Skepticism/critical thinking

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

Of all the cranks, quacks, antivaccinationists, and pseudoscientists that I’ve encountered (and applied a bit of not-so-Respectful Insolence to) over the years, there are a few who belong in the top tier—or, if you prefer, the bottom tier. They stick out in my memory for a variety of reasons, either through their sheer crankitude on…

As I just mentioned a week ago, there used to be a time when I dreaded Autism Awareness Month, which begins tomorrow. The reason was simple. Several years ago to perhaps as recently as three years ago, I could always count on a flurry of stories about autism towards the end of March and the…

Note: I was busy doing something last night that left me no time to compose any fresh Insolence, which will become apparent by this weekend. In the meantime, however, I’m betting quite a few of you haven’t seen this before, and those who have might want to discuss it further in a different environment. Quackademic…

I’m sure that a lot of you, like me, are watching the rebooted version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, with Neil deGrasse Tyson taking over the hosting duties originally handled so ably over 30 years ago by Carl Sagan. I definitely enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to additional episodes. The only thing…

I’ve written about conflicts of interest (COIs) a lot over the years. COIs are important in medicine and science because, as much as physicians and scientists like to think that they are immune to such things, we are as human as anyone else. We are just as prone to unconsciously (or consciously) being influenced by…

I’m home. Oh, wait. No. Well, I’m back. Yes, the grant has been submitted, and I’m ready to get back to my hobby of science, skepticism, and, when necessary, laying down some Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful. And, it figures, too. While I was distracted with meatspace concerns, such as trying to keep my lab…

Back in December, I was excited. The reason I was excited was because everybody’s favorite über-Libertarian, New World Order conspiracy theorist quack, Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger, had made an announcement. That announcement was that on January 6, 2014 Adams would announce astonishing “scientific findings” about food that would “revolutionize” nutrition and health. Given…

There are certain things that can happen that are the equivalent of the Bat Signal to me; that is, if you can swallow the idea of me being in any way like Bruce Wayne. Call them the Cancer Signal, if you will. When I see the Cancer Signal, I know that I have to head…

Contrary to what you might think, the longer I do this blogging thing, it doesn’t necessarily get easier. The reason, of course, is that after more than nine years of near daily posts there are days when it’s really hard to come up with something that really gets me fired up to do the hard…

I had originally planned on writing about a different topic today, but, as is so often the case in blogging, something came up that caught my attention, much as the errant thought of a squirrel distracts Dug the Dog. Well, actually, I had to go to an evening meeting for work last night and by…

As I’ve discussed from time to time, the three most reviled vaccines among the antivaccine movement are the HPV vaccine (Gardasil and Cervarix), the hepatitis B vaccine, and the influenza vaccine. The first two tend to be demonized because of moralistic associations with sexual activity, given that HPV is most commonly spread by sexual activity…

After a digression yesterday, it’s time to get back to business. Don’t get me wrong. Yesterday’s post was business. It was definitely something important (to me) that needed to be said, in my not-so-humble pseudonymous opinion. It just wasn’t the usual business I engage in on this blog. I’ve often referred to what I (and…

And now for something completely different. There was a time when, as a blogger, I would have been instantly aware of an incident like the one I’m about to discuss, instantly aware of it and all over it within a day. That it’s been a few days since this happened, and I remained blissfully unaware…

Here we go again. In the wake of study after study that fails to find activity of various “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) beyond that of placebo, the campaign to a “rebrand” CAM as “working” through the “power of placebo” continues apace, in the wake of the successful campaign to “rebrand” various needle-based medical modalities…

Well, that didn’t take long. I knew it had been too quiet on the Burzynski front. In retrospect, that was almost certainly because of the holidays, but the holidays are over, and real life is here again. Yes, the year 2014 is only a little more than a week old, and here comes Stanislaw Burzynski…

Life is a fatal disease

Believe it or not, even your ever-lovin’ box of colored blinking lights can malfunction, and it happened to me over the weekend. Actually, sometime around New Years, I caught some sort of crud, and have been battling it since. There’s nothing like hacking up a lung and not being able to sleep well for days…

NOTE: Because I’ve been (kind of) relaxing over this holiday period, this is not an entirely new post. It is, however, a significantly expanded and reworked version of a post from nearly four years ago. So if you haven’t been reading four years, it’s new to you, and if you have you might or might…

It’s Christmas Eve, and the blogging is light. I was going to have some fun with a truly ridiculous—is there ever any other kind?—segment on Dr. Oz’s show in which he actually combined a quack and a psychic with some EEGs to become a “100% believer” in psychic scammer “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo. However,…

Sarah Hershberger comes home to die

It was a couple of weeks ago that I last provided an update on the case of Sarah Hershberger, the 11-year-old Amish girl from Medina County, Ohio with lymphoblastic lymphoma whose parents decided to stop her chemotherapy because of how sick it was making her. As I explained early on and on multiple occasions afterward,…

One of the frequent topics on this blog is, unsurprisingly, cancer quackery. Be it the Gerson therapy and its propensity for encouraging patients to take hundreds of supplements and to shoot copious amounts of coffee where it really doesn’t belong (where the sun don’t shine), the Gonzalez protocol, homeopathy, naturopathy, or various other nonsensical and…

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Mike Adams thinks he’s an actual scientist! Regular readers are all too familiar with Mike Adams, a.k.a. The Health Ranger, arguably the most quacktastic site on the Internet. Sure, Joe Mercola is probably the most trafficked quackery site on the Internet, but, being number two (or number three or four,…

A man on TV is selling me a miracle cure that will keep me young forever. It’s called Androgel…for treating something called Low T, a pharmaceutical company–recognized condition affecting millions of men with low testosterone, previously known as getting older. —The Colbert Report, December 2012 And now for something completely different…sort of. Thanksgiving is tomorrow,…

Deepak Chopra continues his woo-ful whining

Last week, everyone’s favorite woo-meister, the man whose woo is so strong that I even coined a term for it way back in the early mists of time (at least as far as this blog is concerned), was woo-fully whining about all those allegedly nasty skeptics on Wikipedia. Yes, Deepak Chopra was clutching his pearls…

About a year ago, I became aware of the latest celebrity antivaccinationist with a penchant for saying truly stupid things and thus making an even bigger fool of himself than he usually does. I’m referring to Rob “makin’ copies” Schneider, who most recently has been making waves for narrating a misinformation-packed “viral” video about the…

Sarah Hershberger and Zija MLM

Like many cases of children with cancer whose parents tried to deny them curative therapy in the past that I’ve written about, I’ve become intensely interested in the case of 10-year-old Amish girl with lymphoblastic lymphoma. Her name is Sarah Hershberg, and, in a rare instance of the state actually stepping in to protect the…