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

When HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price announced that Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald would be the new CDC Director, he breathed a sigh of relief because in her previous job as Georgia Commissioner of Public Health she was suitably pro-vaccine and pro-science. He should have looked a bit closer and gone a few years further back.

The usual stereotype of an antivaxer is a hippy dippy left wing granola cruncher. The case of Texas shows that increasingly the antivaccine movement is right wing. Worse, it’s becoming more political and harder for Republican legislators to ignore. I fear vaccine science is becoming as politicized as climate science, with results disastrous for public health.

Because of Donald Trump’s long history of antivaccine statements, his meeting with Andrew Wakefield during the presidential campaign, and his meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. during the transition, antivaxers thought Trump would give them what they want. They were wrong, just the latest to realize that they’ve been conned. Is it so wrong for me to feel serious schadenfreude here?

Post-NECSS thanks

No new Insolence today, I’m afraid. But I have an explanation.

A recent systematic review has been touted as demonstrating that “mind-body” practices like yoga can reprogram our DNA. There are several reasons to doubt these claims, not the least of which is the history of bias in past studies on this topic.

Before I delve into the next topic, I can’t help but congratulate John Oliver yet again for his excellent deconstruction of the antivaccine movement on Sunday night. As I noted on Tuesday, it clearly hit the mark, given how angry one antivax blogger got over it. As of yesterday, over at that wretched hive of…

On his most recent Sunday show, John Oliver did a tour de force segment on the antivaccine movement. Not surprisingly, antivaxers are not pleased.

A reader asks me why I hate naturopaths. I don’t hate naturopaths, but I do oppose naturopathy. Earlier this week, Tim Caulfield reminded me of one reason why: You can’t have naturopathy without antivax. Antivax views are baked into naturopathy.

Ten years ago, I liked to make fun of a pudgy, middle-aged guy named Bill Nelson, not because he was pudgy and middle-aged (which is increasingly describing me), but rather because he used to sell some serious quantum energy quackery known as the Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface. Little did I know then that Nelson was ahead of his time and all that he really needed was a celebrity endorsement and a company selling his products using beautiful scantily clad models using his products.

The Court of Justice of the European Union just issued a muddled ruling being proclaimed by clickbait headlines as allowing courts to blame any disease on vaccines without evidence. It does nothing of the sort, but it is concerning nonetheless, as it is confusing and does appear to lower the bar of evidence for vaccine injury claims. That’s plenty bad enough.

Alternative practitioners invent and treat fake diseases like adrenal fatigue and chronic Lyme disease. Unfortunately, as a recent CDC report on complications due to treating chronic Lyme disease with long term antibiotics shows, treating fake diseases can cause harm and, in some cases, even kill.

Emergency acupuncture! (2017 edition)

For whatever reason, acupuncturists and acupuncture believers think that acupuncture can be useful in emergency situations. They even do studies purporting to show that. This is yet another of such a clinical trial, albeit larger than usual. Guess what? It doesn’t really show what it’s advertised to show.

Breatharians claim that it is possible to exist only on air and that human beings can reach a state where they do not require food. Stories about Breatharians pop up in the media from time to time, even though they are patently ridiculous. One such story made the rounds as Orac was wending his way home from Europe. Given that it’s been years since he’s discussed Breatharians, he couldn’t resist looking at this story.

What is an “altie”?

How does one identify a hard core believer in alternative medicine, sometimes called in the distant past an “altie.” Well, this helpful list, culled from nine years ago, will aid you in spotting the identifying signs…

When it comes to expansion and infiltrating medicine, “integrative medicine” has frequently seemed like the Terminator: utterly relentless. Recent setbacks at major integrative medicine “Crown Jewels” resulting in their closure cast that narrative in doubt. However, I never forget that after its seeming destruction, the Terminator always comes back.

A little mid-vacation housekeeping…

So far, our vacation has been going quite well. We’ve hit two European cities, with today and tomorrow left where I am now and then on to the last one on Tuesday. Obviously, I haven’t been paying nearly as much attention to this blog (or political news out of the US) as I normally do.…

Nikola Tesla was a physicist known to dabble in strange ideas, and that’s probably why pseudoscientists have appropriated them to justify quackery and fringe ideas. However, I doubt even Tesla can be used to justify the Tesla Purple Energy Shield and various other “Tesla Purple Energy” products.

Orac finds it necessary and desirable to take a break to contemplate a black hole and recharge his Tarial cells. Here’s what will happen in his absence (not much).

Cassandra Callender made national news a couple of years ago when at age 17 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and refused chemotherapy. The court ordered that she undergo appropriate treatment, but unfortunately she relapsed and chose treatment at a quack clinic in Mexico. Continuing to progress, she finally chose real medicine to treat her cancer. Let’s hope that it’s not too late to save her.

Antivaxers often complain that they are judged harshly. It turns out that they are probably correct. But is this a bad thing? More importantly, what about the children, who didn’t choose not to be vaccinated?

Bloggers at the Age of Autism blog, like most antivaccine activists, vehemently deny that they are antivaccine, claiming instead that they are “vaccine safety” advocates. Their denials are belied by their having published many posts about a “Vaccine Holocaust.”

As quackery in the form of “integrative medicine” has increasingly been “integrated” into medicine, medical journals are starting to notice and succumb to the temptation to decrease their skepticism. The BMJ, unfortunately, is the latest to do so. It won’t be the last.

There’s a new clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing a beneficial effect due to cannabidiol, a chemical isolated from marijuana, on drug-resistant seizures due to Dravet syndrome. Medical marijuana advocates are crowing, “I told you so!” As is usually the case, the real story is more nuanced.

A story in The Washington Free Beacon claims that Tipper Gore will be appearing at a fundraiser for Kathleen Murphy, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates running for reelection to be held by Claire and Albert Dwoskin, two rich antivaxers and donors to the Democratic Party. If the story is true and not fake news that’s bad, but even if it turns out not to be true I just had to discuss the Dwoskins, who have been funding antivaccine “studies” for several years now.

Thanks to social media, fake news, conspiracy theories, and health scams spread faster and farther than ever. The world is in need of critical thinking skills now more than ever. Fortunately, there is hope. Critical thinking can be taught, but teaching these skills works best if you start young.