Pseudoscience

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Pseudoscience

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…

Richard Dawkins sues Josh Timonen

Wow. Just wow. I realize that I haven’t exactly been enamored of Richard Dawkins lately, at least not as much as I was, say, three or four years ago. Most of this came about gradually, although the final nail was driven into the proverbial coffin last fall, when Atheist Alliance International bestowed the Richard Dawkins…

The economic argument against woo…

Yesterday was a travel day, which means I was too exhausted to grind out a piece of peerless logorrheic prose full of Insolence, Respectful, not-so-Respectful, or both. Fortunately, readers sent me something rather amusing that is also timely given some of the conversations we had at the Lorne Trottier Symposium Monday and Tuesday, where questions…

At the risk of once again irritating long time readers who’ve hear me say this before, I can’t resist pointing out that, of all the various forms of “alternative medicine” other than herbal medicines (many of which are drugs, just adulterated, impure drugs), acupuncture was the one treatment that, or so I thought, might actually…

There’s so much horrible reporting on vaccines and the whole manufactroversy that promulgates the myth that vaccines somehow cause autism through a combination of confusing correlation with causation, bad science, quackery, and misrepresenting autism that it’s gotten harder for me to be sufficiently irritated to write about it. When I see yet another another example…

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about cell phones and the scientifically highly implausible claim that radio waves from cellular telephones can lead to brain cancer and other health problems. For example, two years ago, when the then director of the respected University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman issued a warning…

A couple of days ago, I expressed my amusement at an e-mail sent to me by someone named “Carol.” The amusement came primarily from the subject matter in the e-mail, which described something called a “biophoton ionizer,” whatever that is. Knowing, as I do, how prevalent water woo is (after all, what is homeopathy but…

Funny how everything old is new again, isn’t it? Yes, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over nearly six years of blogging, it’s that, sooner or later, everything is recycled, and I do mean everything. At least, that was the thought going through my mind when I came across PZ’s discussion of a clueless wonder…

I don’t know if I need to get out the infamous paper bag or–even worse–the Doctor Doom mask out yet. As you may recall (if you are a long time reader, anyway) is that the mind-numbing stupidity of certain MDs has driven me to want to hide my face in utter shame at the embarrassment…

Damn! I knew I made my promise to myself not to write about vaccines again for at least a few days too soon! Whenever I do that, it seems, one of two things happens. Either something important happens that, having become, however it happened, the go-to blogger for commenting on the anti-vaccine movement, I can’t…

I don’t mean to beat up on Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick. I really don’t. I realize I rather harshly criticized him yesterday for being so hostile to the concept of “denialism,” to the point where he characterized even the use of the term as a means of “suppressing” free speech. Normally, that criticism would have been…

I’ve had a lot of fun thus far this week expressing more than a bit of schadenfreude over Andrew Wakefield’s being ignominiously stripped of his medical license in the U.K. by the General Medical Council, not to mention pointing out the quackfest that is Autism One, I feel the need for a brief break from…