Popular culture

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Popular culture

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been spending a significant part of my time countering pseudoscience for close to 17 years, so long that it seems that I’ve always been doing it. Of course, that’s not true; I didn’t actually become involved in this seemingly never-ending Sisyphean task until I was in my…

Last week, a group of ten doctors led by Dr. Henry Miller, most of whom were affiliated either with the Hoover Institution or the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)—or both—wrote a letter to Lee Goldman, MD, the Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University complaining that Dr. Mehmet…

It would appear that some people got the impression that, just because I questioned whether a recent publicity stunt in which ten doctors and researchers, led by a well-known pro-GMO activist working for the Hoover Institution, Dr. Henry Miller, sent a letter to the dean at Columbia University in essence asking him to fire Oz…

I didn’t think I would be writing about this, but, then again, I seem to say that fairly frequently. Be that as it may, on Friday I wrote about a letter sent to Lee Goldman, MD, the Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University complaining about Dr. Mehmet Oz’s promotion…

America’s quack, dissected yet again

If there’s one doctor who irritates me possibly more than any other, it’s got to be “America’s Doctor,” a.k.a. Dr. Mehmet Oz, thanks to The Dr. Oz Show. He’s been an all too frequent topic on this blog and at my not-so-super-secret other blog. Of course, I refer to him as “America’s quack,” because, well,…

It never ceases to amaze me how very smart people can miss some very obvious points. Now, as most of my readers know, I was at NECSS over the weekend. Because I was busy giving a talk, doing panels, and then enjoying other speakers’ talks, I wasn’t paying much attention to some of the issues…

I spent a nice long weekend in New York at NECSS, which has grown to quite the big skeptical conference since the last time I was there five years ago. The Friday Science-Based Medicine session went quite well and, as far as I could tell, appeared to be well-received; so hopefully we will be doing…

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…

I’ve spend considerable time documenting the utter pseudoscience, misinformation, and downright idiocy about “chemicals” in food regularly inflicted on the public by the misguided “food activist” named Vani Hari, who is better known by the moniker she chose for herself “The Food Babe.” Indeed, in decade-plus that I’ve been running this blog and the few…

Recent articles in The Daily Mail and The Australian reminded me that it’s been over a month since the unfortunate demise of Jess Ainscough, a young Australian woman who was diagnosed with an epithelioid sarcoma of her left upper extremity in 2008. Before I get to the articles, a brief recap is in order. This…

It’s been a while since I discussed medical marijuana, even though it’s a topic I’ve been meaning to come back to since I first dubbed medical marijuana to be the equivalent of herbalism and discussed how the potential of cannabinoids to treat cancer has been, thus far, unimpressive, with relatively modest antitumor effects. The reason…

To put it mildly, I’m not a big fan of Vani Hari, who has achieved Internet notoriety as a highly misguided “food activist” better known as The Food Babe. As The Food Babe, Hari has improbably become a minor celebrity by attacking food companies over various ingredients their products and, unfortunately, seems poised for more.…

How quickly things change. If there’s one thing I always feel obligated to warn my fellow pro-science advocates about vaccines and the antivaccine movement, it’s that we can never rest on our laurels or assume that the tide is turning in our direction. The reason is simple: Antivaccinationism is a powerful belief system, every bit…

Anyone who’s read this blog knows my opinion of Mike Adams, the proprietor of the quack website known as NaturalNews.com. It is not favorable, to put it mildly. All you have to do to realize that is to type his name into the search box of this blog and see what comes up: Anger at…

“I don’t want knowledge. I want certainty!” –David Bowie, from Law (Earthlings on Fire) I know I’ve already said this once, but I have to say it again, but it’s been a rather stressful week on the old blog, but I hadn’t planned on writing about this particular topic again (although I will say that…

One of the things I’ve noticed over the last decade of covering pseudoscience and quackery from a skeptical point of view is that no pseudoscientific trope ever really dies. This is particularly true of antivaccine tropes. No matter how many times this piece or that of antivaccine misinformation is slapped down, sooner or later it…

Alternative oncology versus oncology

I hadn’t planned on discussing the death of Jess Ainscough again, figuring two posts in a row were enough for now, barring new information. Besides, I was getting a little tired of the seemingly unending stream of her fans castigating me for being “insensitive” and saying it was “too soon” to discuss her death and…

It’s been a rather…interesting…weekend. Friday, I noted the death of Jess Ainscough, a.k.a. “The Wellness Warrior,” a young Australian woman who was unfortunate enough to develop epithelioid sarcoma, a rare cancer, at the age of 22. I’ve been blogging about her because after her doctors tried isolated limb perfusion with chemotherapy in an attempt to…

It’s been a while since I’ve taken notice of Vani Hari, a.k.a. The Food Babe, the misguided “food safety” activist who sees chemicals, chemicals, chemicals everywhere and raises fears about them all, especially the ones that she can’t pronounce. The first time I took any significant notice of her was about a year ago, when…

“I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice as well. So that’s a balance the government has to decide.” — NJ Governor Chris Christie, February 2, 2015 “The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), February 2,…

Yesterday, I wrote about false balance in reporting on vaccines in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak. For those who’ve never encountered this blog, what I mean by false balance is when journalists, in a misguided belief that there are “two sides” (i.e., an actual scientific controversy) about the safety of childhood vaccines and…

Brief Orac follow up note, January 21, 2014: Antivaccine pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears responds to his patients’ parents’ concerns about the Disneyland measles outbreak. Hilarity ensues. Last week, the self-proclaimed “happiest place on earth” wasn’t so happy. You’ve probably figured out that what I’m referring to is the latest measles outbreak. Some of you have…

“Ultraspirituality”?

Last night I had an evening meeting for a CQI (continuous quality initiative) collaborative that I’m heavily involved in; so I didn’t get home until late. Unfortunately, that means I didn’t have the time to dish out the usual insolence for today. Fortunately, I do have a video lying around that made me chuckle and…

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…