Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

I’ve mentioned on quite a few occasions that there’s a quote attributed to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that is much beloved of cranks: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. I also like to point out that Schopenhauer probably never said…

There’s an old saying that basically asks the question, “With friends like these, who needs enemies? or, as Voltaire (or Marshal Villars, depending on the account) said, “May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.” The point, of course, is that friends or allies can sometimes be as infuriating…

Hard as it is to believe, it’s been seven months since the Conspira-Sea Cruise, or, as I called it when I discovered it before it set sail, The Woo Boat. After it set sail and I started reading reports about it from two reporters who took the cruise in order to report on it, Anna…

I’ve frequently written about various dubious and outright quack clinics in different parts of the word with—shall we say?—somewhat less rigorous laws and regulations than the US. Most commonly, given the proximity to the US, the clinics that have drawn my attention are located in Mexico, most commonly right across the border from San Diego…

I’ve been debating whether to write about this for a while now, given that the first article that I noticed about it was first published a week and a half ago. Part of the reason for my reluctance is that it would be too easy for politics to be dragged into this more than I…

In which Orac struts his stuff elsewhere…

Believe it or not, I’ve had two weekends off, which is why there won’t be a full post today. Basically, what happened is that I’m an idiot. I took a long weekend last weekend, worked a couple of days last week, and then took a three day weekend at a cottage near a lake this…

As hard as it might be to believe, almost as long as there have been vaccinations, there has been an antivaccine movement, and as long as there has been an antivaccine movement, there have been parents who refuse to vaccinate. Indeed, in the 1800s, there were even groups with names like the Anti-Vaccination Society of…

It is an article of faith among believers in alternative cancer cures that conventional oncology consists mainly of a bunch of money-hungry surgeons and oncologists who want nothing more than to cut, poison, and burn patients with cancer and charge them enormous sums of money to do so for as long as they can until…

Emergency acupuncture!

Many are the bizarre, dubious, and downright crappy acupuncture studies that I’ve deconstructed over the years. Just type “acupuncture” into the search box of this blog, and you’ll soon see. (If that pulls up too many results, try typing “acupuncture” and “study” or “acupuncture” and “clinical trial” in the search box.) I’m not the only…

Many are the times that I’ve discussed the issue of quack doctors. I’m not just referring to naturopaths, whose abbreviation ND stands to me for “not a doctor.” In fact, I’m referring to actual, real physicians, doctors with an “MD” or “DO” after their names, doctors who have graduated from reputable medical schools, completed residencies…

I’ve frequently said that a tendency towards pseudoscience knows no political boundary. For example, antivaccine views, contrary to common belief, are not detectably more prevalent on the left than on the right, as I’ve discussed on more than one occasion. It’s just that for so many years, antivaccine beliefs were associated in the media with…

Well, I’ve finally seen it. The things I do for my readers, the pain to which I subject myself by watching neuron-apotosing levels of pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies as antivaccine propaganda, in order to deconstruct them for your amusement and, I hope, education! Yes, I’ve finally seen Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree’s “documentary” VAXXED: From…

Another cancer quack dies…of cancer.

As a cancer surgeon and physician, I can’t stand Ty Bollinger. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to absolutely none of my regular readers, given what a massive cancer quack he is. Most recently, he has become known for a series of deeply dishonest videos about cancer, chemotherapy, and alternative treatments for cancer called…

One of the most insidious and oft-repeated myths of the antivaccine movement is that vaccines cause autism. Certainly, it is true that there was an antivaccine movement long before anyone thought of linking vaccines to autism. For example, in the the 1980s the DPT (diptheria-whole cell pertussis-tetanus) vaccine was linked to encephalitis and neurological damage,…

Welcome once again to Sh*t Naturopaths Say, my periodic look at what naturopaths say behind closed doors (metaphorically speaking). At least, it’s a look at what they say when they are discussing patient management with their peers. It is a series to which I can add new entires from time to time, thanks to Naturopathic…

If you grew up, as I did, a child of the 1970s in the US (I graduated from high school in 1980), you probably couldn’t escape the influence of Kris Kristofferson. He was big, and he was at his biggest during the 1970s, pumping out country music and mainstream hits, appearing in movies, and generally…

There are reasons that I’m not a pediatrician. First, and foremost, I like surgery. Indeed, when I first entered medical school, my intent was to become an academic internist, but things didn’t quite work out that way. To my surprise, when I did my surgery rotation I liked it way more than I ever thought…

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…