Respectful Insolence

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.)

Respectful Insolence™ is a repository for the ramblings of the aforementioned surgeon/scientist concerning medicine and quackery, science and pseudoscience, history and pseudohistory, politics, and anything else that interests him (or pushes his buttons). Orac's motto is: "A statement of fact cannot be insolent." (OK, maybe it can be just a little bit insolent. Sometimes. OK, fairly often. Orac tries to keep his insolence respectful most of the time, but readily admits that he sometimes fails in cases of obvious quackery and pseudoscience, responding to personal attacks on him, examining poor critical thinking skills, bigotry or racism, and just general plain stupidity. When the stupidity to which Orac is responding reaches a certain very high level, he just can't help it and makes no apologies. You will know this is happening when Orac uses the phrase "the stupid, it burns" or some variant thereof.

To contact Orac: orac@scienceblogs.com

A couple of days ago, I got so carried away writing a response in the comments about David Lauser, Sammy Hagar’s drummer and husband of a woman named Liza Cozad, who is being used as a tool to pressure the FDA to allow more single patient INDs (also sometimes called compassionate use exemptions) for Stanislaw…

I’m sure that a lot of you, like me, are watching the rebooted version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, with Neil deGrasse Tyson taking over the hosting duties originally handled so ably over 30 years ago by Carl Sagan. I definitely enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to additional episodes. The only thing…

Amidst all the sturm und drang after a recent post, I was reminded elsewhere on the blog why I do what I do. So I’m going to do more of it today. You might recall Liza Cozad, wife of David Lauser, who is the drummer in Sammy Hagar’s band. She has an inoperable brain tumor…

Autism clusters and “toxins”

Time to get back to business after yesterday’s festivities. One of the items of Gospel Truth among the “autism biomed” movement, which consists of people who fervently believe that autism is caused by some sort of external “toxin,” infection, or vaccines and that subjecting children to various forms of quackery designed either to “detoxify” or…

If there’s a topic that I don’t write about much, it’s obstetrics. The reason is that it’s not a major area of my interest, and it’s not an area where I have as much expertise as I do in, say, cancer or even vaccines. My expertise in cancer comes from my career, of course, and…

I realize that some of my readers will chide me for saying this, but I usually expect better of Reason. Although I sometimes have a tendency to be a bit—shall we say?—Insolent about libertarians when they pass from a reasonable defense of civil liberties into an Ayn Rand-inspired fantasy world in which the market cures…

Attacks on the FDA on Mercola.com

I forgot if I ever mentioned that I have an article out in the current episode of Skeptical Inquirer about Stanislaw Burzynski. I call it a “primer for skeptics,” because that’s what it is. So, if you subscribe to SI (Skeptical Inquirer, not Sports Illustrated), read. If not, get thee to a newsstand before it’s…

A finger in the dike isn’t enough

Every so often I wonder what the status is regarding the infiltration of pseudoscience into medicine. It’s something I’ve been writing about on a regular basis for nine years now, a phenomenon known as “quackademic medicine.” It’s simultaneously a depressing and energizing topic, energizing because it’s something I’m passionate about, but depressing because at times…

Oh, dear. I didn’t think I’d be writing about that wretched hive of Dunning-Kruger scum and quackery, the most inaptly named website and blog of all time, The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (TMR), after having written about it just earlier this week. When last we visited this klatsch of smugly arrogant moms, one of them was…

One of my favorite shows right now is True Detective, an HBO show in which two cops pursue a serial killer over the course of over 16 years. Starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, it’s an amazingly creepy show, and McConaughey is amazing at playing his character, Rustin Cohle. I’m sad that the show will…

I don’t know if I could be a pediatrician right now. True, I probably don’t have the personality to be a pediatrician, at least not a primary care pediatrician on the front lines. After all, if I did, I probably wouldn’t have become a surgeon, much less a hyperspecialized cancer surgeon. One reason (among many,…

I’ve mentioned before how Detroit is my hometown. What that means is that I live very near to Canada. In fact, I can go into Windsor pretty much any time I want to, although I don’t do it very often. Lots of Canadians work at the cancer center I work at because it’s only a…

Last week, one of my favorite comedians and filmmakers of all time passed away unexpectedly. I’m referring, of course, to Harold Ramis, whose work ranged from movies like National Lampoon’s Animal House (the first R-rated movie I ever saw, actually), to gems like Ghostbusters and and Groundhog Day. In fact, in retrospect, when I posted…

I’ve written about conflicts of interest (COIs) a lot over the years. COIs are important in medicine and science because, as much as physicians and scientists like to think that they are immune to such things, we are as human as anyone else. We are just as prone to unconsciously (or consciously) being influenced by…

Rare is the occasion when I disagree significantly with my collaborator Steve Novella, but this is one of those times. It’s a measure of how much we agree on most things that, even in this case, I don’t completely disagree with him. But, hey, it happens. I’m referring to Steve’s post yesterday in which he…

I’m home. Oh, wait. No. Well, I’m back. Yes, the grant has been submitted, and I’m ready to get back to my hobby of science, skepticism, and, when necessary, laying down some Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful. And, it figures, too. While I was distracted with meatspace concerns, such as trying to keep my lab…

Grant deadlines strike again, and there’s no new Insolence for you to peruse today. (The problem with doing real science, as opposed to blogging, is that you actually have to apply endlessly for grant money, and, believe it or not, that comes first, before even Insolence.) Fortunately, I’ve been made aware of an endless source…

Back in December, I was excited. The reason I was excited was because everybody’s favorite über-Libertarian, New World Order conspiracy theorist quack, Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger, had made an announcement. That announcement was that on January 6, 2014 Adams would announce astonishing “scientific findings” about food that would “revolutionize” nutrition and health. Given…

Remember our old buddy Eric Merola? He’s the guy who made two—count ‘em—two crappy, conspiracy-laden, misinformation-ridden, astonishingly bad bits of “great man” propaganda disguised as documentaries about a Houston cancer doctor peddling unproven cancer treatments and charging his patients tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being under his care…

The title says it all. I was too beat last night after a hard day in the OR to get the Tarial cells fired up to produce a daily dose of the Insolence you all know and love (or, if you’re an antivaccinationist or quack, hate). It happens occasionally, but, fortunately for the universe. not…

The vast majority of what is known as “alternative medicine” is quackery. Let’s just get that right out front right from the very beginning of this post. That’s where I’m coming from, and where I’m coming from is a science- and evidence-based viewpoint. To quote a cliche that is true and modified to my own…

The last couple of weeks, I’ve made allusions to the “Bat Signal” (or, as I called it, the “Cancer Signal,” although that’s a horrible name and I need to think of a better one). Basically, when Bat Cancer Signal goes up (hey, I like that one better, but do bats get cancer?), it means that…

Regular readers know my frustration with the Texas Medical Board. Why is it, I’ve often wondered, that Stanislaw Burzynski can keep peddling his unproven cancer treatment with seeming impunity for nearly four decades, with every attempt of the TMB over the last four decades seemingly being utterly ineffective? It’s not as though Burzynski is alone.…

More Tooth Fairy science studying acupuncture

I must confess, I had a rather rough time yesterday. Actually, it’s been a rough winter, at least as far as my car is concerned. Record amounts of snow and a January much colder than usual have wreaked havoc on the roads around where I live, producing craters that make our roads and freeways look…

The other day, I got to thinking about cults. The reason is that it’s been clear to me for some time that the antivaccine movement is a quack cult. In fact, a lot of quack groups are very cultish, the example that reminded me of this having been an excellent report published by a young…