Popular culture

Category archives for Popular culture

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…

Ever since moving back to the Detroit area nearly seven years ago, one thing I’ve noticed is a propensity for our local news outlets to go full pseudoscience from time to time. I’m not sure why, other than perhaps that it attracts eyeballs to the screen, but, in reality, most of these plunges into pseudoscience…

Merry Christmas from Deepak Chopra

As Orac takes a couple of days to commune with family (as amazing as it is, yes, a Plexiglass box of blinking colored lights has a family) and celebrate the season, here’s a lost Christmas gem from Deepak Chopra, who interprets Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately, embedding is disabled; so you’ll have to…

I hope my U.S. readers have all had a happy Thanksgiving. Today has been known at least since the mid-1970s as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Whether it’s still true or not, given the relentless proliferation, progression, and metastasis—yes, the use of terms related to cancer is intentional—of holiday sales right…

Here we go yet again. I’ve been interested in the Ebola outbreak that’s been going on for months in west Africa for a number of reasons. First, it’s a bad disease, and this is the largest outbreak in history. over 5,000 people have died. Second, there’s been a lot of unreasonable fear mongering about the…

Getting old sucks. I had a relatively long and busy day in the operating room yesterday, the kind of day that not so long ago I’d handle with no problem. This time around, though, it wiped me out, to the point where not long after dinner I crashed. Hard. Then I woke up around midnight…

One thing that happened this week that I didn’t get around to writing about is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jonas Salk, which was October 28. In the annals of medicine, few people have had as immediate a positive effect as Jonas Salk did when he developed the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). At…

One of the biggest medical conspiracy theories for a long time has been that there exist out there all sorts of fantastic cures for cancer and other deadly diseases but you can’t have them because (1) “they” don’t want you to know about them (as I like to call it, the Kevin Trudeau approach) and/or…

These things always seem to happen on Friday. Well, not really. It’s probably just confirmation bias, but it seems that a lot of things I’d like to blog about happen on a Friday. That leaves me the choice of either breaking my unofficial rule not to blog on the weekend or waiting until Monday, when…

Countering the misinformation regularly promulgated by the antivaccine movement, be it antivaccinationists who are completely off the deep end, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the crew at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism, or that epitome of the Dunning-Kruger effect mixed with an annoying self-absorption and coffee klatch vibe (that is when it’s not…

It’s been a bad week for celebrity quacks; that is, after starting out looking as though it would be a good week. For example, as I discussed a couple of days ago, contender for the title of world’s most brain dead antivaccine conspiracy theorist, washed up comedian Rob Schneider, having somehow managed to land a…

This post, although it is about an interview with a CDC scientist named William W. Thompson that resulted from the whole “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy that’s been flogged relentlessly for the last two weeks, since antivaccine “heros” Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker released a despicable race-bating video flogging Hooker’s utterly incompetent reanalysis of a ten year…