

I really hate to write this post, but I feel compelled. The reason I hate to write it is because someone I admire screwed up. The reason I feel compelled is because of my longstanding interest in World War II and Holocaust history, not to mention my longtime interest in refuting the lies of Holocaust…