Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

I’ve been writing about this topic so long—ever since the very beginning of this blog—that it seems as though I’ve always been doing it even though this blog has been in existence only 11 years and I didn’t really come to appreciate the problem until after I had started this blog. No, I’m not referring…

One of the most frequent complaints about evidence-based medicine (EBM), in contrast to science-based medicine (SBM), is its elevation of the randomized clinical trial as the be-all and end-all for clinical evidence for an intervention for a particular disease or condition. Unknown but enormous quantities of “digital ink” have been spilled explaining this distinction right…

A week ago, I wrote about an example of one of the most common topics on this blog, the infiltration of pseudoscientific medicine and outright fantasy into academic medicine, a trend I like to refer to as quackademic medicine. The institution was George Washington University, and the dubious intervention was something called the MEND™ Protocol,…

Yesterday, I took note of a meeting of advocates and lawyers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which makes him a very powerful Congressman. The group that met with him included Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propagandafest of a “documentary” VAXXED:…

One of the most frequent complaints leveled at pro-science advocates who defend vaccines against antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience is that we’re way too fast to label them as “antivaccine,” that we use the term as a convenient label to demonize their views. We’re not really antivaccine, they tell us. We’re vaccine safety advocates. Really. Now,…

A recurring theme of this blog is to shine a light on what I like to call “quackademic medicine.” I didn’t invent the term, but I’ve made it mine. Basically, quackademic medicine is a term that very aptly describes what’s going on in far too many academic medical centers these days, which is the infiltration…

I sensed a disturbance in the antivaccine (i.e, the dark) side of the Force yesterday. No matter where I wandered online and on social media, I kept running into a new article, an article by Neil Z. Miller about vaccines. For example, the merry band of antivaccine propagandists over at Age of Autism seem to…

Last week, I noted with great approval how a 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo made a pro-vaccine video that was short, simple, and effective. Even better, it was as Insolent as anything Orac could expect to manage, making it that much more delicious. Indeed, I can’t resist including it again for those of you who…

Most scientists I know get a chuckle out of the Journal of Irreproducible Results (JIR), a humor journal that often parodies scientific papers. Back in the day, we used to chuckle at articles like “Any Eye for an Eye for an Arm and a Leg: Applied Dysfunctional Measurement” and “A Double Blind Efficacy Trial of…

A couple of days ago, I told the tale of a really bright and justifiably snarky 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo, who posted a video of himself on Facebook with the caption “Vaccines DO cause autism”: I know I posted that video just two days ago, but it’s so epic that I can’t resist posting…

Those of us living in Michigan who support science-based medicine have been forced to deal with a bill that, if passed, would grant practitioners of unscientific “medicine” a wide scope of practice—almost as wide as that of primary care practitioners such as pediatricians, internists, and family practice doctors. I’m referring to HB 4531, a bill…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the antivaccine movement, it’s that its members dislike being criticized. Oh, hell, let’s be honest. The really, really hate criticism and react very, very badly to it. Whereas you or I or other skeptics might react to criticism by trying to address it using facts, science, and reason,…

One major thing that differentiated science-based medicine (SBM) from alternative medicine and quackery is that in SBM there is a generally accepted standard of care. This was even the case back in the days before the proliferation of evidence-based guidelines, in which professional societies and expert panels try their best to synthesize what is often…

After over 11 years at this blogging thing, I periodically start to fear that I’m becoming jaded. In particular, after following the infiltration of quackery in the form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more commonly known as “integrative medicine,” because it integrates CAM with evidence-based medicine. Of course, in reality, what “integrative medicine”…

One common theme that has been revisited time and time again on this blog since its very founding is the problem of how science and medicine are reported. For example, back when I first started blogging, one thing that used to drive me absolutely bonkers was the tendency of the press to include in any…

With a bill to license naturopaths (HB 4531) wending its way through the Michigan legislature supported by supplement manufacturers, its current status being in consideration by the full House of Representatives, periodically I feel the need to provide ammunition to the bill’s opponents, because we need to protect the patients in the state of Michigan…

Andrew Wakefield, his claims to the contrary, is antivaccine to the core. To be honest, I’m not sure if he was always antivaccine. After all, around 20 years ago when he was doing his “research” into whether the MMR vaccine causes autism, he was being generously funded by a barrister seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers…

“Complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more frequently referred to as “integrative medicine” by its proponents, consists of a hodge-podge of largely unrelated treatments that range from seemingly reasonable (e.g., diet and exercise) to pure quackery (e.g., acupuncture, reiki and other “energy medicine”) that CAM proponents are trying furiously to “integrate” as coequals into science-based…

To say that I, as a cancer surgeon, am not a fan of Ty Bollinger is a massive understatement. He’s not exactly one of my fans, either, but I view the hatred of a man like Bollinger directed at me as a badge of honor. Indeed, if a man like Bollinger didn’t detest me, I…

Gluten-free ≠ healthier

One of the more annoying health crazes going around right now is the gluten-free diet. While it’s a boon to the very small proportion of the population who have real celiac disease and thus truly cannot tolerate gluten, at the same time gluten has become the health demon that is touted as the cause of…

Sigh. Here we go again. Robert De Niro is letting his antivaccine freak flag fly again, this time even higher than usual, by revealing that in the wake of the antivaccine debacle at his Tribeca Film Festival he is going to make his very own documentary about vaccines. It’s the continuation of a process that,…

Over the years, I’ve taken care of women with locally advanced breast cancer so advanced that it’s eroded through the skin, forming huge, nasty ulcers filled with stinky dead cancer tissue that’s outgrown its blood supply, leaving the patient in chronic pain. If the patient is fortunate, her cancer has not metastasized beyond her axillary…

After yesterday’s epic mid-week rant about a man who thinks he knows what skepticism is but clearly doesn’t, it’s time to get back to business. The best way to do that is to go back to an article that came out the other day and that I had meant to blog about but temporarily shelved…

Contrary to what some of my detractors think, I don’t mind criticism of my viewpoints. After all, if I never encounter criticism, how will I ever improve? On the other hand, there are forms of criticism that are what I would call less than constructive. One form this sort of criticism takes is obsessive repetition…

It is an unquestioned belief among believers in alternative medicine and even just among many people who do not trust conventional medicine that conventional medicine kills. Not only does exaggerating the number of people who die due to medical complications or errors fit in with the world view of people like Mike Adams and Joe…