Science

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Science

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…

I’ve written a lot about a doctor named Stanislaw Burzynski who claims to have much better outcomes in treating deadly brainstem tumors than conventional oncology does. Although the way he claims to do it is through the use of substances he calls “antineoplastons,” which he claimed to have isolate from the urine of patients. Over…

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Besides indulging my taste for shamelessly working lyrics from Led Zeppelin and other classic bands into my post, what am I talking about? Simple. Things have been way too serious lately. I mean, just look at yesterday’s post.…

Over the weekend, as I was contemplating what to write about for today, I received a rather odd and unexpected e-mail. Indeed, it was with great surprise that I read this e-mail on Saturday morning, sent to the Burzynski Movie mailing list: Dear Burzynski Movie Subscribers: Major International Distribution Deal For Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious…

Epigenetics. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. I realize I overuse that little joke, but I can’t help but think that virtually every time I see advocates of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or, as it’s known more commonly now, “integrative medicine” discussing epigenetics.…

About a year and a half ago, I applied a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence to a a clueless article about the the “triumph” of New Age medicine. The article channeled the worst fallacies of apologists for alternative medicine. Basically, its whole idea appeared to be that, even if most of “complementary and alternative medicine”…

Remember Dr. Sin Hang Lee? If you don’t remember Lee, maybe you remember a while back, when the antivaccine group SaneVax touted findings that it claimed were devastating to Gardasil. Specifically, they claimed that there was vaccine-derived human papilloma virus DNA in Gardasi. Ring any bells yet? And it turns out that the guy who…

It’s no secret that I have little but contempt for radical animal rights activists. I make no apologies for this and, quite frankly, consider my contempt for them well-justified based on their behavior and words. Be it their fetishization of violence against researchers who use animals, their threatening of students in order to frighten them…

One of the hazards of standing up for science and science-based medicine (and against cranks) is that some of these cranks will try to contact you at work. That’s why I have a policy about blog-related e-mails sent to me work address, and that policy is that I usually ignore them, whereas I might actually…

Our pharma overlords will be displeased…

There’s an oft-quoted saying that’s become a bit of a cliché among skeptics that goes something like this: There are two kinds of medicine: medicine that’s been proven scientifically to work, and medicine that hasn’t. This is then often followed up with a rhetorical question and its answer: What do call “alternative medicine” that’s been…

Ideologically motivated bad science, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies irritate me. In fact, arguably, they are the very reason I started this blog. True, over time my focus has narrowed. I used to write a lot more about creationism, more general skeptical topics, Holocaust denial, 9/11 Trutherism, and the like, but these days I rarely write…

Overselling preclinical results

As part of my ongoing effort to make sure that I never run out of blogging material, I subscribe to a number of quack e-mail newsletters. In fact, sometimes I think I’ve probably overdone it. Every day, I get several notices and pleas from various wretched hives of scum and quackery, such as NaturalNews.com, Mercola.com,…

A crank attacks the Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was one of the most massive scientific undertakings in recent years and, from a basic science and technology development standpoint, one of the most productive. The data gained formed the basis of the genomic revolution. And “revolution” is the right word. A mere 12 years after the human genome sequence…

If only… (Or, no science for you!)

I must admit, there are times when I see something that someone else has written and, in a fit of intense envy, wish very much that I had written it. This is just such a time, and Tony Ballantyne has written just such a piece. Even better, his piece, entitled If only…, was published in…

If there’s one thing I’ve been railing about for the last few years, it’s how scientific and medical studies are reported in the lay press. It seems that hardly a week passes without my having to apply a little Insolence, be it Respectful or not-so-Respectful, to some story or another, usually as a result of…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Well, not really, although it has been a while since I’ve discussed Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. Specifically, I last dedicated a post to him following the death of one of his famous patients, Billie Bainbridge, who incidentally had become…

Jamy Ian Swiss on science-based skepticism

As the last full weekday of my vacation passes, I thought about whether I’d bother to post anything or not, given that I happen to be traveling. After yesterday’s post, the subject of which was profoundly depressing to me because I hate it when quacks take cynical advantage of a grieving family to promote their…

I must admit, I’ve been enjoying my vacation thus far and have hardly paid attention to the blog, other than a couple of quick posts. For me, this is quite amazing. Still, every so often there pops up a story that I can’t resist commenting on, particularly given that I’m just sitting around watching the…

One of the consistent themes I’ve maintained on this blog over the years is to combat in my own small way in my own small corner of the Internet, the influx into medical academia of medicine based not on science, but on prescientific notions of disease, vitalism, and magic, such as homeopathy (which is sympathetic…

Do we need algebra? Are you kidding me?

And now for something completely different… Well, not really, but kind of different. I realize that my niche here has become discussing science-based medicine, evidence-based medicine, and the atrocities committed against both by proponents of so-called “complementary and alternative” medicine, but every so often I need a change of pace. Unfortunately, that change of pace…

And now for something completely different. Except that it isn’t really. I say that it isn’t really different because, although this post will seem to be about politics, in reality it will be about a common topic on this blog: Anti-science. And where is this anti-science? Sadly, it’s in the platform of a major party…

A misguided “chalkboard talk”

Sometimes I feel like Dug, the talking dog in the movie Up, in that when it comes to blogging I’m often easily distracted. The reason I say this is because there’s been a “viral” (if you can call it that) video floating around the antivaccine quackery blogosphere that antivaccinationists are passing around as though it’s…