Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

Ever since the beginning of this blog, there’s one topic I’ve explored many, many times, mainly because of its direct relationship to my profession as a cancer surgeon. That topic is, of course, the question of why people fall for alternative medicine cancer “cures.” It started with one of my very earliest posts and continued…

Last week, I wrote about how conspiracy theories have been flowing fast and furious about the Zika virus and microcephaly. Even if you didn’t see that post (perhaps instead having seen this one), you’ve probably seen the news reports describing how last fall the observation of a large number of cases of microcephaly, characterized by…

Politicians and activists know that one of the most effective ways to discredit critics is to try to portray them as (1) being in the pay of someone else, such as a big corporation, or (2) part of an “organized” effort to criticize them, or (3) preferably both. That’s why antivaccine cranks are so fast…

Michigan is a frustrating state to live in these days. Our state government has just shown itself to be epically incompetent in its handling of the Flint water crisis, which I’ve written about a couple of times before. Our legislature repealed our mandatory motorcycle helmet law, and as a result in this state motorcycles are…

It’s been nearly three weeks since I wrote about how an imperative to save money at all costs combined with gross incompetence to poison Flint’s children with lead. In (very) brief, the city of Flint decided to switch from buying water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to a new water source. Unfortunately,…

Ben Swann, anchor of the evening news for the local Atlanta CBS affiliate and the face of his Truth In Media series of videos, thinks himself an investigative journalist and a truth teller, but much of what I see him reporting more closely resembles reporting as though done by a cross between Ted Baxter, Ron…

I know I really shouldn’t peruse NaturalNews.com too often. It’s bad for my blood pressure, and, like many old farts on the wrong side of 50, I do have a touch of the ol’ hypertension. Reading Mike Adams’ blather risks raising that blood pressure either through causing me to laugh uproariously at the sheer idiocy…

It’s a seldom mentioned aspect of my professional history that I used to do a lot of trauma surgery in my youth. I did my residency at a program that included a county hospital with a busy trauma program where I saw quite a bit of vehicular carnage and an urban hospital (which has since…

The rise of a new grief vampire

I don’t write about psychics that often. Most commonly, when I do, it’s about psychics making claims that could be construed as medical claims, such as when America’s Quack, Dr. Mehmet Oz brought psychic scammers like John Edward and the “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo, even going so far as to imply that psychics can…

I like to say that homeopathy is The One Quackery To Rule Them All (although of late I’ve debated whether homeopathy or reiki is the most properly referred to as that). It’s a strange beast, homeopathy. Its two main “Laws” are so clearly pseudoscience that you’d think that no one could ever fall for something…

One of the cool things about being a longtime blogger in the skeptical world with a reasonably high profile is that I’ve met, either virtually or in person at various skeptic conferences, a wide variety of people from all over the world. One place in particular that has a vibrant skeptic movement is, of course,…

I’ve been a big fan of David Bowie ever since high school. True, I didn’t appreciate his less mainstream stuff as intensely as I do now until I had been in college a couple of years, but it’s not an inaccurate to characterize the effect of David Bowie’s art on my life as significant. Basically,…

One of the recurring topics I write about is, of course, cancer quackery. It goes right back to the very beginning of this blog, to my very earliest posts more than 11 years ago. Over the years I’ve covered more cases than I can remember of patients relying on quackery instead of real medicine. In…

I feel as though I’m experiencing an acid flashback to 2011, and I’ve never in my entire life once tried acid—or any mind-altering substance other than booze. What am I talking about? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, if you will, back to those halcyon days of—oh—five years ago. That was the time when…

I remember my PhD thesis. In particular, I remember the years of work that went into it. I remember being grilled (with good, constructive intent) by my thesis committee a couple of times a year as I worked on it. I remember the many, many hours spend writing it. And, above all, I remember the…

Breast cancer and delays in surgery

Every so often there are studies that I really mean to write about but, for whatever reason, don’t manage to get to. Sometimes I get a chance to get back to them. Sometimes I don’t. This time around I’m getting back to such a topic. This time around it’s a topic I’ve been meaning to…

This post will be different than my usual post. Let’s just say that it has to do with quackery of a different kind than I usually write about here. It’s about a public health disaster that was entirely preventable and had nothing to do with vaccines. It has to do with government malpractice on an…

It’s an understatement to say that I’m not exactly a fan of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the institute formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and, even a year after its name change, probably still better known by its old moniker. Just type “NCCAM” or…

Yesterday was kind of busy and a long day in the operating room rather drained me. So I only had time for a quick followup to yesterday’s post on how Matt Carey obtained the entire document dump that the “CDC whistleblower” William W. Thompson gave to Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who then gave it to…

One of the stories dominating my blogging in 2015 was a manufactroversy that started in August 2014 when, after several months of rumbling in the antivaccine crankosphere that there was a CDC scientist ready to blow the whistle on an alleged coverup of evidence that vaccines cause autism, Andrew Wakefield, ever the publicity hog, released…

It always irritates me when I discover a new antivaccine crank in my state; so you can imagine how irritated I become when I discover one right in my very city (OK, metropolitan area). When that happens, it becomes a bit more personal than my usual mission to refute antivaccine misinformation. So I was most…

As 2015 draws to a close today, all I can think is: Another year in the can. Since my family is here, and it’s a holiday, I’m going to keep this one brief and wish everyone a Happy New Year. In addition, I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen in 2016. Who could…

Fixing peer review

I’ve frequently noted that one of the things most detested by quacks and promoters of pseudoscience is peer review. Creationists hate peer review. HIV/AIDS denialists hate it. Anti-vaccine cranks like those at Age of Autism hate it. Indeed, as blog bud Mark Hoofnagle Mark Hoofnagle, pointed out several years ago, pseudoscientists and cranks of all…

Christmas and New Years are almost here. As a result, as is always the case this time of year, we’re being flooded with “year end” lists. These lists are a fun distraction that I actually rather look forward to as an amusing (and sometimes annoying) year end tradition. In particular, I’m a sucker for “best…

[NOTE added 12/23/2015: It would appear that the offending article has been taken down. I, of course, have screenshots, and, of course, the Google cached version is still around for the moment.] Anaphylaxis can be deadly. Anaphylaxis can kill. More than that, anaphylaxis can kill pretty quickly. Even the most dimwitted purveyor of “natural” cures…