Politics

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Politics

Politics versus scientific peer review

In the United States, the federal government has long had a prominent role in funding science research. Be it the $30 billion a year or so that funds the National Institutes of Health or the $5 or $6 billion a year allotted to the National Science Foundation, the government funds a lot of basic and…

Here we go again. Every time I think I can get away from this topic for a while, I get sucked back in. Indeed, it seems that hardly a week can go by when I don’t find myself pulled inexorably back to this horrible, horrible clinic and what I consider to be the abuses of…

If I’ve pointed it out once, I’ve pointed it out a thousand times. Naturopathy is a cornucopia of almost every quackery you can think of. Be it homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, applied kinesiology, anthroposophical medicine, reflexology, craniosacral therapy, Bowen Technique, and pretty much any other form of unscientific or prescientific medicine that you…

Quacks despise science-based medicine in general, but there are certain specialties that they detest more than others. Arguably, the specialty most attacked by quacks is psychiatry. Many are the reasons, some legitimate, many not. In particular, Scientologists despise psychiatry, even going so far as to maintain a “museum” dedicated to psychiatry that they charmingly call…

One of the oldest topics I’ve dealt with on this blog, a topic that I’ve been writing about on and off (unfortunately, mostly on) about the antivaccine movement. Ever since I first discovered about a decade ago that, yes, there are people ignorant enough about science and medicine that they actually think that vaccines are…

There’s a phenomenon known as off-label prescribing. Basically, to prescribe something off-label is to prescribe it for an indication that is not FDA-approved but that is supported by considerable evidence. For example, it could involve using an FDA-approved drug for an indication that is not within its approval, for an unapproved age range (such as…

Whenever I blog about atrocities against science like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), I’m frequently asked how just such an edifice designed to promote pseudoscience could have come to be as a full-fledged center in the National Institutes of Health. The answer is simple and boils down to woo-loving legislators. In…

Regular readers probably know that I’m into more than just science, skepticism, and promoting science-based medicine (SBM). (If they’re regular readers of my other, not-so-super-secret other project, they might also realize that they’ve seen this post before elsewhere. I had to stay out late for a work-related event and decided to tart it up and…

Given how many bloggers have already weighed in on the story of an Italian court convicting geologists of manslaughter for failing to issue adequate earthquake warnings before an earthquake that devastated the town of L’Aquila, including Steve Novella, Daniela at Skepchicks, Sharon Hill at Skeptic, and even Instapundit, you’d think that even Orac wouldn’t have…

The 2012 election campaign is in full swing, and, for better or worse, health care is one of the major defining issues of the election. How can it not be, given the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also colloquially known as “Obamacare,” was one of the Obama administration’s major accomplishments…

One of the hazards of standing up for science and science-based medicine (and against cranks) is that some of these cranks will try to contact you at work. That’s why I have a policy about blog-related e-mails sent to me work address, and that policy is that I usually ignore them, whereas I might actually…

About a week ago, I wrote one of my usual meandering posts in which I pointed out the similarities between two different anti-science movements. On the one hand, there are anti-vaccinationists, who fetishize the naturalistic fallacy (i.e., the belief that anything “natural” is better and that anything human made or altered by science is dangerous)…

I suppose it’s possible that there might be doubt that Rob Schneider has become a complete and total antivaccine wingnut. Possible, but not reasonable. After all, he’s shown his cards and risen to prominence with his attacks on vaccine science made as part of his effort to oppose the passage of California Bill AB 2109,…

I’ve been blogging a lot about California Bill AB 2109. Basically, it’s a bill that was proposed as a means of addressing the increasing problem of non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates because religious and philosophical exemptions are too easy to obtain. Boiled down to its essence, AB 2109 would require parents to see a…

Every so often, I think it’s worthwhile to try to use my powers (such as they are) for good. Actually, I like to think that I’m using my powers for good each and every day, but obviously there are some who disagree. In general, these people are cranks. We’re talking quacks, pseudoscientists, antivaccinationists, and various…

One of the overarching issues, if not the overarching issue that makes so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM)—or, as it’s now more commonly called, “integrative medicine”—so problematic is prior plausibility. It’s also one of the most difficult to explain to the lay public, because to someone not trained in science it can sound like not…

If there’s one thing that practitioners of pseudoscientific medicine crave more than anything else, it’s respectability. Believing that science-based medicine is corrupt and that their woo is as good or better, they delude themselves into thinking that they can function as well or better than primary care doctors practice and therefore should be given the…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Well, not really, although it has been a while since I’ve discussed Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. Specifically, I last dedicated a post to him following the death of one of his famous patients, Billie Bainbridge, who incidentally had become…

“Overselling” mammography?

One issue that keeps coming up time and time again for me is the issue of screening for cancer. Because I’m primarily a breast cancer surgeon in my clinical life, that means mammography, although many of the same issues come up time and time again in discussions of using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate…

Do we need algebra? Are you kidding me?

And now for something completely different… Well, not really, but kind of different. I realize that my niche here has become discussing science-based medicine, evidence-based medicine, and the atrocities committed against both by proponents of so-called “complementary and alternative” medicine, but every so often I need a change of pace. Unfortunately, that change of pace…

During this year’s TAM, I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying Steve Novella and Michael Shermer to debate an antivaccinationist at FreedomFest, a conservative/libertarian confab that was going on in Las Vegas at the same time as TAM. That antivaccinationist turned out to be Dr. Julian Whitaker, a man who champions Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and…

Like so many other skeptics, I just returned from TAM, which, despite all the conflict and drama surrounding it this year, actually turned out to be a highly enjoyable experience for myself and most people I talked to. As I’ve been doing the last few years, I joined up with Steve Novella and other proponents…

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…

I wondered how long it would take for someone critical of current cancer care to capitalize on the recently reported health misfortune of a celebrity. The answer, unfortunately, is “not long at all.” I will admit, however, that the source of that use and abuse of the misfortune of a celebrity was not the usual…

Oh, goody. NCCAM has a blog.

Oh, goody. I don’t know how I’ve missed this, given that it’s been in existence now for over a month now, but I have. Regular readers (and even fairly recent readers, given that I write about this topic relatively frequently) know that I’m not a big fan of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative…