Popular culture

Respectful Insolence

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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…

Epic rap battles: ZDoggMD versus Dr. Oz

It had to be done. With all the quackery and pseudoscience promoted by TV doctors like Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and “The Doctors,” sooner or later someone had to choose a manner other than blogging to call them out. ZDoggMD has done just that, particularly dissing Dr. Oz. Why? Why not. Because: Why dis Dr.…

Well, well, well, well, well. Look who’s coming to blight my hometown, and look who’s doing it hot on the heels of my having directed some not-so-Respectful Insolence at him. Yes, it’s Deepak Chopra himself showing up on Saturday to bring his woo to one of the places that least needs it, downtown Detroit: Excitement…

Remember Deepak Chopra? He’s the physician (yes, physician) whose grasp on real science is so tenuous and whose ability to abuse multiple scientific disciplines, ranging from quantum physics to astronomy to genetics to medicine, simultaneously in the service of woo is so amazing that a few years ago I once coined a term representing the…

Detoxifying fashionably

How many times have I read or heard from believers in “alternative” medicine that some disease or other is caused by “toxins”? I honestly can’t remember, but in alt-world, no matter what the disease or condition under discussion is, there’s a good chance that sooner or later it will be linked to “toxins.” It doesn’t…

I and others have often written about how “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) represent a “bait and switch.” The basic concept is that CAM/IM has co-opted several ostensibly science-based modalities, such as diet, exercise, relaxation, and the like. These are used as the bait by representing them as being somehow “alternative”…

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Eat the sun?

With the utter ridiculousness of the arguments laid down by Dr. Oz when Steve Novella appeared on his show and the even more ridiculous silliness of J.B. Handley thinking that Matt Carey, a.k.a. Sullivan, is really Bonnie Offit, I had originally thought that I should find some peer-reviewed scientific article today to do a sober,…

UPDATE 4/27/2011: Dr. Novella has written up a detailed description of his experiences on The Dr. Oz Show. Please read it. Also note that the online video for Dr. Novella’s appearance is now available: Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 1 Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 2 Controversial Medicine: Alternative Health, Part 3 I can’t believe…

ImmuniLies, or: Get your vax on!

Hot on the heels of his excellent effort Immunize, ZDoggMD is back for a followup. Unfortunately, his partner in crime, Dr. Chase McCallister, billionnaire hemorrhoid surgeon, whose woo-fighting alter-ego is Doc Quixote, screwed up. Wandering into the University of Google, he came up with a rap that would do Mike Adams proud: More reason than…

Excellent! It’s about time the bigger guns started getting involved. Remember the anti-vaccine ads being run on the big CBS JumboTron in Times Square? Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics has finally weighted in to complaint. Here’s the letter: April 13, 2011 Mr. Wally Kelly Chairman and CEO CBS Outdoor 405 Lexington Ave., 14th floor…

Grammar Nazis

Sometimes I complain on this blog about grammar Nazis. I had no idea at the time that grammar Nazis might actually be a real phenomenon. Of course, I’d be dead because my unedited material all too frequently contains multiple run-on sentences. True, I almost always find them later when I reread my posts and then…