Skepticism/critical thinking

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

One of the hazards of standing up for science and science-based medicine (and against cranks) is that some of these cranks will try to contact you at work. That’s why I have a policy about blog-related e-mails sent to me work address, and that policy is that I usually ignore them, whereas I might actually…

Remember Alan Yurko? To remind those of you not familiar with this particularly odious excuse for a human being, I’ll briefly relate who he is and why he’s so vile. Alan Yurko is a baby killer, pure and simple. He shook his 10-week-old son to death. Normally, such a pitiful excuse for a human being…

Our pharma overlords will be displeased…

There’s an oft-quoted saying that’s become a bit of a cliché among skeptics that goes something like this: There are two kinds of medicine: medicine that’s been proven scientifically to work, and medicine that hasn’t. This is then often followed up with a rhetorical question and its answer: What do call “alternative medicine” that’s been…

“Forced” to be an antivaccinationist?

Every so often there are articles or posts about which I want to blog that, for whatever reason, I don’t get around to. I’ve alluded before to my observation that blogging tends to be a “feast or famine” sort of activity. Sometimes, there isn’t a lot going on, and, if there’s one thing I’ve failed…

Ideologically motivated bad science, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies irritate me. In fact, arguably, they are the very reason I started this blog. True, over time my focus has narrowed. I used to write a lot more about creationism, more general skeptical topics, Holocaust denial, 9/11 Trutherism, and the like, but these days I rarely write…

Overselling preclinical results

As part of my ongoing effort to make sure that I never run out of blogging material, I subscribe to a number of quack e-mail newsletters. In fact, sometimes I think I’ve probably overdone it. Every day, I get several notices and pleas from various wretched hives of scum and quackery, such as NaturalNews.com, Mercola.com,…

I sense a disturbance in the skeptical blogosphere. It is something that I half-expected, but, even so, it nonetheless somewhat surprised me when it arrived in the form of comments on my blog and e-mails from readers, fellow supporters of science-based medicine, and others asking me what I thought. In a way, it makes me…

One of the overarching issues, if not the overarching issue that makes so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM)—or, as it’s now more commonly called, “integrative medicine”—so problematic is prior plausibility. It’s also one of the most difficult to explain to the lay public, because to someone not trained in science it can sound like not…

More data on why people reject science

Although I focus mostly on medical topics, such as vaccines, alternative medicine, and cancer quackery, I don’t limit myself to such topics. True, I used to write a lot more about evolution and creationism, the paranormal, and other standard skeptical topics, but over the last couple of years I’ve realized where my strength is and…

Believe it or not, after nearly eight years blogging and around five years before that cutting my skeptical teeth on that vast and wild (and now mostly deserted and fallow) wilderness that was Usenet, I have occasionally wondered whether what I’m doing is worthwhile. Sometime around 1998, after I first discovered Holocaust denial on Usenet,…

If only… (Or, no science for you!)

I must admit, there are times when I see something that someone else has written and, in a fit of intense envy, wish very much that I had written it. This is just such a time, and Tony Ballantyne has written just such a piece. Even better, his piece, entitled If only…, was published in…

Here we go again. Every so often, criticism of the antivaccine movement builds to the point where it extends beyond the blogosphere to enter the national zeitgeist in a way in which people other than blogging geeks like myself start to take notice. It happened a few years ago, when washed up actress Jenny McCarthy…

If there’s one thing that goes back to the very beginning of this blog (or at least it started in the first year), it’s having a bit of fun with Deepak Chopra. I realize that to some it might seem like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel. With a rocket launcher. On the other…

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Well, not really, although it has been a while since I’ve discussed Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. Specifically, I last dedicated a post to him following the death of one of his famous patients, Billie Bainbridge, who incidentally had become…

Jamy Ian Swiss on science-based skepticism

As the last full weekday of my vacation passes, I thought about whether I’d bother to post anything or not, given that I happen to be traveling. After yesterday’s post, the subject of which was profoundly depressing to me because I hate it when quacks take cynical advantage of a grieving family to promote their…

I must admit, I’ve been enjoying my vacation thus far and have hardly paid attention to the blog, other than a couple of quick posts. For me, this is quite amazing. Still, every so often there pops up a story that I can’t resist commenting on, particularly given that I’m just sitting around watching the…

One of the consistent themes I’ve maintained on this blog over the years is to combat in my own small way in my own small corner of the Internet, the influx into medical academia of medicine based not on science, but on prescientific notions of disease, vitalism, and magic, such as homeopathy (which is sympathetic…

Dying of cancer can be a horrible way to go, but as a cancer specialist I sometimes forget that there are diseases that are equally, if not more, horrible. One that always comes to mind is amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a motor neuron disease whose clinical…

Do we need algebra? Are you kidding me?

And now for something completely different… Well, not really, but kind of different. I realize that my niche here has become discussing science-based medicine, evidence-based medicine, and the atrocities committed against both by proponents of so-called “complementary and alternative” medicine, but every so often I need a change of pace. Unfortunately, that change of pace…

Medical therapies should be based upon science. That is a recurrent theme, indeed, the major theme, of this blog. Based on that simple thesis, I’ve spent the last decade examining “unconventional” treatments and evaluating the scientific basis (or, much more usually, the lack of a scientific basis) for various treatments. Yes, I’ve looked at other…

At least half the time, it seems that when I take on a relatively new topic with every intention of just doing one post about it I somehow end up doing more than one post. I don’t know why that is. It just seems to happen. Sometimes, I find something related to but sufficiently different…

Many are the forms of quackery to which autistic children are subjected to. It’s amazing just how many dubious and dangerous treatments (dubbed “biomedical treatments” or “autism biomed”) parents will try in an effort to “recover” their children. Perhaps the most shocking of this quackery that I’ve recently covered is something called “miracle mineral solution”…

Depopulation by vaccines?

After all the years that I’ve been writing about vaccines, the science behind vaccines, and how antivaccinationists twist that science to turn what are arguably the greatest medical achievement of medicine and have saved arguably more lives than any other medical intervention devised by human minds into toxic cesspits of horrific chemical corruption that cause…

A couple of weeks ago, I had a bit of fun with a rather clueless chiropractor by the name of J.C. Smith (JCS), who decided to take a swipe at an organization with which I’m associated, namely the Institute for Science in Medicine (ISM). It was such an inept attack, filled with misinformation, pseudoscience, and…

An aromatherapist versus science

Things are getting back to normal here at Casa Orac. it’s always a come down after going to TAM and being able to mingle, argue, and party with people who share my skeptical world view. Yesterday was back to reality, though, at least as much as jet lag and sleep deprivation allowed. Fortunately, Monday is…