Biology

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Biology

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,…

Remember Michael Egnor? I bet many of you do. If you were reading this blog three or four years ago, Dr. Egnor was a fairly regular target topic of my excretions of not-so-Respectful Insolence. The reason for that was, at the time, I was quite annoyed that a fellow surgeon could so regularly lay down…

All bacteria are bad?

Remember Robert O. Young? He’s the purveyor of only the finest quackery. Note that, by “finest,” I mean the most highly entertaining, the sort of utter twaddle that makes me laugh out loud when I read it. Whether it’s his claim that alkalinization is the cure for basically all disease, his characterizing sepsis as not…

As hard as it is for me to believe sometimes, I’ve been at this blogging biz a long time–well over six years now. However, I’ve been engaged, in one form or another, in combatting pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and crankery online since the late 1990s. Although I try hard not to fall into the same cognitive traps…

I’d like to thank Buckeye Surgeon for reminding me of something I had seen and wanted to blog about but totally forgot about. Maybe it was so forgettable that I should just skip it, but as a surgeon I actually don’t think so. Basically, it’s a story of a surgeon making a fool of himself.…

Yesterday, I learned of how animal rights terrorists are targeting college students as the “soft underbelly of the vivisection movement.” As an example of their new strategy, these thugs gloated over the “recantation” by a Florida Atlantic University student named Alena Rodriguez, who, because of her e-mail to a Negotiation Is Over editor named Ghazal…

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for self-proclaimed “animal rights” activists, the ones who are more than willing to terrorize scientists doing research to understand disease better and thereby develop better treatments and even cures. None of this means that I am some sort of “animal abuser” (to steal the animal rights jargon) or…

Grant time again! Since today–yes, today!–is the deadline for a rather big grant I’m writing (not quite R01 level, but a respectable three year project if I can get it), I was up until the wee hours of the morning trying to put this sucker to bed. Being the ever-benevolent blogger, though, far be it…

Back in December, I took issue with a highly irritating article by someone who normally should know better, Jonah Lehrer, entitled The Truth Wears Off: Is There Something Wrong With the Scientific Method?, so much so that I wrote one of my typical long-winded deconstructions of the article. One thing that irritated me was contained…

During the six years of its existence, one frequent complaint I’ve had on this blog, it’s been about how the press covers various health issues. In particular, it’s depressing to see how often dubious and even outright false health claims, such as the claim that vaccines cause autism, that cell phones or powerlines cause cancer,…

NOTE: Orac was actually out rather late last night. It turns out that the more administrative responsibility he somehow seems to find the more he has to go out to dinner as a part of various cancer center-related functions. As a result, he is recycling a bit of recent material from elsewhere that he in…

Six years in the blogosphere…

Has it really been six years? Six years ago today, on a dim and dreary Saturday in December, almost on a whim I sat down, went to Blogspot, and started up the first version of Respectful Insolence with an introductory post with the cliched title, Please allow me to introduce myself. Here it is, six…

No, no, no, no, no! I hate it when a fellow ScienceBlogger goes astray! Fortunately, it’s been a long time indeed since I felt obligated to administer a dose of Insolence, Respectful or otherwise, to a fellow ScienceBlogger. It’s been even longer (as in, I think, never) that I’ve ever seen one whose resource I…

You may have noticed that there wasn’t the usual 3,000 word heapin’ helpin’ of Insolence this morning. That’s because I happened to be away visiting family in Chicago over the weekend and I just didn’t have time to come up with anything–and I enjoyed myself too thoroughly to worry overmuch about it. In case you’re…

One of the great things about having declared Vaccine Awareness Week is that it gives me a convenient excuse to revisit topics and blog posts that I had meant to address but that somehow didn’t make the cut the first time around. This is the sort of thing that happens fairly frequently in blogging, where…

The Lorne Trottier Symposium is over, and it went quite well. Amazingly, even though I had to follow Michael Shermer’s talk, people told me I didn’t suck, which made me feel better. Oh, there was this issue of a guy who wanted to tout Royal Rife and his machine. He wouldn’t have irritated me so…

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, thanks to R01 deadlines. So enjoy this bit of Classic Insolence from back in September 2007 that, shockingly, as far as I can tell…

Here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, over the last several years, what started out as a more general interest in skepticism and science with a natural focus on medicine and a side interest in combatting Holocaust denial became more focused on promoting science-based medicine. As the saying goes, “Science, it works, bitches,” and I make…

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about cell phones and the scientifically highly implausible claim that radio waves from cellular telephones can lead to brain cancer and other health problems. For example, two years ago, when the then director of the respected University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman issued a warning…

If there’s one aspect of medical education that I consider to be paramount, at least when it comes to understanding how to analyze and apply all the evidence, both basic science and clinical, it’s a firm grounding in the scientific method. I advocate science-based medicine (SBM), which is what evidence-based medicine (EBM) should be. SBM…

Fructose and pancreatic cancer

I hate science press releases. Well, not exactly. I hate science press releases that hype a study beyond its importance. I hate it even more when the investigators who published the study make statements not justified by the study and use the study as a jumping off point to speculate wildly. True, it’s not always…