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

After having returned from TAM, I was pumped up by how much interest was shown in the case of Stanislaw Burzynski. More importantly, I was heartened to learn while I was there that the Texas Medical Board had submitted an amended complaint against him containing 202 pages worth of charges. Sure, the descriptions of the…

There’s a point I feel that I have have to make briefly as I begin this post. Basically, this might look familiar, but given that I was at TAM Wednesday through Sunday, I didn’t have time to produce two separate posts, and this is important enough to be distributed as widely as possible. In any…

I didn’t think I’d be revisiting this topic so quickly. However, given that I’m at TAM and I don’t have a lot of time to do one of my usual 2,000 word epics for a change, I thought that this story, which popped up the other day while I was traveling was at least worth…

Three months ago, I wrote about how the Cleveland Clinic had recently opened a clinic that dispensed herbal medicine according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice. As regular readers might expect, I was not particularly impressed or approving of this particular bit of infiltration of quackademic medicine into a major, generally well-respected academic medical center,…

Leaving on a jet plane…

Today, I’m winging my way to sunny Las Vegas. Yes, in the middle of summer, when southern Nevada’s weather is most like an oven, I will be there. The reason? I’ll be doing a workshop and a panel with fellow supporters of science-based medicine at The Amazing Meeting. I don’t know how many of my…

Over the years I’ve been studying science versus pseudoscience, medicine vs. quackery, reason versus crankery, I’ve noticed one thing. The cranks, pseudoscientists, and quacks of the world have a hard time dealing with legitimate criticism. Now, I know I sometimes get a bit—shall we say?—frisky with my criticisms. OK, obnoxious. I have, however, mellowed considerably…

Lawrence Solomon appears to be a rising star in the antivaccine movement. I started taking notice of him a couple of months ago, spewing classic long-refuted antivaccine talking points with the enthusiasm of a newbie who thinks he’s the first one to have thought of them and the arrogance of ignorance of a convert who…

Happy 4th of July! I’m taking the day off, largely to indulge my patriotic duty to laugh at things like Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie (something all patriotic red-blooded Americans should be doing), but more importantly to work on a manuscript and especially to get ready for The Amazing Meeting. If you’re going to be there,…

This is a post about homeopathic quackery. But I repeat myself. Those of you who’ve been readers here for a while have no doubt encountered Dana Ullman. He’s been popping up from time to time as a topic of this blog for many years now, almost to the very beginning, when he began spewing the…

Our regularly scheduled post will go live later this morning. In the meantime, this is a public service announcement…with GUITAR! (Oh, wait.) As you recall, last week, the FDA inexplicably decided to lift the partial clinical hold on Stanislaw Burzynski’s bogus clinical trials of antineoplastons, which he’s used since the 1990s as a pretext to…

Can we just say that vaccines are safe, already? Can we just say that, of all the medical interventions ever conceived by the minds of humans, vaccines have almost certainly saved more lives and prevented more illness? Can we finally say that vaccines do not cause autism? Of course not, unfortunately. I ask the same…

What’s going on with Robert O. Young?

There is no doubt in my mind that Robert O. Young is among the worst cancer quacks I have ever encountered. I’ve never been able to figure out how he manages to continue to practice after over 20 years, given the egregiousness of his quackery. Indeed, I was overjoyed when I learned back in January…

One of the most depressing things I regularly write about is, of course, the antivaccine movement. However, nearly as depressing to me is to watch the steady march of what I view as medical pseudoscience or even outright quackery into what should be bastions of science-based medicine, namely academic medical centers. As I’ve discussed many…

Yesterday’s post was just too depressing to contemplate and even more depressing to write. It was a total downer after seen the awesomeness that was John Oliver gloriously skewering America’s Quack Dr. Mehmet Oz. That’s why I think it would be good to finish this week on an amusing note. Well, it would be amusing…

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost three years since I first started taking an interest in the Houston cancer doctor and Polish expat Stanislaw Burzynski. Three long years, but that’s less than one-twelfth the time that Burzynski has been actually been administering an unproven cancer treatment known as antineoplastons (ANPs), a…

If there’s one thing that antivaccine activists share in common, it’s the passionate (and as yet unproven) belief that “something” out there in the environment caused the “autism epidemic.” Usually, that “something” thought to be vaccines, but with the utter failure of the vaccine-autism hypothesis to the point where it is considered soundly refuted, antivaccinationists…

If this looks a bit familiar to some of you, let’s just say that it’s grant crunch time again. This should be over after today. I hope. In the meantime, one of the difficult things about science-based medicine is determining what is and isn’t quackery. While it is quite obvious that modalities such as homeopathy,…

After Dr. Oz’s very bad week last week, it’s wonderful to see John Oliver take on Dr. Oz in a very long segment on his show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: Hilarious.

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a beer snob. I make no bones about it, I like my beer, but I also like it to be good beer, and, let’s face it, beer brewed by large industrial breweries seldom fits the bill. To me, most of the beer out being sold in the U.S.,…

It’s been three days since America’s quack, Dr. Mehmet Oz, had his posterior handed to him by a wily old prosecutor who is now a Senator, Claire McCaskill. The beauty of it is that, not only was Dr. Oz called, in essence, a liar to his face and not only was he called out for…

One of the benefits of blogging is that it’s broadened my horizons. Although the vast majority of what I write about happens in my very own country, the United States, nonetheless I frequently learn about things happening in many other countries, some that I wouldn’t necessarily pay a lot of attention to. But when something…

I almost feel sorry for “America’s Quack,” Dr. Mehmet Oz. Well, not really. Remember last week when I took note of an upcoming Senate hearing, specifically a hearing on weight loss scams in front of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, which is chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). At the time,…

it was just over a year ago that I had my last bit to say about a man who can arguably called the antivaccine activist who gave Orac his start. I’m referring, of course, to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Indeed, my first deconstruction of the nonsense about vaccines that Kennedy laid down in 2005 in…

Deepak Chopra isn’t very happy right now. In fact, he appears downright pissed off right now, particularly at skeptics, so much so that he’s issued a hilariously fatuous “challenge” to James Randi (a.k.a.) The Amazing Randi on You Tube entitled Deepak Chopra’s One Million Dollar Challenge to Skeptics: Yes, apparently with The Amazing Meeting (a.k.a.…

Over the last two days, both Mark Crislip and Jann Bellamy wrote great pieces over at Science-Based Medicine about reiki. In particular, Jann Bellamy discussed reiki starting with an example that I’ve been citing in my talks about the infiltration of quackademic medicine into medical academia for at least four or five years now: The…