Bioethics

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Bioethics

Do God and prayer trump scientific medicine?

Late this afternoon, I happened to be sitting in my office perusing the websites for the latest batch of surgical journals, trying desperately to catch up on my reading, something that I, like most academic surgeons, am chronically behind in, when I happened upon the website of the Archives of Surgery. There, the lead article…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. – Led Zeppelin Not nearly long enough. – Orac Some rats never die, it would appear. You may recall last year, when I spend a considerable amount of verbiage writing about a promising cancer drug called dichloroacetate…

Jenny McCarthy might have some competition

This is disturbing. No, it’s not disturbing because it’s a story potentially about autism. It’s not even disturbing because it indicates that Jenny McCarthy might soon have some competition in the brain dead antivaccinationist autism mom competition. It’s disturbing because of who Jenny’s new competition might be: Britney has a whole new problem on her…

Bizarrely enough, Suzanne Somers has been a common topic of discussion on this blog since the very beginning. Indeed, in one of my earliest substantive posts, way back in December 2004 when I had just started this blog on Blogger, I used her as an example of how misleading breast cancer testimonials can be. At…

I’m very puzzled. Now, I know that my being puzzled isn’t particularly unusual. I’m frequently puzzled. I can’t figure out how, for example, anyone with the slightest bit of reasoning ability can do anything other than laugh when informed what homeopathy is and how it supposedly “works.” I can’t figure out why American Idol or…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. J.B. Handley, that bull-in-a-china-shop general in the mercury militia who detests me intensely, is about as ignorant as they come when it comes to science and clinical trials. Yesterday, he provided yet more evidence of his cluelessness in his latest piece posted to that repository for…

Last week, The New York Times started a rather unusual series in its medical section entitled, The Evidence Gap, described thusly: Articles in this series will explore medical treatments used despite scant proof they work and will consider steps toward medicine based on evidence. When I first saw the series, I was prepared for a…

One of the main issues that I’ve written about quite a bit is the issue of what the state should have the power to do when a child has cancer or another life-threatening disease and the parents choose quackery over scientific medicine when the disease is potentially (or even highly) treatable or curable with standard…

She was thin, white skin stretched over bones like worn parchment over old sticks being rhythmically blown in the wind as her chest rose and fell, each time with what seemed like a major effort. Incongruous with the rest of her body, her abdomen was distended, a balloon that looked dangerously close to popping, also…

After having subjected my readers to all those posts about the antivaccination lunacy that was on display in Washington, D.C. last week, I think it’s time for a break from this topic, at least for a while if not longer. In the run-up to the “Green Our Vaccines” rally events on the antivaccinationism front were…

Believe it or not, even I, Orac, sometimes get tired of blogging about antivaccination idiocy. Indeed, this week was just such a time. I hope you can’t blame me. After all, the last few months have been so chock-full of some of the most bizarre and annoying antics of antivaccinationists at such a frequent clip…

Regular readers here are probably most familiar with the so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” therapy known as chelation therapy in the context of its use, or, more specifically, its misuse in “treating” autistic children, a misuse that has resulted in at least one death, a five-year-old autistic boy named Abubakar Tariq Nadama. However, before the…

Blogging on vacation?

OK, I know it’s like the post calling the kettle black, but what the heck is PalMD doing blogging on vacation? And are his two most recent posts so good? This is what I mean: Why hospice matters Never say “hopeless” I recently had the unfortunate opportunity to visit a relative in hospice. I was…

I’m not normally one to do link roundups or Instapundit-style one sentence “link and comment” posts. Sure, I do them occasionally, but I think the reason that I don’t is that to me blogging is a way to express my views, not just to point to the views at others (in other words, because I’m…

Nasal drone Ben Stein, as you would be hard-pressed not to know if you are a regular reader of ScienceBlogs, is hosting what looks to be a truly execrable crap-fest called Expelled!: No Intelligence Allowed. The movie basically consists of two themes: (1) Whining about “intellectual oppression” by those evil “Darwinists” directed against any valiant…

There’s no doubt about it: Stem cells are hot. Yes indeed, they’re not only hot, but they’re hip, they’re happenin‘, they’re right now, baby. Scientists are falling all over themselves with excitement at the potential applications that could potentially come from stem cell technology. True, no validated therapies for embryonic stem cells have yet made…

One of the greatest threats to the preclinical research necessary for science-based medicine today is animal rights activism. The magnitude of the problem came to the forefront again last month with the news that animal rights terrorists tried to enter the home of a researcher at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) whose research…

Some placebos are more equal than others

Perusing the news early this morning, I noticed an article on ABC News about placebos. One thing I found interesting about it was that it was a story about a research letter to JAMA, not a full study. Heck, there isn’t even an abstract. Even so, the study was rather interesting and described thusly: The…

Earlier this month, I was remiss in not noting an update to a story about which I had written before, a story of domestic terrorism carried out by so-called “animal rights” advocates who are utterly opposed to the use of animals in research. The series of attacks began with an intimidation campaign against a UCLA…

David Colquhoun, eminent scientist and maintainer of the excellent blog DC’s Improbable Science, has recently returned home to the U.K. after a trip across the pond to the U.S. and Canada, where, among other things, he gave a lecture at the University of Toronto, as well as the Riker Memorial Lecture at the Oregon Health…

Three weeks ago, I wrote about some truly irresponsible antivaccination propaganda masquerading as entertainment that aired in the form of a television show called Eli Stone. This show, which portrayed its hero taking on the case of an autistic boy whose mother blamed his autism on thimerosal (going under the fictional name “mercuritol”) in vaccines…

The other day, I happened across an Op-Ed article in the New York Times that left me scratching my head at the seeming insanity of the incident it described. The article, written by Dr. Atul Gawande, author of Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science and Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, described what…

Evidence-based medicine is not perfect. There, I’ve said it. Like anything else humans do in science or any other endeavor, evidence-based medicine (EBM) has its strengths and its weaknesses. On the whole, I consider it to be potentially vastly superior to the way that medicine was practiced in the past, bringing a systematic, scientific rigor…

Several months ago, i wrote quite a few posts about a new anticancer drug that had not yet passed through clinical trials but had demonstrated efficacy against tumors in rat models of cancer. The drug, called dichloroacetate (DCA), is a small molecule that targeted a phenomenon common in cancer cells known as the Warburg effect.…

Dr. Rashid Buttar is a quack. There, I’ve said it. It’s my opinion, and there’s lots of evidence to support that opinion. As you know, I seldom actually invoke the “q-word.” Indeed, for the longest time after I started blogging I tended to go out of my way to avoid using it, even to the…