Skepticism/critical thinking

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

Poor, poor, pitiful Dr. Bob. For those of you not familiar with him, I’m referring, of course, to Robert “Dr. Bob” Sears, MD, the antivaccine-sympathetic (or, more appropriately, antivaccine-pandering) pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, CA (between Los Angeles and San Diego in Orange County) known for his Vaccine Book, a veritable font of antivaccine misinformation gussied…

Brief Orac follow up note, January 21, 2014: Antivaccine pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears responds to his patients’ parents’ concerns about the Disneyland measles outbreak. Hilarity ensues. Last week, the self-proclaimed “happiest place on earth” wasn’t so happy. You’ve probably figured out that what I’m referring to is the latest measles outbreak. Some of you have…

So here it is, already a week into 2015. Truth be told, I’m still finding myself having a hard time believing that it’s already 2015, but then I say that about every year in early January. Be that as it may, I’ve already seen one hopeful sign that it could be a decent year when…

The holidays must truly be over. I say this because, starting around Sunday, the drumbeat of blogging topics that I haven’t covered but that apparently you, my readers, want me to cover has accelerated. However, before I can move on to what might or might not be greener blogging pastures, material-wise, I feel obligated to…

NOTE: There is a follow up to this post. The holidays are over. Time to start dishing out fresh Insolence, Respectful and, as appropriate, not-so-Respectful for 2015. I do, however, feel obligated to deal with one painfully inappropriate action by a major science journal left over from 2014. It happened in an issue that came…

Seven years ago I returned to Michigan, where I was born and spent the first quarter century of my life, after an absence of more than 20 years. In the interim, I had done my surgical residency and earned my PhD in Cleveland, a surgical oncology fellowship in Chicago, and worked in New Jersey at…

Ever since moving back to the Detroit area nearly seven years ago, one thing I’ve noticed is a propensity for our local news outlets to go full pseudoscience from time to time. I’m not sure why, other than perhaps that it attracts eyeballs to the screen, but, in reality, most of these plunges into pseudoscience…

After I woke up this morning, the haze induced by feasting and hanging out with family only slowly clearing, I debated about whether I wanted to post anything at all today. After all, in much of the English-speaking world, it’s still a holiday, Boxing Day. Although not an official holiday here in the US, when…

Merry Christmas from Deepak Chopra

As Orac takes a couple of days to commune with family (as amazing as it is, yes, a Plexiglass box of blinking colored lights has a family) and celebrate the season, here’s a lost Christmas gem from Deepak Chopra, who interprets Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately, embedding is disabled; so you’ll have to…

Congress polishes the turd that was NCCAM

With the way our dysfunctional federal government works, it’s not uncommon for the end of a fiscal year to come and go without there being a budget for the next fiscal year in place. This phenomenon is particularly common during election years, and this year was no different. September 30 came and went, followed by…

After yesterday’s post on the depressingly high (and increasing, apparently) rate of personal belief exemptions to vaccination requirements for entering school in the state of Michigan, I felt the need to pontificate a bit further. The reason is that MLive.com has posted some followup stories. Also, I didn’t have a lot of time last night…

Last week, I discussed a monograph published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs entitled Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Use of Integrative Therapies as Supportive Care in Patients Treated for Breast Cancer. As you might remember, I was completely unimpressed. However, those guidelines were not the only thing in that particular JNCI…

If there’s one thing about having a demanding day job, it’s that the cranks usually have the advantage. They can almost always hit first when a news story comes out that they can spin to attack their detested science. On the other hand, it usually ensures that by the time I get home, have dinner,…

Cancer cure testimonials due to alternative medicine have been a staple of this blog since its very inception. Unfortunately, another staple of this blog since very early on has included stories of children with cancer whose lives have been endangered when their their parents refuse effective cancer therapy for their cancer, in particular chemotherapy. The…

Every so often there’s an article that starts making the rounds on social media, in particular Facebook and Twitter, that cries out for a treatment by yours truly. Actually, there are more such articles that are constantly circulating on social media that I could work full time blogging and still not cover them all. So…

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m not exactly a fan of “integrative oncology”—or integrative medicine, or “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or whatever its proponents want to call it these days. After all, I’ve spent nearly ten years writing this blog and nearly seven years running another blog dedicated to…

I hope my U.S. readers have all had a happy Thanksgiving. Today has been known at least since the mid-1970s as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Whether it’s still true or not, given the relentless proliferation, progression, and metastasis—yes, the use of terms related to cancer is intentional—of holiday sales right…

I don’t think I mentioned this, but I’m on a bit of a staycation this week. I figured, what the heck? After coming home from Skepticon I could do with a little R&R. Of course, fool that I am, I still can’t resist blogging a bit. On the other hand, the day before Thanksgiving I…

I realize that I risk getting repetitive by writing about this again, but it’s a rich vein that just keeps on producing and producing. It also demonstrates that, for every tragedy as huge as the ongoing Ebola outbreak that has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa thus far, there always exist well-meaning people who…

I figured that yesterday’s post about the First Nations girl in Ontario with lymphoblastic leukemia whose parents stopped her chemotherapy in favor of “traditional” medicine would stir up a bit of controversy, and so it did, albeit much more at my not-so-super-secret other blog, which featured an expanded version of this post. Don’t worry, you…

It’s been a long and entertaining week. Well, at least part of the week was entertaining. After all, it was hard not to be mightily amused at what happened when Dr. Mehmet Oz, known to the world as America’s Doctor but to skeptics as America’s Quack, asked his Twitter followers to ask him anything under…

Of the many lies and myths about vaccines that stubbornly persist despite all evidence showing them not only to be untrue but to be risibly, pseudoscientifically untrue, among whose number are myths that vaccines cause autism, sudden infant death syndrome, and a syndrome that so resembles shaken baby syndrome (more correctly called abusive head trauma)…

Reiki propaganda in U.S. News & World Report

Sigh. Just a week ago, I deconstructed an awful article touting how the mass of prescientific quackery known as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as somehow being “validated” by modern science. Specifically, some truly misguided scientists were attempting to use modern systems biology techniques to look for biomarkers associated with TCM diagnoses such as “hot” or…

Medical conspiracy theories tend to involve “someone” hiding something from the public. I like to refer to this as the fallacy of “secret knowledge.” That “someone” hiding the “secret knowledge” is usually the government, big pharma, or other ill-defined nefarious forces. The “secret knowledge” being hidden comes invariably in one of two flavors. Either “they”…

“Autism-induced” breast cancer

Gayle DeLong has been diagnosed with what she refers to as “autism-induced” breast cancer.” She’s even given it an abbreviation, AIBC. Unfortunately, as you might be able to tell by the name she’s given her breast cancer, she is also showing signs of falling into the same errors in thinking with respect to her breast…