Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

Eight months ago, I asked the question: Did chiropractic manipulation of her neck cause Katie May’s stroke? Now, it appears, I know the answer, and the answer is yes: Katie May, a model who posed for Playboy and gained a massive following on Snapchat, suffered a “catastrophic” stroke in early February and later died after…

It’s been a while since I wrote about Stanislaw Burzynski, the Polish ex-pat physician who is not an oncologist but treats cancer patients in his Houston clinic with a mixture of a compound he calls “antineoplastons” (ANPs) and “gene-targeted” therapy. The former are really a mixture of various chemicals he isolated from the blood and…

Back when advocates of “alternative” medicine were busily trying to legitimize their quackery by first renaming it “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), long before CAM “evolved” into “integrative medicine,” they really believed that if their favorite woo were to be studied scientifically it would be shown to be efficacious. Thus was born the Office of…

I noticed the other day that I haven’t been visiting the merry band of antivaccine activists and bloggers over at their very own wretched hive of scum and quackery, Age of Autism, nearly as much as I used to. I have mentioned them in passing a couple of times recently, but nothing caught my attention…

I knew it. I just knew it. I knew I couldn’t get through October, a.k.a. Breast Cancer Awareness Month, without a controversial mammography study to sink my teeth into. And I didn’t. I suppose I should just be used to this now. I’m referring to the latest opus from H. Gilbert Welch and colleagues that…

There’s a misconception that I frequently hear about evidence-based medicine (EBM), which can equally apply to science-based medicine (SBM). Actually, there are several, but they are related. These misconceptions include the idea that EBM/SBM guidelines are a straightjacket, that they are “cookbook medicine,” and that EBM/SBM should be the be-all and end-all of how to…

A frequent topic of discussion on this blog is the concept of overdiagnosis. It’s a topic I’ve been writing about regularly since around 2007 or so and is defined as the detection in an asymptomatic person of disease that, if left alone, would never progress to endanger that person’s life or well-being within his or…

Whenever I refer to quackademic medicine and how the infiltration of quackery into medical academia has led to unethical clinical that are not only pseudoscientific wastes of money but potentially downright harmful to patients, two always come to mind. The first is the trial that tested the late Nicholas Gonzalez’s protocol for advanced pancreatic cancer,…

I first became more interested in dubious stem cell clinics nearly two years ago, when I learned that hockey legend Gordie Howe was undergoing stem cell therapy in Mexico to treat his stroke. Being from Detroit, I imbibed the hockey madness of this town growing up, and know that Detroiters hold Gordie Howe in incredibly…

I’ve referred to so-called “right to try” laws as a cruel sham.on more than one occasion. Since 2014, these laws, all based on a template provided by the libertarian Goldwater Institute, have been proliferating at the state level with the help of lobbying by the aforementioned Goldwater Institute and a concept that makes it pitifully…

One of the things that first led me to understand the dangers of quackademic medicine was a trial known as the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, or TACT. Chelation therapy, as you might recall, is the infusion of a chelating agent, or a chemical that binds heavy metals and makes it easier for the kidney…

I’m sure that most of you watched the Presidential debate on Monday night, just as I did. Over the years, these debates have always always painful for me to watch, given the candidates’ tendency to answer the question they want to answer rather than the question actually answered; to find ways to spew prepackaged talking…

It’s been nearly three weeks since we learned that the Medical Board of California had initiated disciplinary proceedings against the most famous antivaccine physician not named Andrew Wakefield. I’m referring, of course, to “Dr. Bob” Sears, author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child and creator of an “alternate” vaccine schedule…

If there’s one thing that irritates me more than government agencies making bold proclamations about making progress in cancer but not providing sufficient funding to have even a shot of realizing such ambitions (I’m talking to you, Cancer Moonshot), it’s people in other disciplines that are not cancer biology making bold proclamations about how they’re…

One of the most pernicious changes in medicine that’s occurred over the last 25 years or so is the infiltration of what I like to refer to as “quackademic medicine.” It’s a term that was, as far as I know, coined by Dr. Robert W. Donnell in 2009 to describe the infiltration of pseudoscience and…

When I first heard that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, was scheduled to appear on The Dr. Oz Show, my first thought was, basically, “Of course he is. What took him so long?” After all, it’s a crank pairing made in heaven. Given that, I considered it my skeptical blogging duty at least…

As regular readers know, last Friday I was quite happy to relay the news that the Medical Board of California had finally acted against a rock star among the antivaccine movement, namely pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears. Dr. Sears (or Dr. Bob, as he likes to be called) rocketed to prominence among the vaccine-averse and downright…

Remember Vox Day? Vox Day is the pseudonym used by a truly vile man named Theodore Beale. I first encountered him 11 years ago on the precursor to this blog, thanks to his antivaccine stylings and outright misogyny. Later, I learned the depths of his wingnuttery, such as his accepting pseudoscientific claims that vaccines cause…

Believe it or not (and you probably won’t believe it), but I never intended to post today, as it’s a holiday, and I had to write my usual level post for my not-so-super-secret other blog. But then one of you had to send me this: I couldn’t resist at least a quick comment on this.

Last night was one of those nights where I was working late because I was asked to do a panel discussion on breast cancer last night. Such are the perils of being a breast cancer expert, I guess. That doesn’t mean I don’t have time for an uncharacteristically brief notice of some particularly dumb bit…

One of the great things about having achieved some notoriety as a blogger is that readers send me links to articles that the believe will be interesting to me. They usually come in waves. For instance, after anything having to do with Stanislaw Burzynski, “right to try,” particularly egregious antivaccine idiocy, and the like hits…

About three months ago, I was displeased to see in a normally reliable source of medical news (STAT News) a story about a patient of cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski, Neil Fachon, that fell victim to every trope that Burzynski’s used for 40 years to present himself to the press as a “brave maverick” doctor and…

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…