Skepticism/critical thinking

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

The cult of the antivaccine

After a brief foray yesterday into discussing atheism, tone deafness, and the Holocaust (how’s that for an odd combination?), I’m ready to get back to more—shall we say?—conventional topics. One topic that’s been popping up at that other wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery (one of the ones other than Age of Autism) reveals…

Time really does fly. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a week since I gave my big (to me, at least) talk at TAM. It’s equally hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I had the honor of being kicked out of Penn Jillette’s Private Rock & Roll Bacon…

Greetings, everyone. I realize that I, your host—is that anything like, “I, Tim Bolen”?—have been remiss in not providing the expected daily 2,000 word magnum opus. However, I have been busy plotting with our Lord and Master, Lord Draconis Zeneca. Our plans for world domination and the utter destruction of all “natural” cures are percolating…

I never used to write much about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before. I still don’t do it that often. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t been on my radar very much. That seems to be changing, however. It’s not because I went seeking this issue out (although I must admit that I first became interested…

Well, I’ve finally seen it, and it was even worse than I had feared. One might even say that watching it was like repeatedly smacking my head into a brick wall. It felt so good when it finally stopped. I’m referring, of course, to Eric Merola’s latest cinematic “effort. Ever since it was revealed that…

On “helping” that is anything but

Cancer is a bitch. Depending upon what organ is involved and what kind of cancer it is, it can be incredibly hard to cure. All too often, it is incurable, particularly when it involves the brain, pancreas, esophagus, or other organs. People wonder why, after over 40 years of a “war on cancer,” we don’t…

How to kill cancer cells

I am taking the Memorial Day holiday off. I will return tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a general principle that needs to be remembered in cancer research: I would also add to that list: So does bleach. So does acid. So does alkali. So does pouring the media out of the dish and letting the…

After yesterday, I really hadn’t planned on writing about Angelina Jolie and her decision to undergo bilateral mastectomies again, except perhaps as a more serious piece next week on my not-so-super-secret other blog where The Name of the Doctor is revealed on a weekly basis. As I mentioned yesterday, there are a number of issues…

A key pillar of the Stanislaw Burzynski antineoplaston marketing machine, a component of the marketing strategy without which his clinic would not be able to attract nearly as many desperate cancer patients to Houston for either his antineoplaston therapy (now under a temporary shutdown by the FDA that, if science were to reign, will become…

As hard as it might be to believe, one time over 20 years ago I actually took the Dale Carnegie course and, as part of that course, read his famous book How To Win Friends and Influence People. I know, I know. It’s probably not obvious from my style of writing on this particular blog,…

A long, long time ago in a ScienceBlogs far, far away (well, it seems that way anyway, given the halcyon times back then before Pepsigate), Mark Hoofnagle coined the term “crank magnetism.” It was a fantastic term used to describe how susceptibility to one form of quackery, pseudoscience, or just plain crankery tended to be…

Heidi Stevenson amuses me. I know, I know, I’ve started a previous post with exactly this sentence a mere month ago, but it’s so damned appropriate that I can’t help but try it again. A homeopath (which means that she’s reality-challenged to begin with), she’s produced some of the most hilariously off-base, pseudoscientific, and downright…

If there is one aspect of cranks that is almost universal (besides the aforementioned tendency to want to prove themselves through things like “live televised debates“), it’s a tendency to want to shut down the criticism of its opposition. True, such a tendency is a human trait as well and used far too often by,…

Who can quack the loudest?

Over the years this blog’s been in existence, I’ve fallen into a habit in which I tend to like to finish off the week taking on a bit of science (well, usually pseudoscience) that is either really out there, really funny, or in general not as heavy as, for example, writing about someone like Stanislaw…

It works every time, doesn’t it?

Every so often I come across a news story relevant to the subject matter usually encompassed by this blog that makes me shake my head in disbelief at the sheer stupidity. OK, every day, if you count the antivaccine movement and its attacks on papers like the one I wrote about Monday and yesterday. True,…

“Common sense” that isn’t

“Common sense” is not so common. Actually, that’s not exactly right. What I meant was that what most people think of as “common sense” has little or nothing to do with what science concludes. Evidence talks, “common sense” walks. I saw a fantastic example to illustrate this point on a certain blog that I’ve found…

When I wrote about the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) trial last week, little did I suspect that I would be revisiting the topic again so soon. For those of you not familiar with TACT, it was a trial designed to test a favorite quack treatment for cardiovascular disease, chelation therapy. It is, as…

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Brian Berman. We first met him when he somehow managed to insinuate a “case report” of chronic low back pain into The New England Journal of Medicine in which he recommended acupuncture for this patient. Dr. Berman also happens to be a founder of quackademic medicine on…

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have…

With very limited exceptions, chelation therapy is, as I said before in my somewhat Insolent opinion, is pure quackery. The sole exception is for real, documented cases of acute heavy metal poisoning that are known to respond to chelation, such as iron overload due to transfusion, aluminum overload due to hemodialysis, copper toxicity due to…

So I finally made it to the Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Symposium. Thanks to the snowstorm that apparently wasn’t (at least, I don’t see any snow around), my arrival was delayed by a day, as all flights to the Washington, DC area were canceled on Wednesday. But I did finally get here, and, although…

I’m not a big fan of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). That I don’t much like CTCA should come as no surprise, given that this particular hospital chain distinguishes itself from other hospital chains by advertising its full body embrace of quackery, in particular “naturopathic oncology.” At the same time as it’s advertising its…

Does anyone “recover” from autism?

Way back in the day, when I was a newbie at countering the mass of hysterical pseudoscience that is the antivaccine movement, particularly the myth that vaccines cause autism, a blogger by the ‘nym of Prometheus taught me that autism and autism spectrum disorders (particularly by antivaccinationists and believers in the quackery known as “autism…

Time really flies. It’s hard to believe that the first national skeptical conference of the season is NECSS 2013 (The Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism), hosted by the New York City Skeptics and the New England Skeptical Society, is fast approaching. In fact, it’s only a little more than two months away. The conference…

About a year and a half ago, I applied a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence to a a clueless article about the the “triumph” of New Age medicine. The article channeled the worst fallacies of apologists for alternative medicine. Basically, its whole idea appeared to be that, even if most of “complementary and alternative medicine”…