Pseudoscience

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Pseudoscience

Remember Vox Day? Newer converts to the glory that is Orac (or at least to the ego that is Orac) might not know who Vox is because it’s been a while since I’ve discussed his antiscience attitudes. By and large, this is probably a good thing, given that Vox denies evolution, has been antivaccine from…

I’m sometimes criticized for referring to various people who are “anti-science” as, well, “anti-science.” People, for whatever reason, have a hard time believing that anyone is anti-science; so when I point out how much, for example, antivaccinationists, alternative medicine believers, or creationists are anti-science, they have a had time believing it. This is particularly true…

One of the most inaptly named groups I’ve ever seen is called Thinking Moms’ Revolution (henceforth abbreviated as TMR). Given the reality of what TMR really is, the word “thinking” applied to TMR is, as they say, so wrong it’s not even wrong. As for a “revolution,” what TMR really represents is nothing revolutionary at…

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging, preventing the creation of fresh Insolence, at least Insolence of the quality that you’ve come to expect. This is one of those times, and it doesn’t help that it’s a holiday week plus a week I was traveling. So I dug way back into the archives, back…

An animal rights zealot faces her comeuppance

I was going to write about that article about massage therapy and the gene expression changes it causes, but when I went to look up the actual paper and found out, to my great disappointment, that our institution still doesn’t have a subscription to the journal in which it was published. So, while I’m waiting…

It’s amazing how fast six months can pass, isn’t it? Well, almost six months, anyway, as it was five and a half months ago that I wrote about a particularly execrable example of quackademic medicine in the form of a study that actually looked at an “energy healing” modality known as “energy chelation” as a…

A couple of weeks ago, I made the observation that there seems to have been a–shall we say?–realignment in one of the central arguments that proponents of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) make. Back in the day (say, a few years ago), such CAM practitioners and apologists used to try very,…

In the more than a decade since I first discovered, to my shock, that there are actual people out there who not only don’t believe that vaccines are safe despite overwhelming evidence that they are but in fact believe that they don’t work and are dangerous, I thought I had seen every antivaccine argument out…

If there’s one thing about homeopaths, it’s that they’re indefatigable in their dedication to their unique brand of pseudoscience. They’re also endlessly protean in their ability to induce their explanations for how homeopathy is supposed to “work” to evolve into endless forms not so beautiful. If it’s not the claim that “like cures like” is…

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years looking at cranks, examining crank science (i.e., pseudoscience), and trying to figure out how to inoculate people against crankery. Because I’m a physician, I tend to do it mostly in the realm of medicine by critically examining “alternative” medical claims and discussing the scientific basis of…

HIV/AIDS denialism versus science

As a skeptic and a blogger, my main interest has evolved to be the discussion of science-based medicine and how one can identify what in medicine is and is not based in science. Part of the reason for this is because of my general interest in skepticism dating back to my discovery that there actually…

There’s no woo like golf woo

I suck at golf. There was a time in my life when I golfed a lot. Unfortunately, I was pretty lousy at it. I tended to shoot around 120, and only once in my life do I ever recall breaking 100 for 18 holes. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking…

Ever since starting my blog nearly seven (!) years ago, I’ve concentrated mainly on skepticism in medicine, in particular examining various implausible medical claims that proliferate on the Internet and in our media like so much kudzu choking out science and reason. The reasons are two-fold. First, it’s what I’m interested in. Second, it was…

It appears that while TAM9 was dominating all my extracurricular, non-job-related attention, with my having to get ready to give a talk, I failed to notice another thing besides the placebo/asthma paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine last Thursday. But fear not. If it’s important (to me, at least, and hopefully to…

Homeopathy for malaria? Again?

I know I’ve said it many, many times before, but it’s something that, in my opinion at least, can’t be repeated too often. Homeopathy is ridiculous. Arguably, it’s the most ridiculous of “alternative” therapies ever conceived. And that’s saying a lot. After all, among “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (IM), we have…

Remember Michael Egnor? I bet many of you do. If you were reading this blog three or four years ago, Dr. Egnor was a fairly regular target topic of my excretions of not-so-Respectful Insolence. The reason for that was, at the time, I was quite annoyed that a fellow surgeon could so regularly lay down…

Orac note: Grant season is in full swing, and that’s what I spent my weekend doing: writing grants. Consequently, here’s a rerun from, hard as it is to believe, four and a half years ago. It’s the first appearance of one of the most hilarious “alt-med” attacks on science-based medicine I’ve ever seen, calling us…

Detoxifying fashionably

How many times have I read or heard from believers in “alternative” medicine that some disease or other is caused by “toxins”? I honestly can’t remember, but in alt-world, no matter what the disease or condition under discussion is, there’s a good chance that sooner or later it will be linked to “toxins.” It doesn’t…

A couple of weeks ago, the anti-vaccine movement took a swing for the fences and, as usual, made a mighty whiff that produced a breeze easily felt in the bleachers. In brief, a crew of anti-vaccine lawyers named headed by Mary Holland, co-author of Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten…

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Eat the sun?

With the utter ridiculousness of the arguments laid down by Dr. Oz when Steve Novella appeared on his show and the even more ridiculous silliness of J.B. Handley thinking that Matt Carey, a.k.a. Sullivan, is really Bonnie Offit, I had originally thought that I should find some peer-reviewed scientific article today to do a sober,…

I’m tired. Well, not exactly. I think I’m just suffering a case of what I like to call “anti-vax burnout.” It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the antivaccine front, given the new set of revelations about Andrew Wakefield, including even more detail about the nature of the scientific fraud he committed and previously…

After you’ve been blogging as long as I have, you inevitably wind up on a lot of mailing lists. Publicity companies, for instance, long ago discovered that getting a buzz going in the blogosphere is every bit as important as trying to get coverage from the “traditional” media. If you’re as fortunate as I’ve been…

Beyond butt reflexology

Egads! You remember my fun little post about a Sokal-type hoax perpetrated by John C. McLachlan, when he completely fooled the “scientific review” committee of a complementary and alternative medicine conference with a hilarious Sokal-inspired hoax in which he created, in essence, butt reflexology. I thought it was an amusing and fairly original bit of…

Luc Montagnier: The Nobel disease strikes again

They call it the Nobel disease. Linus Pauling is the prototypical example. A brilliant chemist who won two Nobel Prizes, one for chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize, in his later years Pauling became convinced that high dose vitamin C was a highly effective treatment for cancer and the common cold and, expanding upon that,…

Can you count the straw men about skepticism?

Woo-meisters love to build massive straw men about what skepticism is, the better to tear it down with gusto and paint skeptics as close-minded “debunkers.” I just came across a video that does just that (click on the link for even more straw men in addition to the video), but in one of the most…