Politics

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Politics

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…

Remember Vox Day? Newer converts to the glory that is Orac (or at least to the ego that is Orac) might not know who Vox is because it’s been a while since I’ve discussed his antiscience attitudes. By and large, this is probably a good thing, given that Vox denies evolution, has been antivaccine from…

I’m sometimes asked why I do this. Why, people ask me, do I spend so much time generating post after post after post day after day after day? Obviously, one reason is that it interests me. Another reason is the passion that drives me to support science and science-based medicine and to detest the damage…

Oh, goody. Remember last week, when I took note of how organized quackery’s best friend in Congress, not to mention a shining example of crank magnetism, Representative Dan Burton of Indiana, was taking the opportunity of his having announced that he would not be running for reelection this year to write a typically brain dead…

Dan Burton’s last antivaccine hurrah?

A couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but rejoice when I learned that Indiana Representative Dan Burton had finally, after twenty years in the U.S. House of Representatives, decided to retire after the end of this term. I thought that anyone in the U.S. who supports science-based medicine should rejoice, too, because I’m hard-pressed…

The U.S. is widely known to have the highest health care expenditures per capita in the world, and not just by a little, but by a lot. I’m not going to go into the reasons for this so much, other than to point out that how to rein in these costs has long been the…

It just occurred to me that, even though there was news about it, I never mentioned what’s happened recently with respect to California bill AB2109. As you might recall, I wrote about this bill about four weeks ago. In brief, this bill, if passed into law, would require that California parents seeking a “personal belief”…

This week, the Supreme Court is hearing a case that can only be described as historic. Any of you out there (in the U.S. anyway; I realize that my readership is international) who have paid even a passing attention to the news can’t help but avoid reporting, debate, and polemics related to the Patient Protection…

It would appear that Dr. Bob Sears, author of The Vaccine Book, is in the news again. Specifically, he’s brought himself back into the spotlight by publishing in that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post, a fallacy-filled attack on a bill in California, AB 2109, designed to tighten up the process for…

I’ve discussed the concept of “misinformed consent” multiple times before. Quacks in general, particularly the “health freedom” movement proclaim their dedication to “informed consent.” “All we’re asking for,” they will say, “is informed consent.” The antivaccine movement in particular demands “informed consent” about vaccines. Be it Barbara Loe Fisher, the bloggers at the antivaccine crank…

I don’t know what it is about the beginning of a year. I don’t know if it’s confirmation bias or real, but it sure seems that something big happens early every year in the antivaccine world. Consider. As I pointed out back in February 2009, in rapid succession Brian Deer reported that Andrew Wakefield had…

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,…

Here’s a rare bit of good news on the regulatory front. It turns out that Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) has finally decided to retire: So Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) is finally retiring, after two decades in Congress. He’s got a notable record of craziness, having doggedly pursued President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal…

Which alt-med is which Republican candidate?

Best analogy ever? I think it’s a contender, straight from Balloon Juice: The Republican party in Iowa reminds me of a patient with a terminal disease (Romneyitis) desperately turning to alternative medacine. They’ve cycled through homeopathy (Bachmann), naturopathy (Cain), chelation (Perry) and aromatherapy (Paul). Now they’ve hit the final frontier–urotherapy. I’m glad that I’ve never…

One last example of crank magnetism for 2011

OK, I know I said that this morning’s post would likely be the last post of 2011, but then–wouldn’t you know it?–the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism had to go and post a post entitled AAPS on Vaccine Exemptions. I think it deserves a brief mention today for the simple reason that it’s a…

I thought I’d be leaving the topic of Dr. Stanislaw Burzysnki and his combination of Personalized Cancer Therapy for Dummies-level “personalized, gene-targeted cancer therapy” coupled with his “cancer-curing” antineoplastons, which have morphed into an orphan HDAC inhibitor used off-label as part of his pricey everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” combination of targeted therapies and old-fashioned chemotherapy. After all I…

I’ve written about the concept of “misinformed” consent with respect to the anti-vaccine movement. To summarize, “misinformed consent” is a perversion of the concept of informed consent in which cranks claim to be championing true informed consent (and, by implication, that opponents have not) when in fact they are presenting a scientifically unsupportable assessment of…

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…