Biology

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Biology

I had originally planned on writing about a different topic today, but, as is so often the case in blogging, something came up that caught my attention, much as the errant thought of a squirrel distracts Dug the Dog. Well, actually, I had to go to an evening meeting for work last night and by…

I remember during medical school that more than one of my faculty used to have a regularly repeated crack that the only thing that taking vitamin supplements could do for you was to produce expensive pee. My first year in medical school was nearly thirty years ago now; so it’s been a long time. During…

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Mike Adams thinks he’s an actual scientist! Regular readers are all too familiar with Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger, arguably the most quacktastic site on the Internet. Sure, Joe Mercola is probably the most trafficked quackery site on the Internet, but, being number two (or number three or four,…

When it comes to Twitter, I run hot and cold. I’ll frequently go weeks when I barely touch my Twitter account, and nothing gets posted there except automatic Tweets linking to my new posts. Then something will happen, and suddenly I’ll post 20 Tweets in a day. Rinse, lather, repeat. I guess I’m just too…

I never used to write much about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before. I still don’t do it that often. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t been on my radar very much. That seems to be changing, however. It’s not because I went seeking this issue out (although I must admit that I first became interested…

How to kill cancer cells

I am taking the Memorial Day holiday off. I will return tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a general principle that needs to be remembered in cancer research: I would also add to that list: So does bleach. So does acid. So does alkali. So does pouring the media out of the dish and letting the…

Stem cells are magical, mystical things that can’t be explained. At least, if you listen to what docs and “practitioners” who run stem cell clinics in various parts of the world, usually where regulation is lax and money from First World clientele is much sought after, that’s what you could easily come to believe. Unfortunately,…

Here we go again. One of the greatest threats to biomedical research, in the U.S. at least, is the truly crappy research funding environment, a situation that hasn’t been this bad for at least 20 years. Labs are closing; investigators are giving up; and fewer of our young best and brightest are interested in a…

I’ve written a lot about a doctor named Stanislaw Burzynski who claims to have much better outcomes in treating deadly brainstem tumors than conventional oncology does. Although the way he claims to do it is through the use of substances he calls “antineoplastons,” which he claimed to have isolate from the urine of patients. Over…

Heidi Stevenson amuses me. I know, I know, I’ve started a previous post with exactly this sentence a mere month ago, but it’s so damned appropriate that I can’t help but try it again. A homeopath (which means that she’s reality-challenged to begin with), she’s produced some of the most hilariously off-base, pseudoscientific, and downright…

The “myth” of placebo effects

Heidi Stevenson amuses me. The reasons are legion. Be it the time when Heidi lectured scientists on anecdotal evidence (which she values far more highly than scientists, of course, declaring it the “basis of all knowledge”); launched a vile and nonsensical attack on Stephen Barrett; argued against prior plausibility with using a straw man argument…

Epigenetics. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. I realize I overuse that little joke, but I can’t help but think that virtually every time I see advocates of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as it’s known more commonly now, “integrative medicine” discussing epigenetics.…

For all the worship of “translational” research that is currently in vogue, it needs to be remembered that a robust pipeline of basic science progress upon which to base translational research and clinical trials is absolutely essential if progress in medicine is to continue. Without it, progress in SBM will slow and even grind to…

Ideologically motivated bad science, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies irritate me. In fact, arguably, they are the very reason I started this blog. True, over time my focus has narrowed. I used to write a lot more about creationism, more general skeptical topics, Holocaust denial, 9/11 Trutherism, and the like, but these days I rarely write…

Overselling preclinical results

As part of my ongoing effort to make sure that I never run out of blogging material, I subscribe to a number of quack e-mail newsletters. In fact, sometimes I think I’ve probably overdone it. Every day, I get several notices and pleas from various wretched hives of scum and quackery, such as NaturalNews.com, Mercola.com,…

Depopulation by vaccines?

After all the years that I’ve been writing about vaccines, the science behind vaccines, and how antivaccinationists twist that science to turn what are arguably the greatest medical achievement of medicine and have saved arguably more lives than any other medical intervention devised by human minds into toxic cesspits of horrific chemical corruption that cause…

It’s no secret that over the years I’ve been very critical of a law passed nearly 20 years ago, commonly referred to as the DSHEA of 1994. The abbreviation DSHEA stands for about as Orwellian a name for a law as I can imagine: the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Of course, as we’ve…

You know, I really, really hate the way quacks abuse molecular biology. I know, I know. I’ve said it before, but certain quacks have a way of willfully misunderstanding the latest advances in genomics, molecular biology, and biology in general. Of course, this isn’t limited to just medicine, unfortunately. After all, we have Deepak Chopra…

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging, preventing the creation of fresh Insolence, at least Insolence of the quality that you’ve come to expect. This is one of those times, and it doesn’t help that it’s a holiday week plus a week I was traveling. So I dug way back into the archives, back…

Looking for Jesus in all the wrong places

I have a soft spot for pareidolia, as regular readers know. It amuses me to no end to see Jesus and Mary popping up on freeway underpasses, tacos, toast, pieces of sheet metal, Lava Lamps, and the like. I thought that I had seen it all–until now: His image has been seen on rocks, windows…

Back in September, I merrily applied a little not-so-Respectful Insolence to the service of deconstructing the overwhelmingly silly fear mongering by a group known as SANE Vax over the alleged discovery of HPV DNA in the HPV vaccine. SANE Vax, as you may recall, is a group founded by a woman named Norma Erickson dedicated…

It’s rare that I have much in the way of reluctance to leap into writing about a topic. Any regular reader of this blog should know this to be true, given the topics I regularly take on and how often my writing draws flak my way from various proponents of quackery and pseudoscience, in particular…

It’s no secret that I’ve been highly critical of The Huffington Post, at least of its approach to science and medicine. In fact, it was a mere three weeks after Arianna Huffington launched her blog back in 2005 that I noticed something very distressing about it, namely that it had recruited someone who would later…

The complexity of cancer

About a week ago, there appeared a story in the New York Times about recent discoveries in cancer research written by George Johnson and entitled Cancer’s Secrets Come Into Sharper Focus. Overall, it was a better-than-average article for the lay press about recent discoveries in cancer research that go beyond just the cancer cell and…

It’s grant crunch time, as the submission deadline for revised R01s is July 5. However, in a classic example of how electronic filing has actually made things more difficult, the grant has to be done and at the university grant office a week before the deadline if it is to be uploaded in time. So,…