Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

Poor Andy Wakefield. Beginning in the late 1990s until around six years ago, Andy was the premiere “vaccine skeptic” in the world. His 1998 case series published in The Lancet linking bowel problems in autistic children to the measles vaccine, the one where in the paper itself he was careful not to blame the MMR…

Every so often, it’s good to post some heartening news regarding quackery. After all, after a decade of blogging about this, preceded by five years in the trenches of Usenet battling quackery and Holocaust denial, sometimes it’s hard for me not to become depressed. After all, there are times when it really does feel as…

With the Disneyland measles outbreak still going strong and striking far more unvaccinated than vaccinated, it’s not surprising that a discussion has begun in some states about lax policies that permit religious and/or philosophical exemptions. In Oregon, for example, the legislature is considering SB442, a bill apparently originally intended to provide a technical fix to…

Oh, goody. Here’s something we didn’t need here in the US. While Australian skeptics have successfully been rallying to put a stop to a series of lectures from American antivaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, we’re going to have to put up with a far bigger name in quackery showing up right here in the good ol’…

Blowing the antivaccine dog whistle again

You remember Dr. Bob, don’t you? I’m referring, of course, to Robert “Dr. Bob” Sears, the Capistrano Beach, CA pediatrician who’s arguably the most famous of the antivaccine pediatricians who have been spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. (Sorry, Dr. Jay, but, regardless of your being Jenny McCarthy’s son’s pediatrician, I’d bet that…

Ever since the Disneyland measles outbreak hit high gear last month and permeated the national consciousness, the antivaccine movement has, justifiably, been on the defensive. We’ve been treated to the spectacle of a truly despicable cardiologist spewing antivaccine nonsense with an added dollop of contempt for parents of children with cancer who are worried about…

It often comes as a surprise to proponents of alternative medicine and critics of big pharma that I’m a big fan of John Ioannidis. Evidence of this can easily be found right here on this very blog just by entering Ioannidis’ name into the search box. Indeed, my first post about an Ioannidis paper is…

If there’s one thing that’s become clear to me over the years about acupuncture, it’s that it’s nothing more than a theatrical placebo. Many are the times that I’ve asked: Can we finally just say that acupuncture is nothing more than an elaborate placebo? Most recently, I asked this question in 2012. What science-based medicine…

I really don’t want Mondays to be come “let’s refute and make fun of the conspiratorial antivaccine nonsense Bill Maher said on his show Friday night.” I really don’t. However, I figured that I might have to devote Monday to that one more time this week after Maher really let his antivaccine freak flag fly…

If there’s one good thing about the ongoing Disneyland measles outbreak that is continuing to spread, if there can be a “good thing” about an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease that didn’t have to happen, it’s that it’s put the antivaccine movement on the defensive. They are definitely feeling the heat. Their reaction to that heat…

Sometimes, in order to understand advocates of pseudoscience, such as antivaccinationists, it’s a useful exercise to look at their most extreme elements. Admittedly, in focusing on such loons, one does take the risk of generalizing the nuts to everyone a bit much, but on the other hand I’ve often found that the extremists are basically…

Note added 2/10/2015: I’ve posted a followup in response to the skeptics who defend Bill Maher. A couple of weeks ago, I noted the return of the antivaccine wingnut side of Bill Maher, after a (relative) absence of several years, dating back, most likely, to the thorough spanking he endured for spouting off his antivaccine…

Well, the ongoing multistate measles outbreak that’s been in the news for the last few weeks continues apace, which means I can’t seem to stay away from the issue for more than a couple of days. For instance, yesterday I learned that five babies at a Chicago-area day care have been diagnosed with the measles.…

Yesterday was a very strange day, at least on the Internet. I really should learn to remove Twitter from my iPhone on Wednesdays. Why? Wednesdays tend to be my administrative days. I’m not in clinic seeing patients nor am I in the operating room. That’s why Wednesday tends to be one of the two days…

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…