Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

I heard the news yesterday morning. I was in clinic seeing patients. It was a bit of a slow morning; there was time between patients. So I spent it, as is my wont when clinic is a bit slow, signing charts (OK, signing off on charts in the electronic medical record; I haven’t actually physically…

Several of you have noticed that a certain friend of the blog has been under attack from one of the quackiest of Internet quacks out there. Here is his response. The paranoia and stupidity are black hole level density. (Yes, instead of posting the whole thing, I’ve simply posted a link to our friend’s discussion…

It sucks to be diagnosed with cancer at any age, but it especially sucks to be young and diagnosed with cancer. The prompt application of science-based cancer treatment is important for anyone with cancer, but it’s especially important for young people with cancer, because they have the most life-years to lose if they dawdle or…

I often describe “integrative medicine” as integrating quackery with medicine because that’s what this inadvertently appropriately named branch of medicine in essence does. The reason, as I’ve described time and time again, is to put that quackery on equal footing (or at least apparently equal footing) with science- and evidence-based medicine, a goal that is…

Celebrities who support pseudoscience and quackery are worse than regular, run-of-the-mill believers because they have a much larger soapbox than any of us do. I have a pretty healthy blog traffic for a medical blog, but even I don’t reach more than maybe 10,000 people a day. Even at my not-so-super-secret other blog, we only…

Of all the forms of quackery that have been “integrated” into medicine of late, arguably one of the most popular is acupuncture. It’s offered in fertility clinics. It’s offered in hospitals and medical clinics all over the place. The vast majority of academic medical centers that have embraced quackademic medicine offer acupuncture. (Quackademic medicine, for…

Nearly two weeks ago, a story that I had been blogging about almost nonstop for a week reached its conclusion when Robert De Niro decided to pull the antivaccine movie Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe from the Tribeca Film Festival, of which he was one of the co-founders. Before that, he had revealed that it…

All drugs are poisons, and that’s OK

There are a number of aphorisms that one imbibes over many years of medical education, especially in medical school. Some are useful; some are not; but some stick with you for reasons that even you can’t figure out. For example, I still remember my first day of medical school over 30 (!) years ago. It…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of John Ioannidis. (If you don’t believe me, just type Ioannidis’ name into the blog search box and see how many posts you find.) Over the last couple of decades, Ioannidis has arguably done more to reveal the shortcomings of the medical research enterprise that undergirds our treatments,…

I wish this post were an April Fools Day joke, but it is not. Three weeks ago, Skeptical Raptor and I wrote posts describing how a particularly vicious, nasty antivaccine troll named Heather Murray had successfully gamed Facebook reporting algorithms intended to report abuse in order to silence pro-science bloggers. It is, unfortunately, a tactic…

Whenever a story like Robert De Niro’s decision to choose an antivaccine film by Andrew Wakefield for screening at his prestigious Tribeca Film Festival followed by his decision to drop the film like the proverbial hot potato upon being shown just how full of misinformation, distortions, and pseudoscience the film is shows up, I not…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this again so soon, because one post seemed adequate to describe the massive dump that the Tribeca Film Festival just took on reality by announcing the screening of a pseudoscientific antivaccine propaganda film by The One Antivaccine Quack To Rule Them All, Andrew Wakefield. Any…

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…