Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski. That Orac has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 30 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: oracknows@gmail.com

Here is an important announcement about the future of this blog. Read it, learn it, love it. Orac is going somewhere, but he’s not going anywhere. Yes, RI is moving and changing but staying mostly the same.

As you probably noticed, I didn’t manage a post yesterday. Nor did I manage one today, other than this. That’s because I was busy preparing for QEDCon, where I will be on a panel and giving a talk, and, of course, putting together my talk. As I write this, I’m horrendously jet lagged; so I…

Ever since the $200 million gift by Susan and Henry Samueli to UC-Irvine, I’ve been thinking about the “integration” of quackery into medicine through integrative medicine. The way advocates of quackademic medicine are going to make this “integration” really happen is to start with the medical schools.

Another antivaccine paper bites the dust

Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic are known for producing dubious scientific studies in the service of antivaccine pseudoscience. Last month, they published a paper purporting to show that aluminum adjuvant causes neuroinflammation in mice that was roundly criticized for poor experimental design and manipulated images. Guess what? It’s soon to be retracted.

A conversation with a Rigvir flack

My skeptical analysis of Rigvir, a “Virotherapy” from Latvia being promoted by alternative medicine clinics as a cancer cure, caught the attention of the International Virotherapy Center (IVC). The result was a long and very telling e-mail exchange between its Assistant of Business Development and myself. I post it because the arguments used in the discussion are very telling about where the IVC is coming from when it comes to science. Hint: It’s not a good place.

Epsom salt, like the Earth in The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, is mostly harmless; that is, except in the hands of a naturopath.

Rachel Bredow is antivaccine and doesn’t want her children vaccinated. Her ex-husband disagrees. When Ms. Bredow violated a court order to vaccinate her child, she was thrown into jail for contempt of court. Unfortunately, our local media have not exactly covered themselves in glory covering this story.

it’s October, which means that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means that it’s time for dubious breast cancer case reports. Here’s one about ketogenic diets that doesn’t show that such diets cure cancer.

Last week, I wrote about Rigvir, a “virotherapy” promoted by the International Virotherapy Center (IVC) in Latvia, which did not like what I had to say. When a representative called me to task for referring to the marketing of Rigvir using patient testimonials as irresponsbile, it prompted me to look at how Ty Bollinger’s The Truth About Cancer series promoted Rigvir through patient testimonials and how the IVC itself uses such testimonials. The word “irresponsible” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Like many advocates of science-based medicine, I was dismayed at the $200 million gift given by Susan and Henry Samueli to the University of California, Irvine in order to vastly expand its integrative medicine offerings. John Weeks, a noted promoter of integrative medicine, was not pleased at how the mainstream press covered this gift, and in particular he was most displeased that skeptics were heavily quoted in the reporting. In response, he launched a spittle-flecked, spelling-challenged broadside against his perceived enemies, full of misinformation and logical fallacies. Naturally, Orac can’t resist applying some not-so-Respectful Insolence to it.

A new analysis reveals that there are antivaccine bots on Twitter. Why am I not surprised?

Last week, I wrote about a truly execrable bit of science by Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic purporting to show that aluminum adjuvants cause brain inflammation, which causes autism. Since then, I’ve learned that, not only is it bad science, but that there are red flags about several of the figures to raise the specter of fraud. This might not be just bad science. It might be fraudulent science. The only way to resolve this would be for the authors to release the original full resolution images of their blots.

Last week, UC-Irvine announced a $200 million gift from Susan and Henry Samueli to create a new integrative medicine center. Since then, UC-Irvine has tried to scrub any evidence of homeopathy use on its website. It didn’t work. Unfortunately, thanks to the Samuelis, homeopathy and other pseudoscience are deeply embedded in UC-Irvine, which has become the new epitome of quackademic medicine.

Recently, the Hope4Cancer Institute, a quack clinic in Mexico has added a treatment known as Rigvir to its other offerings. But what is Rigvir? It turns out that it’s an import from Latvia with a mysterious history. Its proponents claim that it targets cancer specifically. Unfortunately, there is a profound paucity of evidence for its efficacy. The story of Rigvir is the story of an unproven treatment that, because of its origin in a small country, has flown mostly under the radar. Until now, that is.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop is continuing to sell snake oil promoted as the “empowerment” of women. Yes, that even includes a psychic vampire repellent, reiki charged.

Over the last couple of days I noted a disturbance in the antivaccine force, another study claimed to be slam dunk evidence that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines cause autism. It’s not. Also, a word to antivaxers challenging Orac to look at this study: Be very careful what you wish for…

Yesterday, the University of California, Irvine announced that Susan and Henry Samueli had donated $200 million to establish integrative medicine quackery there. Is this the shape of medicine to come?

Five years ago, IBM announced that its supercomputer Watson would revolutionize cancer treatment by using its artificial intelligence to digest and distill the thousands of oncology studies published every year plus patient-level data and expert recommendations into treatment recommendation. Last week, a report published by STAT News shows that, years later, IBM’s hubris and hype have crashed into reality.

An antivaccine blogger is amazed that big pharma has allowed its lackeys in the press to publish negative stories about the flu vaccine. Naturally, she thinks she knows why and sees a conspiracy. Not surprisingly, her conspiracy theory doesn’t make much sense.

Does the flu vaccine cause miscarriages?

A recent study claims to have found a link between influenza vaccination and miscarriage, and antivaxers are rejoicing. The study itself suffers mightily from post hoc subgroup analyses and small numbers in the subgroup, so much so that even its authors don’t really believe its results.

The antivaccine group SaneVax, which specializes in spreading misinformation about the HPV vaccine, has released part one of a three-part series of short films. Unfortunately, these are propaganda films disguised as an issue documentary.

Last week, I wrote about a naturopath imitating the worst of real doctors by running his very own dubious stem cell clinic. He even cosplays an interventional radiologist doing it. Unfortunately, he’s far from alone. There are many more naturopaths going down this road. Even more unfortunately, it is MDs who are showing the way. Basically, naturopaths don’t just cosplay doctors. They cosplay the worst of doctors as well.

Many are the PR firms and astroturf groups out there trying to influence the public. One favored technique is to publish an op-ed by an expert or “thought leader” in a major media outlet. Not infrequently, these op-eds are ghostwritten. Unfortunately, to its sorrow, STATNews found that out this week.

Britt Hermes is an ex-naturopath who realized that she had become a quack and had the bravery to quit and study to become a real scientist. Because she is an apostate, the church of naturopathy has a special antipathy reserved for her, which is why a “naturopathic oncologist” named Colleen Huber has engaged in legal thuggery to silence her. Not-a-Dr. Huber has apparently never heard of the Streisand Effect, because a look at her website and her incredibly badly done and incompetent clinical study claiming that her treatments plus eliminating processed sugar results in much better cancer survival would be very embarrassing…to her.

Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas two weeks ago, and the recovery effort will take years. As hundreds of thousands start to try to rebuild their shattered lives and homes, antivaxers have some helpful advice on how to avoid vaccines. That’s because to antivaxers, it’s always about vaccines. Always.