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

Ever since moving back to the Detroit area nearly seven years ago, one thing I’ve noticed is a propensity for our local news outlets to go full pseudoscience from time to time. I’m not sure why, other than perhaps that it attracts eyeballs to the screen, but, in reality, most of these plunges into pseudoscience…

15 antivaccine tropes for Christmas

Christmas is over, and we’re in that weird time between Christmas and New Years Day, when, usually at least, I have to work but so many people are out and so few patients seem to want to come in that it hardly seems worth the effort. So it is with the blog, too. The week…

After I woke up this morning, the haze induced by feasting and hanging out with family only slowly clearing, I debated about whether I wanted to post anything at all today. After all, in much of the English-speaking world, it’s still a holiday, Boxing Day. Although not an official holiday here in the US, when…

Merry Christmas from Deepak Chopra

As Orac takes a couple of days to commune with family (as amazing as it is, yes, a Plexiglass box of blinking colored lights has a family) and celebrate the season, here’s a lost Christmas gem from Deepak Chopra, who interprets Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately, embedding is disabled; so you’ll have to…

Having recently discovered a veritable Library with Doctor Moon of antivaccine misinformation and quackery known as Modern Alternative Mama’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel, I couldn’t resist taking one more drought from the same well. It is, after all, almost Christmas, and truly, as far as the blog is concerned, the discovery…

One of the depressing things about having dedicated over a decade of one’s life to combatting pseudoscience and quackery is that, no matter how much I think I’ve come to be familiar with all the woo that can be out there and all the players promoting that woo, there are always new people popping up.…

Congress polishes the turd that was NCCAM

With the way our dysfunctional federal government works, it’s not uncommon for the end of a fiscal year to come and go without there being a budget for the next fiscal year in place. This phenomenon is particularly common during election years, and this year was no different. September 30 came and went, followed by…

I’ve written quite a few times, both here and elsewhere, about the sham that is known as “traditional Chinese medicine” (TCM). Basically, there is no such thing as TCM per se. There were in the distant past many “traditional Chinese medicines,” various folk medicine traditions that, contrary to what is taught now, did not form…

Not being Australian and, for some reason, never having encountered her promotion of “natural health” online before, I first encountered Jessica Ainscough, also known as “The Wellness Warrior” over a year ago when I learned that her mother Sharyn Ainscough had died of breast cancer. Her mother, it turns out, had rejected conventional treatment for…

Ten years gone (and a little more)

Wow. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. In fact, it flies so fast that I don’t even notice when a major anniversary (or, if you will, blogiversary). Remember how I’ve been mentioning that I can’t believe it’s been almost ten years since I started doing this? I’ve been droppoing these little…

After yesterday’s post on the depressingly high (and increasing, apparently) rate of personal belief exemptions to vaccination requirements for entering school in the state of Michigan, I felt the need to pontificate a bit further. The reason is that MLive.com has posted some followup stories. Also, I didn’t have a lot of time last night…

One aspect of my life that’s kind of strange is how I’ve basically ended up back where I started. I was born and raised in southeast Michigan (born in the city of Detroit, actually, although my parents moved to the suburbs when I was 10). After going to college and medical school at the University…

The Dublin doctor who is not beating cancer

As I’ve said so many times before, this blog is my hobby. I write about what interests me for my own amusement. If it also interests you, that’s awesome. Fortunately, I’ve found that several thousand people a day do like what I lay down on a daily basis, sometimes with occasional spikes to ridiculous levels…

After having written about how the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) has promoted guidelines for cancer patients that are—shall we say?—less than scientifically rigorous, I was immediately confronted with just what we face in academic medicine when it comes to the infiltration of quackery, or, as I like to call it, quackademic medicine. It came…

Last week, I discussed a monograph published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs entitled Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Use of Integrative Therapies as Supportive Care in Patients Treated for Breast Cancer. As you might remember, I was completely unimpressed. However, those guidelines were not the only thing in that particular JNCI…

If there’s one thing about having a demanding day job, it’s that the cranks usually have the advantage. They can almost always hit first when a news story comes out that they can spin to attack their detested science. On the other hand, it usually ensures that by the time I get home, have dinner,…

Cancer cure testimonials due to alternative medicine have been a staple of this blog since its very inception. Unfortunately, another staple of this blog since very early on has included stories of children with cancer whose lives have been endangered when their their parents refuse effective cancer therapy for their cancer, in particular chemotherapy. The…

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

I happened to have a busy day yesterday, and in addition today’s a deadline to submit a letter of intent for a grant application, as well as to write a response to some criticism in a letter to the editor of my recent Nature Reviews Cancer article. (Trust me, it’s fun.) Never one to let…

Every so often there’s an article that starts making the rounds on social media, in particular Facebook and Twitter, that cries out for a treatment by yours truly. Actually, there are more such articles that are constantly circulating on social media that I could work full time blogging and still not cover them all. So…

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m not exactly a fan of “integrative oncology”—or integrative medicine, or “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or whatever its proponents want to call it these days. After all, I’ve spent nearly ten years writing this blog and nearly seven years running another blog dedicated to…

I hope my U.S. readers have all had a happy Thanksgiving. Today has been known at least since the mid-1970s as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Whether it’s still true or not, given the relentless proliferation, progression, and metastasis—yes, the use of terms related to cancer is intentional—of holiday sales right…

I don’t think I mentioned this, but I’m on a bit of a staycation this week. I figured, what the heck? After coming home from Skepticon I could do with a little R&R. Of course, fool that I am, I still can’t resist blogging a bit. On the other hand, the day before Thanksgiving I…

I realize that I risk getting repetitive by writing about this again, but it’s a rich vein that just keeps on producing and producing. It also demonstrates that, for every tragedy as huge as the ongoing Ebola outbreak that has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa thus far, there always exist well-meaning people who…

Evolutionary selection on alternative medicine

(Orac note: I was away at Skepticon over the weekend, where I gave a talk entitled The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine. (When the talk’s up on YouTube, I’ll provide a link, of course.) Because of all the fun and travel delays I didn’t get a chance to turn my slides and notes into a…

Off to Skepticon…

As this goes live I’ll be heading to the airport, my purpose being to wing my way to Skepticon 7, where I’ll be speaking tomorrow on a little ditty I like to call The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine. It’ll be fun, and I’m looking forward to it. However, in true Orac fashion, I haven’t…