Science

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Science

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…

Ever since starting my blog nearly seven (!) years ago, I’ve concentrated mainly on skepticism in medicine, in particular examining various implausible medical claims that proliferate on the Internet and in our media like so much kudzu choking out science and reason. The reasons are two-fold. First, it’s what I’m interested in. Second, it was…

I’ve gotten into quite a few arguments over whether there is more anti-science nonsense on the right or the left lately. Actually, none of these arguments have been on the blog, mainly because I tend not to relish getting into discussions that are far more weighted towards politics than actual science or medicine. Still, sometimes…

The complexity of cancer

About a week ago, there appeared a story in the New York Times about recent discoveries in cancer research written by George Johnson and entitled Cancer’s Secrets Come Into Sharper Focus. Overall, it was a better-than-average article for the lay press about recent discoveries in cancer research that go beyond just the cancer cell and…

A week ago, I took someone who has normally been a hero of mine, Brian Deer, to task for what I considered to be a seriously cheap shot at scientists based on no hard data, at least no hard data that he bothered to present. To make a long, Orac-ian magnum opus short, Deer advocated…

On the evolution of quackery

Once upon a time, there was quackery. It was the term used to refer to medical practices that were not supported by evidence and were ineffective and potentially harmful. Physicians understood that modalities such as homeopathy, reflexology, and various “energy healing” (i.e., faith healing) methodologies were based either on prescientific vitalism, magical thinking, and/or on…

Dangerous placebo medicine for asthma

Note: I just got back from TAM; so if you happened to see a different version of this post somewhere else, now you know why. Last week while I was at TAM, a study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It is another beautiful example of how proponents of complementary and alternative…

Like P.Z., I’ve been busy, busy, busy. TAM is a whirlwind of activity. Yesterday morning, I did my talk for the Science-Based Medicine workshop. Turnout was damned near standing room only, which makes me ask: Why would so many people be interested in hearing five somewhat geeky doctors pontificate about recurring themes in alternative medicine?…

Darn it all! I knew they’d find us out. I just knew it: Actually, I’m happy. Our diversion has worked. While the conspiracy loons will be protesting the lesser of two meetings, the real work in crushing conspiracies and ensuring our world domination will be some 600 miles away in Las Vegas at The Amaz!ng…

I saw this story on Friday and almost couldn’t wait the weekend to blog about it. However, since the conference that was brought to my attention isn’t until November, I ultimately decided that it would keep. At least until now. This story is about Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. Unlike…

It’s grant crunch time, as the submission deadline for revised R01s is July 5. However, in a classic example of how electronic filing has actually made things more difficult, the grant has to be done and at the university grant office a week before the deadline if it is to be uploaded in time. So,…

It’s grant crunch time, as the submission deadline for revised R01s is July 5. However, in a classic example of how electronic filing has actually made things more difficult, the grant has to be done and at the university grant office a week before the deadline if it is to be uploaded in time. So,…

Remember Michael Egnor? I bet many of you do. If you were reading this blog three or four years ago, Dr. Egnor was a fairly regular target topic of my excretions of not-so-Respectful Insolence. The reason for that was, at the time, I was quite annoyed that a fellow surgeon could so regularly lay down…

Remember Deepak Chopra? He’s the physician (yes, physician) whose grasp on real science is so tenuous and whose ability to abuse multiple scientific disciplines, ranging from quantum physics to astronomy to genetics to medicine, simultaneously in the service of woo is so amazing that a few years ago I once coined a term representing the…