Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

So I was distracted yesterday from what I had intended to write about by an irresistible target provided me courtesy of Toby Cosgrove, MD, CEO of The Cleveland Clinic, who bemoaned all those nasty pro-science advocates who had had the temerity to link the antivaccine rant by the director of the Clinic’s Wellness Institute to…

I’ve been pretty hard on The Cleveland Clinic over the years, but justifiably so. After all, The Cleveland Clinic is one of the leading centers of quackademic medicine in the US; i.e., an academic medical center that studies and uses quackery as though it were legitimate medicine. Of course, this is a problem that is…

I’ve written quite a bit about how our soon-to-be President Donald Trump has consistently expressed antivaccine views over the years, such as his oft-stated (on Twitter and elsewhere) beliefs that it’s a “monster” shot that causes autism and infants get “too many” vaccines “too soon.” I’ve heard Trump supporters who are pro-vaccine pooh-pooh these statements…

One of the most important, if not the most important, officials in the federal government responsible for applying science-based medicine to the regulation of medicine is the FDA Commissioner. As you might imagine, particularly after his having met with antivaccinationists like Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., I am concerned, and I think I…

This week hasn’t been a particularly good week for science. It started out on Monday with news of the social media storm from over the weekend over a blatantly antivaccine screed published the Friday before by the director of The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Clinic. Then, towards the middle of the week, we learned that our…

I was busy last night doing something other than actually blogging. Perhaps I was recovering from the one-two punch of the antivaccine rant penned by the director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute followed by Donald Trump’s meeting with antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Whatever the case I crashed early. However, I can’t help…

I remember when I first heard on Twitter yesterday afternoon that our President-Elect, Donald Trump, was going to meet with longtime antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Remembering how Trump had met with antivaccine “hero” Andrew Wakefield before the election and how after the election antivaccine activists were practically salivating over the thought of what…

The fallout from the social media firestorm from the antivaccine rant written by the Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and published by Cleveland.com last Friday has abated but far from faded away. The offending physician, Dr. Daniel Neides, was forced to issue an apology, which was one of the least convincing apologies…

Over the weekend, a most unusual social media firestorm erupted in response to a blog post by Daniel Neides, MD, MBA, Acting Medical Director of the Tanya I. Edwards Center for Integrative Medicine, Vice Chair and Chief Operating Officer of Cleveland Clinic Wellness, as well as the Associate Director of Clinical Education for The Cleveland…

In a perverse way, one almost has to admire naturopaths. If there’s anything that characterizes naturopaths in their pursuit of legitimacy and licensure, it’s an amazing relentlessness. In this, they are not unlike The Terminator. As Kyle Reese described him in the first Terminator movie, the Terminator “can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned…

Back in the day, quacks and cranks liked Wikipedia. Because anyone can become an editor on Wikipedia, they assumed that they could just sign up to edit Wikipedia pages and change them to reflect their views on alternative medicine or whatever other pseudoscientific topic they believed in. When Wikipedia first emerged on the scene, I…

The unreality of reiki and distance healing

Well, it’s 2017. In a mere 17 days, unreality will become reality, as the most unlikely and terrifying President in my lifetime is sworn in. Consequently, as I was thinking about what I’d like to write about for my first post of the new year, only one thing came to mind. Only one thing that…

2016: The year bullshit was weaponized

Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, quackery, and belief in things that can be objectively demonstrated not to be true have always been with us. Unfortunately, 2016 was the year that this bullshit was weaponized, and we may never recover.

Quackademic medicine. I didn’t invent the term. (Dr. R. W. Donnell did—nearly nine years ago.) However, I sure use it a lot, because it perfectly describes a phenomenon that has proliferated and metastasized throughout the body of academic medicine like the cancer it is. I like to think that, in my own way, I’ve popularized…

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve been at this blogging thing for 12 years now. In fact, it’s been so long that this year I didn’t even remember to mention it when it happened nearly two weeks ago. Over that time period, I’ve dealt with a large number of conspiracy theories. Indeed, skeptics…

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post that, much to my surprise, went viral, garnering more Facebook “Likes” than any before it, although it only came in maybe third in traffic after the all-time record-holding post from a couple of years ago. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was, after all, about Tom Price,…

Blogging is a funny thing. Sometimes the coincidence involved is epic. For instance, as I do on many Mondays, yesterday I crossposted a modified and updated version of a post from a week ago from my not-so-super-secret other blog. This time around, it just so happened to be a post about what I like to…

I write quite a bit about placebo effects. Of course, part of the reason is that placebo effects are just plain interesting from a scientific perspective. After all, if one can relieve symptoms with inert sugar pills or other ineffective interventions because of the power of expectation, that’s something we should want to understand. Also,…

There are times when I wonder: How on earth did I miss this? Usually, I pride myself on being pretty timely in my blogging, writing about new stuff that’s fairly fresh. Sure, barring a fortuitous confluence of events and timing, I’m rarely the “firstest with the mostest” on a topic. I do, after all, have…

I don’t know if other bloggers out there have experienced anything like this, but I’ve experienced this a few times since starting this blog. Last night I started writing about an article that—or so I thought— was the perfect distillation of the message of the NCCIH and its desire to co-opt nonpharmacological treatments for pain…

I’ve seen it noted that our new President-Elect seems to be selecting his cabinet officers and directors of federal bureaucracies based on how much they oppose the mission of the department they are supposed to head. For instance, to head the Department of Health and Human Services, he picked an orthopedic surgeon who belongs to…

I wasn’t always a skeptic. Maybe I should rephrase that. I’ve probably always been a skeptic since a young age. It’s just that I didn’t start self-identifying as one until around 1998 or so. Oddly enough, my “gateway drug” into more organized skepticism was refuting Holocaust denial. I’ve told the tale on multiple occasions before,…

Old fart that I am, I’ve been a fan of The Rolling Stones since the mid-1970s, when I was in junior high school. Over the years, I’ve accumulated pretty close to all of their studio albums—and even bought multiple remastered versions of classics like Exile on Main Street and Beggar’s Banquet—and got access to the…

Yesterday, I noted the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, a Hobson’s choice of a bill for those of us who support increased biomedical research funding that basically said: You can have an increase in the NIH budget. You can have the Cancer Moonshot. You can have President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and his…

Well, it’s done. Today, the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill designed to weaken the FDA and empower pharmaceutical companies, sending it to President Obama’s desk. There’s no way Obama won’t sign it, as it contains provisions funding his Precision Medicine Initiative, and he supported it all along. For all its flaws,…