Popular culture

Respectful Insolence

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I remember during medical school that more than one of my faculty used to have a regularly repeated crack that the only thing that taking vitamin supplements could do for you was to produce expensive pee. My first year in medical school was nearly thirty years ago now; so it’s been a long time. During…

These days, Dr. Oz seems to stand for everything I oppose in medicine: Fear mongering, quackery, making claims that he can’t back up with science, and, of course, filthy lucre. On second thought, I’m not against filthy lucre per se. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having some of it myself. However, I also want to…

If there’s one medical treatment that proponents of “alternative medicine” love to hate, it’s chemotherapy. Rants against “poisoning” are a regular staple on “alternative health” websites, usually coupled with insinuations or outright accusations that the only reason oncologists administer chemotherapy is because of the “cancer industrial complex” in which big pharma profits massively from selling…

Most, if not virtually all, of what is now referred to as “traditional Chinese medicine” is quackery. I realize that it’s considered “intolerant” and not politically correct to say that in these days of “integrative medicine” departments infiltrating academic medical centers like so much kudzu enveloping a telephone pole, but I don’t care. I’m supposed…

Blogging is a rather immediate endeavor. Over the last nine years (nearly), I’ve lost track of how many times I saw something that I wanted to blog about but but by the time I got around to it was no longer topical. Usually what happens is that my Dug the Dog tendencies take over, as…

For some reason, I can’t seem to escape Chicken McNuggets. About a month ago, I expressed my complete amusement over an “investigation” of Chicken McNuggets done by everyone’s favorite crank and quackery promoter, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. I’m tellin’ ya, it was like Inspector Clouseau with a microscope when Mike Adams expressed…

My goodness, when it rains, it pours, to use a cliche. (And I’m not about anything if not throwing in the odd cliche in my writing from time to time.) Just yesterday, I discussed the resurrection of an antivaccine zombie meme, namely the claim that Maurice Hilleman admitted that the polio vaccine that was contaminated…

Yesterday, I did a bit of navel gazing about how cranks, quacks, and antivaccinationists have a penchant for attacking skeptics at work in order to try to intimidate them into silence. Reading the post over again, I realize that it came across perhaps more whiny than it should have, but I guess I was just…

I’ve made no secret of my opinion of Jenny McCarthy. To put it mildly, I don’t think that much of her, particularly her flaming stupid when it comes to her promotion of dangerous antivaccine nonsense. To her, vaccines are chock full of “toxins” and all sorts of evil humors that will turn your child autistic…

Time really does fly. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a week since I gave my big (to me, at least) talk at TAM. It’s equally hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I had the honor of being kicked out of Penn Jillette’s Private Rock & Roll Bacon…

Chalk one up for the forces of anti-science, quackery, and pseudoscience. The citizens of Portland, Oregon just handed them a huge victory the other day when they once again rejected water fluoridation in a referendum: Fluoride supporters, it appeared, had everything going for them. Five Portland city commissioners had voted to add fluoride to the…

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. OK, I know I use that line entirely too much, but I also don’t really care. When something fits, wear it. And if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Sorry, I’ll stop. I’m in a weird mood as I write this. But it’s…

Manufactroversy. It’s wonderful, made-up word that describes a phenomenon so aptly, so brilliantly, that I like to use it all the time. Basically the word describes a manufactured controversy that is motivated by either extreme ideology (virtually always crank ideology) and/or profit that is intentionally stoked to create public confusion about a scientific issue that…

I should have known it. I should have known that the reaction wouldn’t take very long. I should have known it based on prior history. The news story to which I am referring is, of course, the revelation yesterday in the New York Times editorial page by Angelina Jolie that she had decided to undergo…

Gary Null loves me! He really loves me! Well, maybe not Gary Null, but Sayer Ji. You remember Sayer Ji, don’t you? He’s the guy who runs GreenMedInfo.com who showed up on my skeptical radar when he claimed that vaccines are “transhumanism” that subverts evolution. (Seriously, you can’t make stuff like this up.) On another…

I’m sure this is a case where someone thought it was a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s an astoundingly bad idea: The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is bringing McCarthy to town March 2 to headline its annual Bust a Move fundraiser as a guest fitness instructor. But the actress, author and…

In the beginning, medicine was religion. Indeed, if you look at the history of medicine, you’ll see that the very first physicians were virtually always religious figures in addition to their roles as healers. Indeed, in ancient Egypt, for example, the professions of priest and healer were one, and most medicine involved incantations, invocations of…

Everything Everything gives you cancer Everything Everything gives you cancer There’s no cure, there’s no answer Everything gives you cancer – Joe Jackson I don’t write about nutrition as much as other topics because I’m not as knowledgeable about it as I am about, say, cancer, vaccines, and what constitutes good medical evidence. (I am,…

I take back all those nice things I used to say about Nancy Snyderman. There’s no doubt that she “gets it” about vaccines and, for the most part, even though she does occasionally go overboard, and her understanding of the issues involved in the use of various vaccines is anything but nuanced. I used to…

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)…

A misguided “chalkboard talk”

Sometimes I feel like Dug, the talking dog in the movie Up, in that when it comes to blogging I’m often easily distracted. The reason I say this is because there’s been a “viral” (if you can call it that) video floating around the antivaccine quackery blogosphere that antivaccinationists are passing around as though it’s…

I’ve pointed out before that pover the last couple of years I’ve become a bit of a fan of old time radio, having discovered Radio Classics on Sirius XM Radio. I don’t remember how I discovered it, but I rapidly became hooked on shows like Suspense, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, The Whistler, Gunsmoke, Dragnet, The…

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting imbibing the latest and greatest that science-based medicine has to offer against cancer. The AACR is mainly a basic science and translational meeting; so a lot of this stuff is seriously preclinical. That’s what makes it interesting, though. In any case, my…

Unfortunately, I don’t get to see very many movies these days. My wife and I both lead very busy lives, and with periodic spasms of grant writing, plus several new administrative responsibilities, it’s just hard. Last weekend, however, a movie that I’d rather like to see came out. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet; so…

Since I was still recovering from TAM9 last night and crashed on the couch at around 9 PM, I didn’t have time for one of my usual logorrheic posts. I did, however, have time to take note of an update on a story I started covering six years ago. One of the greatest things about…