Science

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Science

The holidays must truly be over. I say this because, starting around Sunday, the drumbeat of blogging topics that I haven’t covered but that apparently you, my readers, want me to cover has accelerated. However, before I can move on to what might or might not be greener blogging pastures, material-wise, I feel obligated to…

Seven years ago I returned to Michigan, where I was born and spent the first quarter century of my life, after an absence of more than 20 years. In the interim, I had done my surgical residency and earned my PhD in Cleveland, a surgical oncology fellowship in Chicago, and worked in New Jersey at…

She’s baa-aack. Remember Stephanie Seneff? When last Orac discussed her, she had been caught dumpster diving into the VAERS database in order to torture the data to make it confess a “link” between aluminum adjuvants in vaccines and acetaminophen and—you guessed it!—autism. It was a bad paper in a bad journal known as Entropy that…

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…

After I woke up this morning, the haze induced by feasting and hanging out with family only slowly clearing, I debated about whether I wanted to post anything at all today. After all, in much of the English-speaking world, it’s still a holiday, Boxing Day. Although not an official holiday here in the US, when…

Congress polishes the turd that was NCCAM

With the way our dysfunctional federal government works, it’s not uncommon for the end of a fiscal year to come and go without there being a budget for the next fiscal year in place. This phenomenon is particularly common during election years, and this year was no different. September 30 came and went, followed by…

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…