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 you’re in an exam room with a patient, sometimes you’re forced to contemplate uncomfortable questions.

There’s a little known aspect of Orac’s history that hasn’t been told for 11 years. Back in the early 1990s, when he was taking a “break” from residency to do his PhD work, he moonlighted as a helicopter flight physician. Here is one of his Tales from the Helicopter.

It takes a lot to stop Orac from applying Insolence to pseudoscience and quackery. One of the biggest windstorms in his lifetime did it. No jokes about wind.

I’ve been writing a long time about a phenomenon that I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” defined as the infiltration into academic medical centers and medical school of unscientific and pseudoscientific treatment modalities that are unproven or disproven. Few seem to listen. That’s why it’s reassuring to see a mainstream news publication get it (mostly) right about this phenomenon.

Antiabortion antivaccine activists like to claim that “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines mean that vaccines are contaminated products of evil. In reality, there are no “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines. A cell line derived from an aborted fetus in 1962 did, however, lead to huge advances in vaccine technology and the prevention of many millions of deaths worldwide.

I’ve been blogging fairly regularly about Houston cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski since 2011, and now the story is over…sort of. Unfortunately, as you will see, the ending is far from ideal. It is, however, somewhat better than I had feared it might be. What I’m referring to, of course, is the final ruling of…

The impetus for the creation of this blog, lo these 12+ years ago, was growing alarm at the rising tide of pseudoscience then, such as quackery, antivaccine misinformation, creationism, Holocaust denial, and many other forms of attacks on science, history, and reality itself. I had cut my teeth on deconstructing such antiscience and pseudoscience on…

Antivaxers think they have a friend in the White House, and they might very well be right.

That the Cleveland Clinic has become one of the leading institutions, if not the leading institution, in embracing quackademic medicine is now indisputable. Indeed, 2017 greeted me with a reminder of just how low the Clinic has gone when the director of its Wellness Institute published a blatantly antivaccine article for a local publication, which…

Cranks love ’em: Cash “challenges” demanding that skeptics and scientists “prove” the scientific consensus. Of course, these challenges are always rigged.

Antivaccine studies never die, even if they are retracted. They rise to kill again.

Mike Adams the “Health Ranger” runs NaturalNews.com, arguably the wretchedest of wretched hives of scum and quackery on the web. Yesterday, Google delisted it. You’ll forgive me if I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, given Adams’ long history of promoting quackery, gloating over the deaths of celebrities with cancer who used conventional treatment, and character assassination directed at science advocates, including yours truly.

Vaccine mandates for school used to be about as nonpartisan an issue as we had in the US. There was broad bipartisan support for policies to assure that children are vaccinated before they attend school, and it was a policy that worked for decades. Unfortunately, increasing politicization of vaccine policy threatens to destroy that consensus and undermine public health.

Antivaxers like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. bend over backwards to represent themselves as “not antivaccine.” Don’t believe them. They are. It’s how they suck in the clueless, like Robert De Niro and Pratik Chougule.

Will 2017 be the antivaccine year?

With the election of one of their own to the White House, antivaxers feel emboldened. They think that Donald Trump is sympathetic to their cause, and they have reasons to belief that. Will 2017 be the “tipping point,” the year the antivaccine movement clearly becomes ascendant?

I like to refer to homeopathy as The One Quackery To Rule Them All, so much so that I almost always call it that within the first two paragraphs of any post I write about some tasty bit of homeopathy pseudoscience. It’s also a wonderful tool for teaching critical thinking because it’s easy to explain…

Longtime vaccine advocates will likely remember Jock Doubleday’s “vaccine challenge,” in which he offered up to $150,000 to anyone who would drink a body-weight calibrated dose of the vaccine additives in the childhood vaccine schedule. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro have teamed up to issue a challenge every bit as nonsensical from a scientific standpoint, with the added bonus of its being a scam as well.

Whenever I hear an antivaxer claim that she’s “not antivaccine,” I listen to what she’s actually saying. For instance, when she compares “vaccine injury” and the medical system to being tortured (specifically waterboarding), I tend not to believe their denial.

One of the overarching themes of this blog, if not the overarching theme, is to expose and combat the infiltration of quackery into medicine. What I’m referring to, of course, is the phenomenon that’s risen over the last 25 years or so in which various pseudoscientific alternative medicine therapies (but I repeat myself) have found…

All of the candidates being considered by President Trump for FDA Commissioner believe that the FDA is too strict in its standards for approving new drugs. In a commentary in Nature last week, two bioethicists argued that, at least in terms of preclinical data, the standard of evidence is actually too low. Which is correct?

The latest study being promoted as evidence that vaccines cause autism is truly atrocious. Basically, like many epidemiological studies examining putative links between vaccines and adverse health outcomes, it’s mistaking statistical noise for signal. What’s odd about this study is that not a single statistician or epidemiologist appears to have been involved with its design or execution, although a lawyer, a health economist, and an investment banker were.

Last night was a bit weird. I think too many days of only getting a few hours of sleep finally caught up to me, and I crashed by around 9:30 PM. So, contrary to usually happens, when I say this post will be briefer than usual, I actually mean it; I have even less time…

They’re here, they’re there, they’re everywhere! If you believe certain quacks, nanoparticles are the new One True Cause of All Disease, and the evil food industry and big pharma are trying to poison you with them.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, people.

“You need to detox.” How many times have you heard or read this? Maybe a friend of yours suggested it for the New Year. Maybe you saw it on a website, in a magazine, or as part of an ad. I like to say sometimes, “Toujours les toxines,” because in many branches of alternative medicine…