Science

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Science

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…

If there’s one thing about having a demanding day job, it’s that the cranks usually have the advantage. They can almost always hit first when a news story comes out that they can spin to attack their detested science. On the other hand, it usually ensures that by the time I get home, have dinner,…

Every so often there’s an article that starts making the rounds on social media, in particular Facebook and Twitter, that cries out for a treatment by yours truly. Actually, there are more such articles that are constantly circulating on social media that I could work full time blogging and still not cover them all. So…

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m not exactly a fan of “integrative oncology”—or integrative medicine, or “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or whatever its proponents want to call it these days. After all, I’ve spent nearly ten years writing this blog and nearly seven years running another blog dedicated 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…

I don’t think I mentioned this, but I’m on a bit of a staycation this week. I figured, what the heck? After coming home from Skepticon I could do with a little R&R. Of course, fool that I am, I still can’t resist blogging a bit. On the other hand, the day before Thanksgiving I…

I realize that I risk getting repetitive by writing about this again, but it’s a rich vein that just keeps on producing and producing. It also demonstrates that, for every tragedy as huge as the ongoing Ebola outbreak that has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa thus far, there always exist well-meaning people who…

I figured that yesterday’s post about the First Nations girl in Ontario with lymphoblastic leukemia whose parents stopped her chemotherapy in favor of “traditional” medicine would stir up a bit of controversy, and so it did, albeit much more at my not-so-super-secret other blog, which featured an expanded version of this post. Don’t worry, you…

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…

Of the many lies and myths about vaccines that stubbornly persist despite all evidence showing them not only to be untrue but to be risibly, pseudoscientifically untrue, among whose number are myths that vaccines cause autism, sudden infant death syndrome, and a syndrome that so resembles shaken baby syndrome (more correctly called abusive head trauma)…

Reiki propaganda in U.S. News & World Report

Sigh. Just a week ago, I deconstructed an awful article touting how the mass of prescientific quackery known as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as somehow being “validated” by modern science. Specifically, some truly misguided scientists were attempting to use modern systems biology techniques to look for biomarkers associated with TCM diagnoses such as “hot” or…

Medical conspiracy theories tend to involve “someone” hiding something from the public. I like to refer to this as the fallacy of “secret knowledge.” That “someone” hiding the “secret knowledge” is usually the government, big pharma, or other ill-defined nefarious forces. The “secret knowledge” being hidden comes invariably in one of two flavors. Either “they”…

“Autism-induced” breast cancer

Gayle DeLong has been diagnosed with what she refers to as “autism-induced” breast cancer.” She’s even given it an abbreviation, AIBC. Unfortunately, as you might be able to tell by the name she’s given her breast cancer, she is also showing signs of falling into the same errors in thinking with respect to her breast…

Two months ago, one of the strangest stories ever to be flogged by antivaccine activists was insinuating its way throughout social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else, where antivaccine activists were engaged in a frantic effort to get the attention of mainstream media regarding their belief that there was a “CDC whistleblower” who had…

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…

R.I.P., McKenzie Lowe. Unfortunately, Stanislaw Burzynski was no more able to save you than anyone else, his claims of great success treating pediatric brain tumors notwithstanding: HUDSON — Thirteen-year-old Hudson resident McKenzie Lowe died Friday evening after a 2-year-battle against an aggressive and inoperable brain stem tumor. McKenzie died at 10:27 p.m. in her own…

If there is one thing that the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Africa has revealed to the world, it’s the full extent of quackery that is out there and advertised as being able to treat deadly diseases such as Ebola. The deadlier the disease, the more quackery is out there, amplified by the scariness of the…

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…

Does anyone remember the H1N1 influenza pandemic? As hard as it is to believe, that was five years ago. One thing I remember about the whole thing is just how crazy both the antivaccine movement and conspiracy theorists (but I repeat myself) went over the public health campaigns to vaccinate people against H1N1. It was…

The victims of Andrew Wakefield

Things got a bit hectic the other day; so if this seems familiar, forgive me. On the other hand, I do believe that this material is probably more suited to this blog rather than other blogs, given the history here and how long I’ve been covering the quackery spawned by Andrew Wakefield, arguably the most…

Quackademic medicine in Connecticut

A common topic that I’ve written about since the very beginning of this blog is the infiltration of quackery into what were formerly bastions of science-based medicine. Most recently, I lamented just how far this process has progressed at the Cleveland Clinic, as evidenced by its recent opening of a clinic devoted to the quackery…

Well, Naturopathic Medicine Week 2014 (or, as I like to refer to it, Quackery Week) is fast drawing to a close; so I figured I’d end it with one last post. Since several of you liked my post a couple of days ago Sh*t naturopaths say and agreed with me when I suggested at the…

Quackery has been steadily infiltrating academic medicine for at least two decades now in the form of what was once called “complementary and alternative medicine” but is now more commonly referred to as “integrative medicine.” Of course, as I’ve written many times before, what “integrative medicine” really means is the “integration” of quackery with science-…

Sh*t naturopaths say

I mentioned yesterday that this week is Naturopathic Medicine Week 2014, or, as I like to call it, Quackery Week. At the time, I wasn’t sure when or if I was going to do another post about the quackery that is naturopathy this week. I was going to play it by ear and see what…

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…