Science

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Science

More examples of how influenza still kills

The flu season continues apace around my part of the country. I wrote about it about a week and a half ago, in particular how people don’t get their flu shots because they don’t think they need them, because they don’t think the flu is a serious disease. Two more stories illustrate this disconnect. For…

The CEO of Aetna embraces quackery

Everyone hates health insurance companies. At least, so it seems. Personally, I’ve had my issues with such companies myself, particularly when having to deal with them when they refuse to cover certain medical tests for my patients. Fortunately for me, surgical oncology is a specialty that doesn’t have a lot of tests or treatments that…

Practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) have a love-hate relationship with randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Actually, it’s mostly hate, but they do crave the validation that only randomized clinical trials can provide within the paradigm of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Yes, I intentionally said EBM, rather than science-based medicine (SBM), because, as I’ve described so…

Here we go again. In the wake of study after study that fails to find activity of various “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) beyond that of placebo, the campaign to a “rebrand” CAM as “working” through the “power of placebo” continues apace, in the wake of the successful campaign to “rebrand” various needle-based medical modalities…

One aspect of science-based medicine (SBM) that I perhaps don’t spend enough time and effort on is the intersection of law and medicine for areas in medicine other than the infiltration of pseudomedicine like “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) into academia and the never-ending quest of quacks like naturopaths to gain state licensure in states…

Life is a fatal disease

Believe it or not, even your ever-lovin’ box of colored blinking lights can malfunction, and it happened to me over the weekend. Actually, sometime around New Years, I caught some sort of crud, and have been battling it since. There’s nothing like hacking up a lung and not being able to sleep well for days…

And now for something completely different… Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to find new woo-filled claims or dangerous, evidence-lacking trends to write about. Heck, I did it just last week. Examining certain other health-related issues from a science-based perspective is more difficult, but I feel obligated to do it from time to time, not just…

Three weeks ago, USA TODAY published an expose of the Burzynski Clinic by Liz Szabo that was devastating in its scope and detail. Early on, Stanislaw Burzynski and his minions tried to do some damage control, with hilarious results given how inept and unconvincing his excuses were for all the violations of ethics and patient…

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been blogging nearly nine years. Indeed, my nine-year anniversary is coming up in just over a week. It’s been almost a decade! Early on during near-decade that I’ve been laying down bits of Insolence, Respectful, and Not-So-Respectful, I developed an interest in the antivaccine movement. Antivaccinationism, “antivax,”…

Well, Thanksgiving’s over, and the orgy of consumerism known as Black Friday is in full swing. Personally, I have to work, at least part of the day, and I don’t go anywhere near the stores on Black Friday anyway. I haven’t for years. So we might as well briefly discuss a bit of science today.…

I was very pleased last Friday, very pleased indeed. Given the normal subject matter of this blog, in which we face a seemingly unrelenting infiltration of pseudoscience and quackery into even the most hallowed halls of academic medicine, against which we seem to be fighting a mostly losing battle, having an opportunity to see such…

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…

Sarah Hershberger and Zija MLM

Like many cases of children with cancer whose parents tried to deny them curative therapy in the past that I’ve written about, I’ve become intensely interested in the case of 10-year-old Amish girl with lymphoblastic lymphoma. Her name is Sarah Hershberg, and, in a rare instance of the state actually stepping in to protect the…

This one’s too brief to be worth a full Orac-ian deconstruction, but it’s so juicy that I can’t resist mentioning. Regular readers know that Mike Adams, the all-purpose crank who founded NaturalNews.com, is a frequent target topic on this blog. The reason is obvious. Whether it be his support of quackery, his rants against vaccines,…

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…

For some reason, I can’t seem to escape Chicken McNuggets. About a month ago, I expressed my complete amusement over an “investigation” of Chicken McNuggets done by everyone’s favorite crank and quackery promoter, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. I’m tellin’ ya, it was like Inspector Clouseau with a microscope when Mike Adams expressed…

No matter how much I try, it seems that I can’t escape blogging about Stanislaw Burzynski. Regular readers here are familiar with Dr. Burzynski, the “maverick” cancer doctor (he’s not an oncologist) who claims that peptides he’s isolated from urine and now synthesizes in his lab and manufacturing facility are highly effective anticancer drugs, so…

More hilariously off-base genetics denialism

Things have been a bit too serious around here lately. After all, yesterday I wrote about obesity and chemotherapy, while the day before that I did an even lengthier than usual deconstruction of some claims by anti-Obamacare activists, which seemed particularly appropriate to me given that a group of wingnuts has just succeeded in mostly…

I don’t know how I missed this one, given that it’s over two weeks old, but I did. Since yesterday was a holiday in the US and I had done a long post the day before because something that happened on Friday had really irritated me, I figured I might as well take a stab…

CAM and scientific terms

One of the great things about this blog is the community that has built itself up over the last eight and a half years of this blog’s existence. It’s a truly amazing an humbling thing to me. I can’t believe that such an incredibly smart and talented bunch of advocates, gadflies, and quackbusters. True, I’ve…

Time really does fly. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a week since I gave my big (to me, at least) talk at TAM. It’s equally hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I had the honor of being kicked out of Penn Jillette’s Private Rock & Roll Bacon…

As I write this, I’m winging my way home from TAM, crammed uncomfortably—very uncomfortably—in a window seat in steerage—I mean, coach). I had thought of simply recounting the adventures of the contingent of skeptics with whom I’m associated who did make it out to TAM to give talks at workshops and the main stage and…

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…

Stem cells are magical, mystical things that can’t be explained. At least, if you listen to what docs and “practitioners” who run stem cell clinics in various parts of the world, usually where regulation is lax and money from First World clientele is much sought after, that’s what you could easily come to believe. Unfortunately,…

Here we go again. One of the greatest threats to biomedical research, in the U.S. at least, is the truly crappy research funding environment, a situation that hasn’t been this bad for at least 20 years. Labs are closing; investigators are giving up; and fewer of our young best and brightest are interested in a…