Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

TruthKings: Not so truthful about vaccines

When I wrote about a systematic review of the medical literature regarding measles and pertussis outbreaks that demonstrated quite convincingly that, for these two diseases at least, the nonmedical exemptions and vaccine refusal endanger everyone, not just the unvaccinated, I was rather disappointed. I was rather disappointed because, although the article had been in press…

I write about homeopathy fairly regularly on this blog because there is no quackery that is (1) so obviously quackery and (2) such a perfect topic to use to illustrate a lot of issues relevant to medical science, such as issues in clinical trials resulting in false positives and, of course, placebo effects. Basically, homeopathy…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about a story of a sort that I’ve had to write about far too many times over the last eleven years. I wrote about the death of a child—but not just any death of a child, the death of a child who could have—should have—lived. The child’s name…

I write about vaccines a lot here at Respectful Insolence, and for a very good reason. Of all the medical interventions devised by the brains of humans, arguably vaccines have saved more lives and prevented more disability than any other medical treatment. When it comes to infectious disease, vaccination is the ultimate in preventive medicine,…

Acupuncture is quackery. As with naturopathy (a medical pseudo-“specialty” that embraces acupuncture and other so-called traditional Chinese medicine), when I write about acupuncture I like to start out with a provocative statement, a statement of—dare I say it?—judgment in order to shock new readers and let them know exactly where I’m coming from. Why I…

Well, I’m here. Yes, last night I arrived in Boston for the Society of Surgical Oncology meeting down at the convention center. For any skeptics who might be so inclined the Boston Skeptics are planning a meetup on Saturday, details firming up. No talk this time, but at least we can hang out for a…

It’s no secret that my odds of ever landing a job at the Cleveland Clinic are probably slim and none, at least if anyone there ever Googles my name, particularly if they Google it with the words “Cleveland Clinic” added. The reason, of course, is that I’ve been very critical of the Cleveland Clinic’s wholesale…

Here we go again. When you’ve been blogging for over 11 years, particularly when what you blog about is skepticism and science-based medicine, with a special emphasis on taking down quackery (particularly cancer and antivaccine quackery), inevitably you see the same misinformation and lies pop up from time to time. Indeed, those of us in…

When last I visited this topic, I was highly tempted to start out out by making a simple observation, namely by quoting John Wooden’s famous adage, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Since I didn’t use it for the two posts I did on this…

I’ve written several times over the years about the overblown claims of harm attributed, largely—but not exclusively—by cranks, to cell phone radiation. It’s been claimed that radiation from cell phones can cause brain tumors (there’s no convincing evidence that this is true), breast cancer (the evidence for these claims is so incredibly flimsy—and featured by…

One of the most frequent claims of supporters of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), which goes by the Orwellian name “integrative medicine,” is that it represents “integrating” alternative medicine with science-based medicine to produce the “best of both worlds.” Of course, when I think of the best of both worlds, I usually think of…

My state is screwed up, and the epicenter of the fallout from the dysfunctional mess that is the Michigan state government is the city of Flint. As you probably recall, around the holidays a story that had previously been mainly a Michigan story broke nationally in a big way. It is the story of how…

It really sucks when a celebrity you like and admire screws up. Before social media, you might never have known whether stars were prone to bouts of excessive credulity when it comes to medicine, conspiracy theories, the paranormal, or whatever. Twenty years ago, for instance, few might ever have known that Jenny McCarthy was into…

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,…