Skepticism/critical thinking

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

Deepak Chopra isn’t very happy right now. In fact, he appears downright pissed off right now, particularly at skeptics, so much so that he’s issued a hilariously fatuous “challenge” to James Randi (a.k.a.) The Amazing Randi on You Tube entitled Deepak Chopra’s One Million Dollar Challenge to Skeptics: Yes, apparently with The Amazing Meeting (a.k.a.…

It’s always jarring when I go to a scientific meeting, in this case the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, imbibe the latest clinical science on cancer, and then check back to see what the quacks are doing. On the other hand, there was a session at this year’s ASCO on “integrative oncology” (stay…

Being a cancer surgeon, I realize that my tendency is to view my blogging material through the prism of cancer, particularly breast cancer, my specialty. it’s easy to forget that there are diseases every bit as horrible, some arguably even more so than the worst cancer. When I think of such diseases, it’s not surprising…

Well, it snuck up on me again, the way it has a tendency to do every year. Maybe it’s because Memorial Day is so early this year. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much work to do this week given the multiple grant deadlines. Whatever the case, it just dawned on my last night that…

Alternative medicine as religion, again

Over the years, I’ve often likened alternative medicine to a religion—or even a cult. Basically, it requires belief in a set of precepts that have at best little and more commonly no evidence to support them that is often accompanied by magical thinking that a god-substitute, be it nature, one’s body, or, of course, the…

Besides yesterday being Mothers’ Day yesterday, I had a lot of grant stuff to do, which means that this one will be a quickie. On Saturday, a reader sent me a link to one of the most useful sites I’ve ever encountered. I realize that over the weekend it’s spread around the skeptical blogosphere like…

A week ago or so, I was perusing my Google Alerts, along with various blogs and news websites, looking for something to blog about, when I noticed a disturbance in the pseudoscience Force. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed many times before from a wide variety of cranks and quacks, but it all boils down to…

I’ve often written of “black holes of stupid” that threaten to rupture the fabric of the space-time continuum, so dense and full of stupid are they. Such black holes tend to come from places like the wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery known as Age of Autism, the wretched hive of scum and conspiracy…

A couple of Sundays ago (Easter, to be precise), my wife and I were sitting around yesterday reading the Sunday papers and perusing the Internet (as is frequently our wont on Sunday mornings), when I heard a contemptuous harrumph coming from her direction. She then pointed me to an article in our local newspaper entitled…

This might look somewhat familiar to people, but I have a good excuse. Yesterday was Easter, and, although by no stretch of the imagination can I be accused of being particularly religious, we still did have family to visit. Add to that the fact that I have a two talks to give today that as…

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…