Skepticism/critical thinking

Category archives for Skepticism/critical thinking

As hard as it might be to believe, almost as long as there have been vaccinations, there has been an antivaccine movement, and as long as there has been an antivaccine movement, there have been parents who refuse to vaccinate. Indeed, in the 1800s, there were even groups with names like the Anti-Vaccination Society of…

It is an article of faith among believers in alternative cancer cures that conventional oncology consists mainly of a bunch of money-hungry surgeons and oncologists who want nothing more than to cut, poison, and burn patients with cancer and charge them enormous sums of money to do so for as long as they can until…

Emergency acupuncture!

Many are the bizarre, dubious, and downright crappy acupuncture studies that I’ve deconstructed over the years. Just type “acupuncture” into the search box of this blog, and you’ll soon see. (If that pulls up too many results, try typing “acupuncture” and “study” or “acupuncture” and “clinical trial” in the search box.) I’m not the only…

Many are the times that I’ve discussed the issue of quack doctors. I’m not just referring to naturopaths, whose abbreviation ND stands to me for “not a doctor.” In fact, I’m referring to actual, real physicians, doctors with an “MD” or “DO” after their names, doctors who have graduated from reputable medical schools, completed residencies…

I’ve frequently said that a tendency towards pseudoscience knows no political boundary. For example, antivaccine views, contrary to common belief, are not detectably more prevalent on the left than on the right, as I’ve discussed on more than one occasion. It’s just that for so many years, antivaccine beliefs were associated in the media with…

Well, I’ve finally seen it. The things I do for my readers, the pain to which I subject myself by watching neuron-apotosing levels of pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies as antivaccine propaganda, in order to deconstruct them for your amusement and, I hope, education! Yes, I’ve finally seen Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree’s “documentary” VAXXED: From…

Another cancer quack dies…of cancer.

As a cancer surgeon and physician, I can’t stand Ty Bollinger. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to absolutely none of my regular readers, given what a massive cancer quack he is. Most recently, he has become known for a series of deeply dishonest videos about cancer, chemotherapy, and alternative treatments for cancer called…

One of the most insidious and oft-repeated myths of the antivaccine movement is that vaccines cause autism. Certainly, it is true that there was an antivaccine movement long before anyone thought of linking vaccines to autism. For example, in the the 1980s the DPT (diptheria-whole cell pertussis-tetanus) vaccine was linked to encephalitis and neurological damage,…

Welcome once again to Sh*t Naturopaths Say, my periodic look at what naturopaths say behind closed doors (metaphorically speaking). At least, it’s a look at what they say when they are discussing patient management with their peers. It is a series to which I can add new entires from time to time, thanks to Naturopathic…

If you grew up, as I did, a child of the 1970s in the US (I graduated from high school in 1980), you probably couldn’t escape the influence of Kris Kristofferson. He was big, and he was at his biggest during the 1970s, pumping out country music and mainstream hits, appearing in movies, and generally…

There are reasons that I’m not a pediatrician. First, and foremost, I like surgery. Indeed, when I first entered medical school, my intent was to become an academic internist, but things didn’t quite work out that way. To my surprise, when I did my surgery rotation I liked it way more than I ever thought…

I’ve been writing about this topic so long—ever since the very beginning of this blog—that it seems as though I’ve always been doing it even though this blog has been in existence only 11 years and I didn’t really come to appreciate the problem until after I had started this blog. No, I’m not referring…

One of the most frequent complaints about evidence-based medicine (EBM), in contrast to science-based medicine (SBM), is its elevation of the randomized clinical trial as the be-all and end-all for clinical evidence for an intervention for a particular disease or condition. Unknown but enormous quantities of “digital ink” have been spilled explaining this distinction right…

A week ago, I wrote about an example of one of the most common topics on this blog, the infiltration of pseudoscientific medicine and outright fantasy into academic medicine, a trend I like to refer to as quackademic medicine. The institution was George Washington University, and the dubious intervention was something called the MEND™ Protocol,…

Yesterday, I took note of a meeting of advocates and lawyers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which makes him a very powerful Congressman. The group that met with him included Del Bigtree, the producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propagandafest of a “documentary” VAXXED:…

One of the most frequent complaints leveled at pro-science advocates who defend vaccines against antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience is that we’re way too fast to label them as “antivaccine,” that we use the term as a convenient label to demonize their views. We’re not really antivaccine, they tell us. We’re vaccine safety advocates. Really. Now,…

A recurring theme of this blog is to shine a light on what I like to call “quackademic medicine.” I didn’t invent the term, but I’ve made it mine. Basically, quackademic medicine is a term that very aptly describes what’s going on in far too many academic medical centers these days, which is the infiltration…

I sensed a disturbance in the antivaccine (i.e, the dark) side of the Force yesterday. No matter where I wandered online and on social media, I kept running into a new article, an article by Neil Z. Miller about vaccines. For example, the merry band of antivaccine propagandists over at Age of Autism seem to…

Last week, I noted with great approval how a 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo made a pro-vaccine video that was short, simple, and effective. Even better, it was as Insolent as anything Orac could expect to manage, making it that much more delicious. Indeed, I can’t resist including it again for those of you who…

Most scientists I know get a chuckle out of the Journal of Irreproducible Results (JIR), a humor journal that often parodies scientific papers. Back in the day, we used to chuckle at articles like “Any Eye for an Eye for an Arm and a Leg: Applied Dysfunctional Measurement” and “A Double Blind Efficacy Trial of…

A couple of days ago, I told the tale of a really bright and justifiably snarky 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo, who posted a video of himself on Facebook with the caption “Vaccines DO cause autism”: I know I posted that video just two days ago, but it’s so epic that I can’t resist posting…

Those of us living in Michigan who support science-based medicine have been forced to deal with a bill that, if passed, would grant practitioners of unscientific “medicine” a wide scope of practice—almost as wide as that of primary care practitioners such as pediatricians, internists, and family practice doctors. I’m referring to HB 4531, a bill…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the antivaccine movement, it’s that its members dislike being criticized. Oh, hell, let’s be honest. The really, really hate criticism and react very, very badly to it. Whereas you or I or other skeptics might react to criticism by trying to address it using facts, science, and reason,…

One major thing that differentiated science-based medicine (SBM) from alternative medicine and quackery is that in SBM there is a generally accepted standard of care. This was even the case back in the days before the proliferation of evidence-based guidelines, in which professional societies and expert panels try their best to synthesize what is often…

After over 11 years at this blogging thing, I periodically start to fear that I’m becoming jaded. In particular, after following the infiltration of quackery in the form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more commonly known as “integrative medicine,” because it integrates CAM with evidence-based medicine. Of course, in reality, what “integrative medicine”…