Respectful Insolence

Archives for May, 2013

On “helping” that is anything but

Cancer is a bitch. Depending upon what organ is involved and what kind of cancer it is, it can be incredibly hard to cure. All too often, it is incurable, particularly when it involves the brain, pancreas, esophagus, or other organs. People wonder why, after over 40 years of a “war on cancer,” we don’t…

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is despicable. I just wanted to get that off my chest. (Do clear Plexiglass boxes full of multicolored blinky multicolored lights even have chests?) The reason for my outburst will become painfully apparent all too soon, but I just had to say that. There’s also one other thing that I just…

Not too long ago, a reader asked me about black salve, and then not too long later I saw a commenter mention black salve. It occurs to me that, in all the years I’ve been doing this blog and my other blog, I don’t think I’ve ever actually written about black salve, except in passing.…

Religion and quackery: Pure synergy

Those of us who support science-based medicine and do our part to expose and combat quackery are naturally outraged at how rarely quacks are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All too often, all we can expect is for doctors practicing such chicanery to lose their medical licenses and be temporarily shut down.…

How to kill cancer cells

I am taking the Memorial Day holiday off. I will return tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a general principle that needs to be remembered in cancer research: I would also add to that list: So does bleach. So does acid. So does alkali. So does pouring the media out of the dish and letting the…

I’ve never been able to figure it out. Antivaccine zealots seem to have an intense love of Nazi analogies and comparing those supporting science-based medicine to Nazis. While from a strictly nasty point of view, I can sort of understand the utility of such analogies to demonize one’s opponents. After all, to political extremists of…

Chalk one up for the forces of anti-science, quackery, and pseudoscience. The citizens of Portland, Oregon just handed them a huge victory the other day when they once again rejected water fluoridation in a referendum: Fluoride supporters, it appeared, had everything going for them. Five Portland city commissioners had voted to add fluoride to the…

Actions have consequences. No matter how much the person might want to try to hide from the consequences of one’s actions, they frequently have a way of coming back, grabbing you by the neck, and letting you know they’re there. We see it happening now in the U.K. Fifteen years ago, British doctor Andrew Wakefield…

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. OK, I know I use that line entirely too much, but I also don’t really care. When something fits, wear it. And if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Sorry, I’ll stop. I’m in a weird mood as I write this. But it’s…

That naturopathy is a veritable cornucopia of quackery mixed with the odd sensible, science-based suggestion here and there is not in doubt, at least not to supporters of science-based medicine (SBM). However, what naturopaths are very good at doing is representing their pseudoscience as somehow being scientific and thus on par with actual SBM. So…

Manufactroversy. It’s wonderful, made-up word that describes a phenomenon so aptly, so brilliantly, that I like to use it all the time. Basically the word describes a manufactured controversy that is motivated by either extreme ideology (virtually always crank ideology) and/or profit that is intentionally stoked to create public confusion about a scientific issue that…

After yesterday, I really hadn’t planned on writing about Angelina Jolie and her decision to undergo bilateral mastectomies again, except perhaps as a more serious piece next week on my not-so-super-secret other blog where The Name of the Doctor is revealed on a weekly basis. As I mentioned yesterday, there are a number of issues…

I should have known it. I should have known that the reaction wouldn’t take very long. I should have known it based on prior history. The news story to which I am referring is, of course, the revelation yesterday in the New York Times editorial page by Angelina Jolie that she had decided to undergo…

I’m not alone in pointing this out, but if there’s one thing about research and clinical trials into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) that has become very apparent to me over the years, it’s that the more rigorous the study the less likely it is to show an effect. In normal research, the usual progression…

Sometimes blogging topics arise from the strangest places. It’s true. For instance, although references to how tobacco causes cancer and the decades long denialist campaign by tobacco companies are not infrequently referenced in my blogging (particularly from supporters of highly dubious studies alleging a link between cell phone radiation and cancer and the ham-handed misuse…

I hate to end the week on a bit of a downer, but sometimes I just have to. At least, it’s depressing to anyone who is a proponent of science-based cancer care as the strategy most likely to decrease the death rate from cancer and improve quality of life for cancer patients. Unfortunately, in enough…

A key pillar of the Stanislaw Burzynski antineoplaston marketing machine, a component of the marketing strategy without which his clinic would not be able to attract nearly as many desperate cancer patients to Houston for either his antineoplaston therapy (now under a temporary shutdown by the FDA that, if science were to reign, will become…

I’ve been very, very critical of a self-proclaimed cancer doctor named Stanislaw Burzynski, who is not an oncologist but somehow has managed over the last 36 years to treat patients with unapproved cancer drugs, list dozens of phase 2 clinical trials in ClinicalTrials.gov but never publish a completed one (at least to this date), and…

As hard as it might be to believe, one time over 20 years ago I actually took the Dale Carnegie course and, as part of that course, read his famous book How To Win Friends and Influence People. I know, I know. It’s probably not obvious from my style of writing on this particular blog,…

Stem cells are magical, mystical things that can’t be explained. At least, if you listen to what docs and “practitioners” who run stem cell clinics in various parts of the world, usually where regulation is lax and money from First World clientele is much sought after, that’s what you could easily come to believe. Unfortunately,…

Politics versus scientific peer review

In the United States, the federal government has long had a prominent role in funding science research. Be it the $30 billion a year or so that funds the National Institutes of Health or the $5 or $6 billion a year allotted to the National Science Foundation, the government funds a lot of basic and…

Here we go again. One of the greatest threats to biomedical research, in the U.S. at least, is the truly crappy research funding environment, a situation that hasn’t been this bad for at least 20 years. Labs are closing; investigators are giving up; and fewer of our young best and brightest are interested in a…

Well, April is over, which means that Autism Awareness Month is almost over. While antivaccinationists are saying goodbye to April and whining about the very concept of “autism awareness,” I can’t help but realize that the autism quackfest known as AutismOne is less than a month away. Yes, every year around Memorial Day weekend, the…