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@scienceblogsllc.com

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,…

Bat Signal time! Here’s a quickie that I can’t resist publicizing. Antivaccinationists appear to be planning on crashing the CDC’s Twitter party for National Infant Immunization Week, which will take place at 1 PM EDT today. Here’s our “friend” Ginger Taylor promoting the hashtag #CDCvax to her Twitter followers: Learn About National Infant Immunization Week…

A couple of Sundays ago (Easter, to be precise), my wife and I were sitting around yesterday reading the Sunday papers and perusing the Internet (as is frequently our wont on Sunday mornings), when I heard a contemptuous harrumph coming from her direction. She then pointed me to an article in our local newspaper entitled…

National Infant Immunization Week 2014

And now for something completely different (sort of). Somehow, I totally forgot that the week of April 26 to May 3 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. In…

Naturopathy is a pseudodiscipline that resembles a Chinese menu of quackery, in which naturopaths select one from column A and two from column B, with each column containing a list of modalities ranging from pure quackery like homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine to mundane modalities that naturopaths embrace, “rebrand” as “alternative,” and woo-ify and oversell…

I was torn about what to blog about today. There were lots of things floating around that caught my eye and appear worthy of of a little taste of Insolence, either Respectful or not-so-Respectful, so much so that I couldn’t decide. None of them really stuck out. Then I saw this news story pop up…

I don’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned my connection with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF). I probably have, but just don’t remember it. Longtime readers might recall that I did my general surgery training at Case Western Reserve University at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Indeed, I did my PhD there as well in the Department…

I sense a new disturbance in the antivaccine force. I hadn’t planned on blogging about the antivaccine movement again, but I felt that I needed to do a follow up to yesterday’s (hopefully) amusing little takedown of the antivaccine stylings of new member of that group personification of the Dunning-Kruger effect and arrogance of ignorance,…

There is a perception that strikes me as common enough to be considered “common wisdom” that antivaccine views are much more common on the “left” of the political spectrum than they are on the “right.” I’ve discussed on multiple occasions how this perceived common wisdom is almost certainly wrong, or at least so incomplete as…

This might look somewhat familiar to people, but I have a good excuse. Yesterday was Easter, and, although by no stretch of the imagination can I be accused of being particularly religious, we still did have family to visit. Add to that the fact that I have a two talks to give today that as…