Popular culture

Category archives for Popular culture

I’m sure that most of you watched the Presidential debate on Monday night, just as I did. Over the years, these debates have always always painful for me to watch, given the candidates’ tendency to answer the question they want to answer rather than the question actually answered; to find ways to spew prepackaged talking…

Has another celebrity embraced quackery?

I never in a million years thought I’d be writing a blog post involving Selena Gomez. Gomez, as many, if not most, of you are probably aware is currently a young pop star and actress who got her start as a child actress. Oddly enough, she was on Barney & Friends with Demi Lovato. These…

When I first heard that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, was scheduled to appear on The Dr. Oz Show, my first thought was, basically, “Of course he is. What took him so long?” After all, it’s a crank pairing made in heaven. Given that, I considered it my skeptical blogging duty at least…

As regular readers know, last Friday I was quite happy to relay the news that the Medical Board of California had finally acted against a rock star among the antivaccine movement, namely pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears. Dr. Sears (or Dr. Bob, as he likes to be called) rocketed to prominence among the vaccine-averse and downright…

About three months ago, I was displeased to see in a normally reliable source of medical news (STAT News) a story about a patient of cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski, Neil Fachon, that fell victim to every trope that Burzynski’s used for 40 years to present himself to the press as a “brave maverick” doctor and…

I’ve mentioned on quite a few occasions that there’s a quote attributed to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that is much beloved of cranks: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. I also like to point out that Schopenhauer probably never said…

There’s an old saying that basically asks the question, “With friends like these, who needs enemies? or, as Voltaire (or Marshal Villars, depending on the account) said, “May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.” The point, of course, is that friends or allies can sometimes be as infuriating…

Here we go again. Remember how I frequently say that naturopaths are relentless, how, whenever they attempt to get a naturopathic licensing bill passed in a state and fail, they’re soon back to try again. Basically, they keep trying until they succeed, and once they succeed, it’s game over for keeping their quackery from having…

I’ve frequently written about various dubious and outright quack clinics in different parts of the word with—shall we say?—somewhat less rigorous laws and regulations than the US. Most commonly, given the proximity to the US, the clinics that have drawn my attention are located in Mexico, most commonly right across the border from San Diego…

After writing about the failure of state medical boards to discipline physicians who practice quackery and an apparent notable exception in Tennessee just yesterday, my attention was brought back to California and the topic of SB 277, the law enacted last year that, as of July 1 this year, eliminated non-medical exemptions to school vaccine…

This weekend was the 4th of July, Independence Day. It’s the most patriotic holiday of all, at least for Americans. We celebrated it in the usual way, with parades, fireworks, the odd lost digit or two, and barbecues. Unfortunately, there’s another thing that the 4th of July inevitably brings on as well, and that’s the…

Yesterday, I took note of a meeting of advocates and lawyers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which makes him a very powerful Congressman. The group that met with him included Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propagandafest of a “documentary” VAXXED:…

There’s always been a major thread of distrust of the medical profession in the African-American community, understandably so given the history of abuses such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, in which the natural progression of untreated syphilis was studied in African-American men for 40 years. It’s not just that experiment that’s responsible, either. During the…

Sigh. Here we go again. Robert De Niro is letting his antivaccine freak flag fly again, this time even higher than usual, by revealing that in the wake of the antivaccine debacle at his Tribeca Film Festival he is going to make his very own documentary about vaccines. It’s the continuation of a process that,…

After yesterday’s epic mid-week rant about a man who thinks he knows what skepticism is but clearly doesn’t, it’s time to get back to business. The best way to do that is to go back to an article that came out the other day and that I had meant to blog about but temporarily shelved…

It is an unquestioned belief among believers in alternative medicine and even just among many people who do not trust conventional medicine that conventional medicine kills. Not only does exaggerating the number of people who die due to medical complications or errors fit in with the world view of people like Mike Adams and Joe…

I heard the news yesterday morning. I was in clinic seeing patients. It was a bit of a slow morning; there was time between patients. So I spent it, as is my wont when clinic is a bit slow, signing charts (OK, signing off on charts in the electronic medical record; I haven’t actually physically…

Now that I’ve dispensed with Mike Adams’ attacks (for now), It’s time to get back to business as usual. No way am I going to let Adams interfere with the business of this blog for more than one day to take note of it, even though he’s now gone basically batshit crazy. Unfortunately, no sooner…

It sucks to be diagnosed with cancer at any age, but it especially sucks to be young and diagnosed with cancer. The prompt application of science-based cancer treatment is important for anyone with cancer, but it’s especially important for young people with cancer, because they have the most life-years to lose if they dawdle or…

Celebrities who support pseudoscience and quackery are worse than regular, run-of-the-mill believers because they have a much larger soapbox than any of us do. I have a pretty healthy blog traffic for a medical blog, but even I don’t reach more than maybe 10,000 people a day. Even at my not-so-super-secret other blog, we only…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of John Ioannidis. (If you don’t believe me, just type Ioannidis’ name into the blog search box and see how many posts you find.) Over the last couple of decades, Ioannidis has arguably done more to reveal the shortcomings of the medical research enterprise that undergirds our treatments,…

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…

Whenever a story like Robert De Niro’s decision to choose an antivaccine film by Andrew Wakefield for screening at his prestigious Tribeca Film Festival followed by his decision to drop the film like the proverbial hot potato upon being shown just how full of misinformation, distortions, and pseudoscience the film is shows up, I not…

I knew it wouldn’t take long. I just knew it. The moment I learned that Robert De Niro had reversed himself and decided to pull Andrew Wakefield’s dishonest antivaccine propaganda “documentary” from his Tribeca Film Festival after having admitted that he was the one who had greased the wheels to get it accepted for screening…

I’ve written several times over the years about the overblown claims of harm attributed, largely—but not exclusively—by cranks, to cell phone radiation. It’s been claimed that radiation from cell phones can cause brain tumors (there’s no convincing evidence that this is true), breast cancer (the evidence for these claims is so incredibly flimsy—and featured by…