Religion

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Religion

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…

One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last (nearly) nine years blogging about pseudocience, quackery, and conspiracy theories is that a person who believes in one form of woo has a tendency to believe in other forms of woo. You’ve probably noticed it too. I’ve lost count of the examples that I’ve seen…

If there’s one thing antivaccinationists hate having pointed out to them, it’s that they are antivaccine. If you really want to drive an antivaccinationist up the wall, point out that they are antivaccine. Sure, there are a few antivaccinationists who openly self-identify as antivaccine and are even proud of it, but most of them realize…

Religion and quackery: Pure synergy

Those of us who support science-based medicine and do our part to expose and combat quackery are naturally outraged at how rarely quacks are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All too often, all we can expect is for doctors practicing such chicanery to lose their medical licenses and be temporarily shut down.…

I suppose it’s possible that there might be doubt that Rob Schneider has become a complete and total antivaccine wingnut. Possible, but not reasonable. After all, he’s shown his cards and risen to prominence with his attacks on vaccine science made as part of his effort to oppose the passage of California Bill AB 2109,…

I might as well lay it on the line right at the beginning. It’s not as though it will surprise my regular readers given what I’ve been writing here, most recently about when Rob Schneider played the Nazi card to express his opposition to California Bill AB2109. It’s a bill that does something very simple…

Since I seem to be on a roll the last few days discussing cancer quackery, I thought I’d just go with it at least one more day. Frequently, when I get on these rolls laying down the Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, over antivaccine quackery I start whining about how I need to change topics,…

A couple of days ago, I did one of my usual bits of pontification about alternative medicine, this time around pointing out how religion facilitates the magical thinking that undergirds so much pseudoscientific medicine and how the belief systems that underlie so so much of alternative medicine resembel the belief systems that underlie religion. However,…

Alternative medicine as religion

Over the years, I’ve often likened non-science-based medical belief systems to religion. It’s not a hard argument to make. Religion involves believing in things that can’t be proven scientifically; indeed, religion makes a virtue out of ignoring the evidence and accepting various beliefs on faith alone. Similarly, alternative medicine frequently tells you that you have…

Remember Vox Day? Newer converts to the glory that is Orac (or at least to the ego that is Orac) might not know who Vox is because it’s been a while since I’ve discussed his antiscience attitudes. By and large, this is probably a good thing, given that Vox denies evolution, has been antivaccine from…