Popular culture

Category archives for Popular culture

Cancer huckster Belle Gibson was recently fined for deceiving the public by claiming that she had brain cancer, a story that she used to sell all manner of dubious treatments. Was she delusional or a run-of-the-mill con artist? Does it matter?

Orac is attacked by Capt. Kirk using fake news over the course of several days. Truly, it is a strange world.

The depths of stupidity to which the Michigan state legislature will stoop never cease to amaze me. This time, legislators are doing their damnedest to make measles great again.

A few dozen antivaccine activists descended upon Washington, DC to protest and lobby their legislators. The protest itself was not impressive, but pro-science advocates shouldn’t let this pathetic march lead them to be complacent. Antivaxers are meeting with legislators, and President Trump is sympathetic to their aims.

Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD, wants you to know she is a doctor. She also wants you to know that you can “reset” your hormones and genes with food and saunas. In the case of the saunas, she’s put the preclinical cart before the clinical horse and extrapolated animal and early molecular epidemiological data off of a cliff.

I’ve been writing a long time about a phenomenon that I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine,” defined as the infiltration into academic medical centers and medical school of unscientific and pseudoscientific treatment modalities that are unproven or disproven. Few seem to listen. That’s why it’s reassuring to see a mainstream news publication get it (mostly) right about this phenomenon.

Antiabortion antivaccine activists like to claim that “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines mean that vaccines are contaminated products of evil. In reality, there are no “aborted fetal cells” in vaccines. A cell line derived from an aborted fetus in 1962 did, however, lead to huge advances in vaccine technology and the prevention of many millions of deaths worldwide.

I’ve been blogging fairly regularly about Houston cancer quack Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski since 2011, and now the story is over…sort of. Unfortunately, as you will see, the ending is far from ideal. It is, however, somewhat better than I had feared it might be. What I’m referring to, of course, is the final ruling of…

Antivaxers think they have a friend in the White House, and they might very well be right.

Vaccine mandates for school used to be about as nonpartisan an issue as we had in the US. There was broad bipartisan support for policies to assure that children are vaccinated before they attend school, and it was a policy that worked for decades. Unfortunately, increasing politicization of vaccine policy threatens to destroy that consensus and undermine public health.

Will 2017 be the antivaccine year?

With the election of one of their own to the White House, antivaxers feel emboldened. They think that Donald Trump is sympathetic to their cause, and they have reasons to belief that. Will 2017 be the “tipping point,” the year the antivaccine movement clearly becomes ascendant?

Fake news has become an enormous problem. Here, Orac takes a look at a rather fascinating tidbit of fake news aimed at the antivaccine movement. Did the FBI really raid the CDC with the “CDC whistleblower” showing them what to find? Of course not. But a story like this is nearly irresistible to true believers that vaccines cause autism.

So I was distracted yesterday from what I had intended to write about by an irresistible target provided me courtesy of Toby Cosgrove, MD, CEO of The Cleveland Clinic, who bemoaned all those nasty pro-science advocates who had had the temerity to link the antivaccine rant by the director of the Clinic’s Wellness Institute to…

I remember when I first heard on Twitter yesterday afternoon that our President-Elect, Donald Trump, was going to meet with longtime antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Remembering how Trump had met with antivaccine “hero” Andrew Wakefield before the election and how after the election antivaccine activists were practically salivating over the thought of what…

The fallout from the social media firestorm from the antivaccine rant written by the Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and published by Cleveland.com last Friday has abated but far from faded away. The offending physician, Dr. Daniel Neides, was forced to issue an apology, which was one of the least convincing apologies…

Over the weekend, a most unusual social media firestorm erupted in response to a blog post by Daniel Neides, MD, MBA, Acting Medical Director of the Tanya I. Edwards Center for Integrative Medicine, Vice Chair and Chief Operating Officer of Cleveland Clinic Wellness, as well as the Associate Director of Clinical Education for The Cleveland…

Quackademic medicine. I didn’t invent the term. (Dr. R. W. Donnell did—nearly nine years ago.) However, I sure use it a lot, because it perfectly describes a phenomenon that has proliferated and metastasized throughout the body of academic medicine like the cancer it is. I like to think that, in my own way, I’ve popularized…

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been at this blogging thing for 12 years now. In fact, it’s been so long that this year I didn’t even remember to mention it when it happened nearly two weeks ago. Over that time period, I’ve dealt with a large number of conspiracy theories. Indeed, skeptics…

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post that, much to my surprise, went viral, garnering more Facebook “Likes” than any before it, although it only came in maybe third in traffic after the all-time record-holding post from a couple of years ago. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was, after all, about Tom Price,…

There are times when I wonder: How on earth did I miss this? Usually, I pride myself on being pretty timely in my blogging, writing about new stuff that’s fairly fresh. Sure, barring a fortuitous confluence of events and timing, I’m rarely the “firstest with the mostest” on a topic. I do, after all, have…

I’ve seen it noted that our new President-Elect seems to be selecting his cabinet officers and directors of federal bureaucracies based on how much they oppose the mission of the department they are supposed to head. For instance, to head the Department of Health and Human Services, he picked an orthopedic surgeon who belongs to…

I wasn’t always a skeptic. Maybe I should rephrase that. I’ve probably always been a skeptic since a young age. It’s just that I didn’t start self-identifying as one until around 1998 or so. Oddly enough, my “gateway drug” into more organized skepticism was refuting Holocaust denial. I’ve told the tale on multiple occasions before,…

Old fart that I am, I’ve been a fan of The Rolling Stones since the mid-1970s, when I was in junior high school. Over the years, I’ve accumulated pretty close to all of their studio albums—and even bought multiple remastered versions of classics like Exile on Main Street and Beggar’s Banquet—and got access to the…

Yesterday, I noted the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, a Hobson’s choice of a bill for those of us who support increased biomedical research funding that basically said: You can have an increase in the NIH budget. You can have the Cancer Moonshot. You can have President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and his…

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…