History

Category archives for History

Nikola Tesla was a physicist known to dabble in strange ideas, and that’s probably why pseudoscientists have appropriated them to justify quackery and fringe ideas. However, I doubt even Tesla can be used to justify the Tesla Purple Energy Shield and various other “Tesla Purple Energy” products.

Bloggers at the Age of Autism blog, like most antivaccine activists, vehemently deny that they are antivaccine, claiming instead that they are “vaccine safety” advocates. Their denials are belied by their having published many posts about a “Vaccine Holocaust.”

Antivaxers are planning on publishing the personal information of employees of the Boston Herald because the paper published an editorial saying that promoting antivaccine misinformation among a vulnerable population should be a “hanging offense.” Meanwhile, overblown allusions to the Holocaust are going into overdrive. Same as it ever was.

I always wondered how low Donald Trump could go. Now I know. Only I fear this is nowhere near the bottom.

2016: The year bullshit was weaponized

Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, quackery, and belief in things that can be objectively demonstrated not to be true have always been with us. Unfortunately, 2016 was the year that this bullshit was weaponized, and we may never recover.

Naturopathic oncologists think that they’re real cancer doctors, to the point of even studying their specialty as though it were real. They couldn’t be more wrong.

This post is a bit later than usual, but there’s a good reason for it. Last night, I was in full food coma, having consumed the traditional Thanksgiving feast, along with a fair amount of wine. Besides, even a sometimes arrogant bloviator like myself, who uses a pseudonym based on a fictional, near-all-knowing supercomputer from…

John Weeks has long been an activist for alternative medicine—excuse me, “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as it’s more commonly referred to these days, “integrative medicine.” Despite his having zero background in scientific research or the design and execution of experiments and clinical trials, for some bizarre reason in May he was appointed editor…

If you’re a skeptic dedicated to promoting science and reason, these are scary times. My country, the United States of America, just unexpectedly elected a racist, misogynistic, conspiracy-mongering, scientific ignoramus (who, by the way, is rabidly antivaccine) as its next President thanks to the political relic known as the Electoral College. In actuality, Hillary Clinton…

This is yet another in the continuing saga of “I’m not antivaccine,” a continuing series of posts demonstrating how the oh-so-loud and vigorous denials of antivaccine activists that they are antivaccine are in reality either a lie or self-delusion. There have been so many previous installments, twenty, to be precise. There could easily have been…

It’s always nice when I learn that a target of my—shall we say?—Insolence takes note of what I’ve written. Well, maybe not always nice. Sometimes that notice takes the form of attacks, such as those by our good quack buddy Mike Adams, who’s been writing mean and nasty things about me for over three months…

I wish this post were an April Fools Day joke, but it is not. Three weeks ago, Skeptical Raptor and I wrote posts describing how a particularly vicious, nasty antivaccine troll named Heather Murray had successfully gamed Facebook reporting algorithms intended to report abuse in order to silence pro-science bloggers. It is, unfortunately, a tactic…

One of the recurring topics I write about is, of course, cancer quackery. It goes right back to the very beginning of this blog, to my very earliest posts more than 11 years ago. Over the years I’ve covered more cases than I can remember of patients relying on quackery instead of real medicine. In…

One of my favorite television shows right now is The Knick, as I described before in a post about medical history. To give you an idea of how much I’m into The Knick, I’ll tell you that I signed up for Cinemax for three months just for that one show. (After its second season finale…

A typical response to a charge of being antivaccine coming from someone whose rhetoric is definitely antivaccine is to clutch her pearls mightily and retort, “I’m not ‘anti-vaccine.’ I’m pro-vaccine safety.” Similarly, a common retort of antivaccinationists who believe that vaccines cause autism, particularly those who believe that vaccines caused their children’s autism, is to…

The Woo Boat

File this one under the category: You can’t make stuff like this up. (At least, I can’t.) Let’s say you’re a die hard all-conspiracy conspiracy theorist and alternative medicine believer (a not uncommon combination). You love Alex Jones and Mike Adams and agree with their rants that there is a New World Order trying to…

Ever since SB 277 became law, I didn’t think I’d be writing about it much anymore. Actually, I probably won’t be writing about it much any more, because it’s now a done deal. It’s the law of the land in California. Beginning in 2016, non-medical exemptions (i.e., religious exemptions and personal belief exemptions) to school…

Antivaccinationists like Holocaust analogies. I’ve described this particularly loathsome phenomenon more times than I can remember, most recently when Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. compared the “vaccine-induced autism epidemic” (vaccine-induced only in RFK, Jr.’s imagination and that of antivaccinationists) to the Holocaust. True, even he was forced to apologize, although it was a classic “notpology”: “I…

I’ve discussed on many occasions over the years how antivaccine activists really, really don’t want to be known as “antivaccine.” Indeed, when they are called “antivaccine” (usually quite correctly, given their words and deeds), many of them will clutch their pearls in indignation, rear up in self-righteous anger, and retort that they are “not antivaccine”…

Later today, I’ll be on my way to New York City to take part in the Science-Based Medicine portion of NECSS. I’m very much looking forward to it, not the least because I haven’t been to New York in five years but even more so because I look forward to meeting up with the rest…

Ancient cancer

As I sat on my couch last night, laptop sitting in front of me, I awaited the Ken Burns adaptation of Siddartha Mukherjee’s excellent book The Emperor of All Maladies into a three part television documentary to air on PBS. I’m not sure whether I’ll blog the show or not, but if I do I’ll…

Readers who’ve been following this blog a while would probably not be surprised to learn that one of my all time favorite movies is Ghostbusters. In fact, it’s hard to believe that the movie is now 30 years old. It makes me feel so old, given that I saw the movie in the theater when…

NOTE: There is a follow up to this post. The holidays are over. Time to start dishing out fresh Insolence, Respectful and, as appropriate, not-so-Respectful for 2015. I do, however, feel obligated to deal with one painfully inappropriate action by a major science journal left over from 2014. It happened in an issue that came…

One thing that happened this week that I didn’t get around to writing about is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jonas Salk, which was October 28. In the annals of medicine, few people have had as immediate a positive effect as Jonas Salk did when he developed the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). At…

Regular readers know that I’ve been a big Star Trek geek (more or less) ever since I first discovered reruns of the original Star Trek episodes in the 1970s, having been too young (but not by much!) to have caught the show during its original 1966-1969 run. True, my interest waxed and waned through the…