Respectful Insolence

Archives for October, 2013

A tragic breast cancer tale misused

Having just discussed yesterday the demonization of chemotherapy and how bad its side effects can be, I was thinking last night that it was time to move on, that I had gotten stuck in rut writing too many cancer-related posts in a row. Then, as so often happens, I came across something that so irritated…

If there’s one medical treatment that proponents of “alternative medicine” love to hate, it’s chemotherapy. Rants against “poisoning” are a regular staple on “alternative health” websites, usually coupled with insinuations or outright accusations that the only reason oncologists administer chemotherapy is because of the “cancer industrial complex” in which big pharma profits massively from selling…

Children are not their parents’ property

Yesterday’s post about Sarah Hershberger, the Amish girl from northeast Ohio with lymphoblastic lymphoma who refused chemotherapy, prompting a court battle that led to the appointment of a medical guardian for her to make sure she receives treatment, got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing). Actually, I had to think back over the years…

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the story of 10 year old Amish girl in northeast Ohio with cancer whose parents, alarmed by the side effects of chemotherapy, had decided to stop the chemotherapy and treat their daughter with folk medicine instead. As a result, alarmed at the likelihood that Sarah Hershberger would…

The other day, I wrote about how the George Washington University School of Public Health screwed up big time (there’s really no other way to put it that doesn’t involve liberal use of the f-bomb) by allowing vaccine-autism quack Mark Geier to assist a graduate student in epidemiology (who shall not be named, even though…

Most, if not virtually all, of what is now referred to as “traditional Chinese medicine” is quackery. I realize that it’s considered “intolerant” and not politically correct to say that in these days of “integrative medicine” departments infiltrating academic medical centers like so much kudzu enveloping a telephone pole, but I don’t care. I’m supposed…

NOTE: There is a followup to this post here. Last night, I had a function related to my department to attend, which means that I didn’t get home until after 9 PM. However, two blog posts have come to my attention that demand a response from me because they involve an old “friend” of the…

One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last (nearly) nine years blogging about pseudocience, quackery, and conspiracy theories is that a person who believes in one form of woo has a tendency to believe in other forms of woo. You’ve probably noticed it too. I’ve lost count of the examples that I’ve seen…

I was doing my usual browsing of the web yesterday in search of topics for today’s post when I came across an excellent article by a colleague and friend of mine, Dr. Rachael Dunlop, who nailed it in a post entitled Anti-vaccination activists should not be given a say in the media. In the article,…

Blogging is a rather immediate endeavor. Over the last nine years (nearly), I’ve lost track of how many times I saw something that I wanted to blog about but but by the time I got around to it was no longer topical. Usually what happens is that my Dug the Dog tendencies take over, as…

Over the years, I’ve not infrequently noted that there is a serious disconnect between what most people would think of as “natural” and what is considered “natural” in the world of “complementary and alternative medicine,” or, as I like to call it, CAMworld. I started thinking about this again after yesterday’s post about Jessica Ainscough’s…

This being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all, stories about breast cancer are frequently sent my way. This one is depressing and sad, mainly because it’s the story of death from breast cancer. From what I can gather, it is the story of a death from quackery, a death that didn’t have to occur. Even…

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the things I do on this blog that I consider to be a public service is to analyze cancer cure testimonials that are used to sell alternative medicine. Indeed, I did just that yesterday for a testimonial by someone Chris Wark, who will probably feature again one more time…

I like to think that one of the more important public services I provide is my deconstructions of alternative cancer cure testimonials. After all, one of the most powerful marketing tools cancer quacks have in their arsenal is a collection of stories of “real patients” with cancer who used their nostrums and are still alive…

If there’s one thing that the antivaccine fringe wants above all else, it’s legitimacy. They crave it almost above all else. They want to be taken seriously from a scientific standpoint. Unfortunately, what they fail to realize is that to be taken seriously from a scientific standpoint you really need to demonstrate that you actually…

One type of story that I’ve fairly frequently commented upon since the very beginning of this blog is the story of children or teens with cancer whose parents decide to pursue quackery instead of effective therapy or children with other serious diseases whose parents reject effective therapy for them. Think way, way back to Katie…

Here we go with another one. Three weeks ago, I mentioned in a post that the week of October 7 to 14 was declared by our very own United States Senate to be Naturopathic Medicine Week, which I declared unilaterally through my power as managing editor of Science-Based Medicine (for what that’s worth) to be…

Naturopaths and vaccines

I realize I’ve been remiss. After all, three or four weeks ago, I pointed out that the week of October 7 to 14, this very week, was going to be Quackery Week. Well, it wasn’t actually I who first declared this week quackery week. It was actually our very own U.s. Senate, which, as I…

When it comes to Twitter, I run hot and cold. I’ll frequently go weeks when I barely touch my Twitter account, and nothing gets posted there except automatic Tweets linking to my new posts. Then something will happen, and suddenly I’ll post 20 Tweets in a day. Rinse, lather, repeat. I guess I’m just too…

For some reason, I can’t seem to escape Chicken McNuggets. About a month ago, I expressed my complete amusement over an “investigation” of Chicken McNuggets done by everyone’s favorite crank and quackery promoter, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. I’m tellin’ ya, it was like Inspector Clouseau with a microscope when Mike Adams expressed…

No matter how much I try, it seems that I can’t escape blogging about Stanislaw Burzynski. Regular readers here are familiar with Dr. Burzynski, the “maverick” cancer doctor (he’s not an oncologist) who claims that peptides he’s isolated from urine and now synthesizes in his lab and manufacturing facility are highly effective anticancer drugs, so…

Ever since I first started writing about antivaccine conspiracy theorists (but I repeat myself) back in 2005, it’s always been assumed by many who combat this particularly pernicious and dangerous form of quackery that antivaccine views tend to be more predominant on the political left compared to the political right. I used to believe that…

More hilariously off-base genetics denialism

Things have been a bit too serious around here lately. After all, yesterday I wrote about obesity and chemotherapy, while the day before that I did an even lengthier than usual deconstruction of some claims by anti-Obamacare activists, which seemed particularly appropriate to me given that a group of wingnuts has just succeeded in mostly…

Cancer chemotherapy and obesity

In medicine, particularly oncology, it’s often the little things that matter. Sometimes, however, the “little things” aren’t actually little; they just seem that way. I was reminded of this by a story that was circulating a couple of weeks ago in the national media, often under titles like “Obese cancer patients often shorted on chemo…