Respectful Insolence

Archives for May, 2014

Thanks again, antivaccine loons

I’m a bit torn today. On the one hand, it makes me cringe when pundits write inflammatory articles blaming Jenny McCarthy for measles outbreaks. Yes, I know that I once did the same thing myself, but, as much as antivaccinationists dislike me, I’ve actually toned it down a bit when it comes to that particular…

Being a cancer surgeon, I realize that my tendency is to view my blogging material through the prism of cancer, particularly breast cancer, my specialty. it’s easy to forget that there are diseases every bit as horrible, some arguably even more so than the worst cancer. When I think of such diseases, it’s not surprising…

Placebo effects in surgery

Although I’m a translational researcher, I’m also a surgeon. That was my first and primary training and only later did I decide to get my PhD during my residency, when the opportunity to do so with a decent stipend presented itself. From my perspective, clinical research in surgery is difficult, arguably more difficult than it…

Of all the clueless antivaccinationist out there, one stands out as being particularly dangerous to public health. That person is the antivaccine reporter whom I’ve periodically been forced to castigate ever since around 2007 when she laid down such a seethingly hot bit of napalm-grade antivaccine stupid that she grabbed my attention with her combination…

Regular readers might be wondering why my output was—shall we say?—less extensive last week than it usually is. I even skipped a weekday and then followed it up with a recycled post from my not-so-super-secret other blog, altered to be a bit more, yes, Insolent. The answer is a single word: Grants. I had a…

Pretty much everyone who’s gotten through junior high recognizes the line from the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet says, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, retain that dear perfection which he owes…

Well, it snuck up on me again, the way it has a tendency to do every year. Maybe it’s because Memorial Day is so early this year. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much work to do this week given the multiple grant deadlines. Whatever the case, it just dawned on my last night that…

May I just say something again? (Actually, it’s my blog; so I’ll say it if I want to regardless of whether you want me to or not.) You know that “hypothesis” that vaccines cause autism, the one that has been at the core of the modern antivaccine movement over the last 15 years or so?…

I hadn’t really planned on writing again about everyone’s favorite conspiracy theorist and promoter of quackery, Mike Adams, at least not so soon after the last time I did it, which was only last week after Adams appeared on Dr. Oz’s daytime television show to push his “laboratory.” Adams, as you might recall, goes by…

Create your own Insolence!

As seems to happen more frequently, Orac has had his attention wholly taken up by contemplating a black hole. (Actually, he’s at a medical conference on quality care in breast cancer.) Consequently, after a four and a half hour drive to the hotel, dinner out with the conference staff, and preparing for his talk, he…

Over the years, the criticism of “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) that I have repeated here and that I and others have repeated at my not-so-super-secret other blog is that its levels of evidence relegate basic science considerations to the lowest level evidence and elevate randomized clinical trial evidence to the highest rung, in essence fetishizing it…

America’s quack: Dr. Mehmet Oz

Sometimes, when you’re blogging, serendipity strikes. Sometimes this takes the form of having something appear related to something you just blogged about. Yesterday, I discussed one of the biggest supporters of quackery on the Internet, Mike Adams, a.k.a. the Health Ranger, proprietor of NaturalNews.com, one of the quackiest, if not the quackiest site, on the…

Alternative medicine as religion, again

Over the years, I’ve often likened alternative medicine to a religion—or even a cult. Basically, it requires belief in a set of precepts that have at best little and more commonly no evidence to support them that is often accompanied by magical thinking that a god-substitute, be it nature, one’s body, or, of course, the…

Besides yesterday being Mothers’ Day yesterday, I had a lot of grant stuff to do, which means that this one will be a quickie. On Saturday, a reader sent me a link to one of the most useful sites I’ve ever encountered. I realize that over the weekend it’s spread around the skeptical blogosphere like…

There’s a certain category of posts that I like to call (to myself, anyway) “taking care of business” posts. Usually, it’s a post about something that I missed the first time around but has, for some reason, reappeared on my radar screen or something that I wish I had written about when it first showed…

One of the themes of this blog since the very beginning of this blog is the threat to scientific medicine represented by a phenomenon that I like to call quackademic medicine. Although I did not coin the term, I frequently use the term and have done my best to popularize it among skeptics to describe…

If there’s a story I neglected to mention last week that I should have, it’s that Andrew Wakefield is being a bully again, trying to use legal intimidation to silence his critics, namely Forbes.com blogger Emily Willingham. Of course, Wakefield has done this so many times that the fact that he’s done it once again…

Dr. David L. Katz is apparently unhappy with me. You remember Dr. Katz, don’t you? If you don’t, I’ll remind you momentarily. If you do, you won’t be surprised. Let me explain a bit first how Dr. Katz recently became aware of me again. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a short (for me)…

A week ago or so, I was perusing my Google Alerts, along with various blogs and news websites, looking for something to blog about, when I noticed a disturbance in the pseudoscience Force. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed many times before from a wide variety of cranks and quacks, but it all boils down to…

I’ve often written of “black holes of stupid” that threaten to rupture the fabric of the space-time continuum, so dense and full of stupid are they. Such black holes tend to come from places like the wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery known as Age of Autism, the wretched hive of scum and conspiracy…

Yesterday, the CDC held a Twitter party for National Infant Immunization Week, which is, conveniently enough, this week. Our old “friend” Ginger Taylor tried to call in her squadron of flying antivaccine monkeys to fling poo at what should have been a celebration of the success of vaccines; so I sent up the Bat Signal,…