Evolution

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Evolution

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…

Not infrequently, I’m asked why it is that I do what I do. Why do I spend so many hours of my free time, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog (NSSSOB), to write my detailed analyses of various forms of quackery, analyses of scientific studies, and expressions of my dismay at the infiltration…

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.…

It occurs to me that things have been perhaps overly serious here at the ol’ blog for the last couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong. I think I done good lately, if I do say so myself. However, the constant drumbeat of quackery and depressing stories takes its toll after a while. I need…

One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last (nearly) nine years blogging about pseudocience, quackery, and conspiracy theories is that a person who believes in one form of woo has a tendency to believe in other forms of woo. You’ve probably noticed it too. I’ve lost count of the examples that I’ve seen…

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have…

An inflated view of one’s importance

Something came up that made me think it would be a good idea to mention a couple of features of the new WordPress template, just in case anyone missed them when I mentioned them before. I apologize to any who might find this repetitive, but there do appear to be some newbies here; so I…

And now for something completely different. Except that it isn’t really. I say that it isn’t really different because, although this post will seem to be about politics, in reality it will be about a common topic on this blog: Anti-science. And where is this anti-science? Sadly, it’s in the platform of a major party…

About a year ago, I addressed what might seem to the average reader to be a very simple, albeit clichéd question: If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we cure cancer? As I pointed out at the time, it’s a question that I sometimes even ask myself, particularly given that cancer…

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…

Politics versus science

I’ve always been reluctant to attribute antiscientific attitudes to one political persuasion or another–and justly so, or so I thought. While it’s true that antiscience on the right is definitely more prominent these days, with the Republican candidates conducting virtual seminars on how to deny established science. Evolution? They don’t believe in it because, apparently,…

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…

When it rains it pours, as they say. Yes, sometimes there’s so much going on that I can’t possibly blog about it all, particularly now that I’ve cut back a bit. This week seems to be turning into one of those weeks. Yesterday, I couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with the grande dame…

I’ve gotten into quite a few arguments over whether there is more anti-science nonsense on the right or the left lately. Actually, none of these arguments have been on the blog, mainly because I tend not to relish getting into discussions that are far more weighted towards politics than actual science or medicine. Still, sometimes…

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…

Remember Deepak Chopra? He’s the physician (yes, physician) whose grasp on real science is so tenuous and whose ability to abuse multiple scientific disciplines, ranging from quantum physics to astronomy to genetics to medicine, simultaneously in the service of woo is so amazing that a few years ago I once coined a term representing the…

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.…

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…

On teaching the controversy in medicine

The other day, I wrote to express my disappointment with Dr. Kevin Pho, of KevinMD, for posting credulous crap about alternative medicine. I noted in an addendum that he responded with a comment that in essence said that he posts things he “doesn’t necessarily agree with myself to promote discussion and debate”: Orac, I appreciate…

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…

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…

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…