Science

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Science

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…

I’ve pointed out before that pover the last couple of years I’ve become a bit of a fan of old time radio, having discovered Radio Classics on Sirius XM Radio. I don’t remember how I discovered it, but I rapidly became hooked on shows like Suspense, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, The Whistler, Gunsmoke, Dragnet, The…

When I saw the latest screed from that very living embodiment of crank magnetism, Mike Adams, I chuckled. I sent it around to some fellow skeptics, including, for instance, the crew at The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, as well as acquaintances and friends of mine because I couldn’t believe it. Adams, as loony as…

It’s no secret that over the years I’ve been very critical of a law passed nearly 20 years ago, commonly referred to as the DSHEA of 1994. The abbreviation DSHEA stands for about as Orwellian a name for a law as I can imagine: the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Of course, as we’ve…

You know, I really, really hate the way quacks abuse molecular biology. I know, I know. I’ve said it before, but certain quacks have a way of willfully misunderstanding the latest advances in genomics, molecular biology, and biology in general. Of course, this isn’t limited to just medicine, unfortunately. After all, we have Deepak Chopra…

As you might be aware, I’m (almost) always willing to help a blogger out, particularly when that blogger is a regular commenter here who’s gotten down and dirty battling antivaccine pseudoscience in the trenches of the comments right here on this very blog. Regular readers might have noticed that I rarely comment much on my…

About a year ago, I addressed what might seem to the average reader to be a very simple, albeit clichéd question: If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we cure cancer? As I pointed out at the time, it’s a question that I sometimes even ask myself, particularly given that cancer…

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging, preventing the creation of fresh Insolence, at least Insolence of the quality that you’ve come to expect. This is one of those times, and it doesn’t help that it’s a holiday week plus a week I was traveling. So I dug way back into the archives, back…

Looking for Jesus in all the wrong places

I have a soft spot for pareidolia, as regular readers know. It amuses me to no end to see Jesus and Mary popping up on freeway underpasses, tacos, toast, pieces of sheet metal, Lava Lamps, and the like. I thought that I had seen it all–until now: His image has been seen on rocks, windows…

Having a reasonably popular blog is a cool thing because at times I can do things like what I’m about to do. I’d like to start the week off with a little bit of crowdsourcing. Earlier this week, a reader wrote to me at my not-so-super-secret other blog with a request that concluded: In short,…

Politics versus science

I’ve always been reluctant to attribute antiscientific attitudes to one political persuasion or another–and justly so, or so I thought. While it’s true that antiscience on the right is definitely more prominent these days, with the Republican candidates conducting virtual seminars on how to deny established science. Evolution? They don’t believe in it because, apparently,…

Back in September, I merrily applied a little not-so-Respectful Insolence to the service of deconstructing the overwhelmingly silly fear mongering by a group known as SANE Vax over the alleged discovery of HPV DNA in the HPV vaccine. SANE Vax, as you may recall, is a group founded by a woman named Norma Erickson dedicated…

A couple of weeks ago, I made the observation that there seems to have been a–shall we say?–realignment in one of the central arguments that proponents of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) make. Back in the day (say, a few years ago), such CAM practitioners and apologists used to try very,…

It’s rare that I have much in the way of reluctance to leap into writing about a topic. Any regular reader of this blog should know this to be true, given the topics I regularly take on and how often my writing draws flak my way from various proponents of quackery and pseudoscience, in particular…

It’s been nearly a year since I last discussed a most unusual malady. Part of the reason is that the opportunity to discuss it hasn’t occurred recently; usually I need some spark or incident to “inspire” me to write about something, and there just hasn’t been any Morgellons news that’s caught my eye since then.…

$#*! skeptics say

Ha! I must admit, I’ve said probably about 50% of these things at one time or another, maybe more: Hmmmm. Maybe I need to come up with new “shit.” Oh, and, by the way, I’ve been mentioned on PZ’s blog more times than I can remember over the last seven years. So there! (Oh, wait.…

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years looking at cranks, examining crank science (i.e., pseudoscience), and trying to figure out how to inoculate people against crankery. Because I’m a physician, I tend to do it mostly in the realm of medicine by critically examining “alternative” medical claims and discussing the scientific basis of…

It’s no secret that I’ve been highly critical of The Huffington Post, at least of its approach to science and medicine. In fact, it was a mere three weeks after Arianna Huffington launched her blog back in 2005 that I noticed something very distressing about it, namely that it had recruited someone who would later…

I’ve made no secret of my opinion of the animal rights movement, in particular Jerry Vlasak, a trauma surgeon who has openly advocated the murder of researchers who use animals while–wink, wink, nudge, nudge–denying that he’s advocating anything. Another animal rights activist who is equally despicable is Stephen Best, who is affiliated with the even…

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time (and, characteristically, verbiage) analyzing the phenomenon known as Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, his “cancer cure” known as antineoplastons, and his incompetent version of “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy.” In this third and final part, I want to come back to antineoplastons, because it has…

When it rains it pours, as they say. Yes, sometimes there’s so much going on that I can’t possibly blog about it all, particularly now that I’ve cut back a bit. This week seems to be turning into one of those weeks. Yesterday, I couldn’t resist having a bit of fun with the grande dame…

HIV/AIDS denialism versus science

As a skeptic and a blogger, my main interest has evolved to be the discussion of science-based medicine and how one can identify what in medicine is and is not based in science. Part of the reason for this is because of my general interest in skepticism dating back to my discovery that there actually…

Believe it or not, sometimes I rather miss Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. Although McCarthy is still nominally the head of the anti-vaccine group Generation Rescue, she’s really faded to a rather low profile over the last year or so. Indeed, the last time I even remember her spouting off about vaccines was way back…