Religion

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Religion

Epigenetics. As I’ve described before, to alternative medicine practitioners, epigenetics seems to mean something akin to what the word “quantum” means: Magic. I’ve covered, for example, the woo-filled stylings of Deepak Chopra invoking things like “quantum consciousness,” and seemingly for quite a few years the best way to slap a patina of “sciencey”-sounding credibility on…

Why do doctors deny evolution?

Yesterday was a long day, starting in the operating room and finishing at a dinner reception for our visiting speaker today. As a result, when I arrived home, I was sawing the proverbial logs within five or ten minutes of hitting the couch, more or less without realizing it. I was going to just skip…

A common criticism aimed at those of us who are highly critical of various alternative medicine treatments and, in particular, of the “integration” of such treatments into conventional medical treatment is: What’s the harm? What, they ask, is the harm of homeopathy, acupuncture, iridology, or traditional Chinese medicine? They argue that it’s pretty much harmless,…

J.J. has a chance to live!

Over the years I’ve written about a lot of topics. After all, I’ve been at this for more than a decade now, and I still grind out four or five posts per week, with only occasional breaks for vacations or medical or scientific meetings. Topics have included science-based medicine, antivaccine nonsense, topics of general skepticism,…

There are some antivaccine lies that just never die. Well, actually, most of them are very much like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger in that, just when you think you’ve killed them at the end of the latest confrontation, they always come back. Always. As an example of this, let’s go back four…

I’m depressed and angry as I write this. The reason for this is simple. I hate it when cancer quacks claim the lives of patients with cancer, particularly patients who were eminently treatable for cure. It’s happened again, and it makes me sad. Florida cancer quack Brian Clement has claimed the life of Makayla Sault,…

“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…

After yesterday’s post on the depressingly high (and increasing, apparently) rate of personal belief exemptions to vaccination requirements for entering school in the state of Michigan, I felt the need to pontificate a bit further. The reason is that MLive.com has posted some followup stories. Also, I didn’t have a lot of time last night…

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

I happened to have a busy day yesterday, and in addition today’s a deadline to submit a letter of intent for a grant application, as well as to write a response to some criticism in a letter to the editor of my recent Nature Reviews Cancer article. (Trust me, it’s fun.) Never one to let…

A few weeks ago, Steve Novella invited me on his podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, to discuss a cancer case that has been in the news for several months now. The case was about an 11-year-old girl with leukemia who is a member of Canada’s largest aboriginal community. Steve wrote about this case…

Why reiki masters can’t lose

Regular readers of my not-so-super-secret other blog, where I write under my own name, know that last month Steve Novella and I published a rather nice (if I do say so myself) opinion piece in a peer-reviewed journal about what we called “clinical trials of magic.” In it, we argued that certain alternative medicine modalities…

There are some myths, bits of misinformation, or lies about medicine that I like to refer to zombie quackery. The reasons are obvious. Like at the end of a horror movie, just when you think the myth is finally dead, its rotting hand rises out of the dirt to grab your leg and drag you…

I’ve been a bit of a bad, bad boy. Well, not exactly. Rather, I’ve just been a bit lazy and/or forgetful. I know, I know. How can the ultimate Tarial cell-fueled supercomputer in the neat, compact form of a Plexiglass-encased cube of multicolored blinking lights be lazy or forgetful? Maybe “lazy and forgetful” are the…

Alternative medicine as religion, again

Over the years, I’ve often likened alternative medicine to a religion—or even a cult. Basically, it requires belief in a set of precepts that have at best little and more commonly no evidence to support them that is often accompanied by magical thinking that a god-substitute, be it nature, one’s body, or, of course, the…

More Tooth Fairy science studying acupuncture

I must confess, I had a rather rough time yesterday. Actually, it’s been a rough winter, at least as far as my car is concerned. Record amounts of snow and a January much colder than usual have wreaked havoc on the roads around where I live, producing craters that make our roads and freeways look…

The other day, I got to thinking about cults. The reason is that it’s been clear to me for some time that the antivaccine movement is a quack cult. In fact, a lot of quack groups are very cultish, the example that reminded me of this having been an excellent report published by a young…

Sarah Hershberger comes home to die

It was a couple of weeks ago that I last provided an update on the case of Sarah Hershberger, the 11-year-old Amish girl from Medina County, Ohio with lymphoblastic lymphoma whose parents decided to stop her chemotherapy because of how sick it was making her. As I explained early on and on multiple occasions afterward,…

I fear that Sarah Hershberger is now doomed

I am afraid. I am afraid that the Amish girl with cancer whose parents’ battle to treat her with “natural” therapy instead of effective science-based chemotherapy has made international news, is doomed. It might take longer than doctors have estimated, but it seems inevitable now. I will explain. It’s hard to believe that it’s been…

It figures. Whenever there’s a holiday or a break where I’m not paying as much attention to the blog as usual, something always seems to happen regarding a story I’m interested and have been blogging about. Remember Sarah Hershberger? She’s 11 year old Amish girl who developed lymphoblastic lymphoma, underwent one round of chemotherapy, suffered…

Deepak Chopra continues his woo-ful whining

Last week, everyone’s favorite woo-meister, the man whose woo is so strong that I even coined a term for it way back in the early mists of time (at least as far as this blog is concerned), was woo-fully whining about all those allegedly nasty skeptics on Wikipedia. Yes, Deepak Chopra was clutching his pearls…

About a year ago, I became aware of the latest celebrity antivaccinationist with a penchant for saying truly stupid things and thus making an even bigger fool of himself than he usually does. I’m referring to Rob “makin’ copies” Schneider, who most recently has been making waves for narrating a misinformation-packed “viral” video about the…

It occurs to me that things have been perhaps overly serious here at the ol’ blog for the last couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong. I think I done good lately, if I do say so myself. However, the constant drumbeat of quackery and depressing stories takes its toll after a while. I need…

Here we go again. Over the last month or so, I’ve been intermittently writing about a very sad case, a case that reminds me of too many cases that have come before, such as Abraham Cherrix, Kate Wernecke, Daniel Hauser, and Jacob Stieler. All of these are stories of children who were diagnosed with highly…