Pseudoscience

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Pseudoscience

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…

Andrew Wakefield’s back, and he’s sure trying to come back big. I knew when I last wrote about his utter humiliation and disrepute that he wouldn’t stay away for long. In fact, he stayed away longer than I thought–a whole three months. Unfortunately, though, he appears to be on a full media blitz to try…

Every so often, I hear the complaint from some readers, usually in the context of complaining about my posting style on issues I care a lot about, such as countering the anti-vaccine movement or pseudoscientific alt-med modalities, that I’m just “preaching to the converted” and not changing any minds. While there may be some element…

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time longer than a few weeks knows what I think of Deepak Chopra. Indeed, he’s been a recurring topic here since the very beginning (just type his name into the search box for this blog if you don’t believe me). In fact, Chopra has “distinguished”…

If there’s one thing that has irritated me (one might even say, irritated me enough to start this blog), it’s ideology or religion trumping science. Perhaps the most annoying form of this disease is the tendency of the right wing whackosphere to do everything and anything it can to distort and twist science to agree…

The danger of science denialism

Although this blog is not the Denialism Blog, there is no doubt that one of the overarching themes of Respectful Insolence has been, since its very beginning, combatting science denial. Go back to the very beginning and read a couple of my earliest posts, dating way back to 2004. In one of them I discussed…

Michael Specter, author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, on the danger of science denial: He also wrote an editorial to go along with it. Given that combatting science denialism, be it the anti-vaccine movement, the “alt-med” movement, or “intelligent design” creationism, maybe I’ll comment further…

The return of the living Choprawoo

With all the anti-vaccine nonsense going on and my feeling the obligation to fire a broadside at “America’s doctor,” there was a tasty bit of woo that totally escaped my attention from an old “friend” of the blog. Actually, he’s an old “friend” of many skeptical blogs, both here on ScienceBlogs and around the blogosphere.…

Believe it or not, there was once a time when Dr. Mehmet Oz didn’t bother me that much. At least, for all his flirting with woo, I never quite thought that he had completely gone over to the Dark Side. Although I probably knew deep down that I was fooling myself. Maybe it was because…

Area 51 veterans speak: No space aliens

One of the most persistent and prevalent examples of a modern myth that will not die is the story of Area 51. So ingrained in our culture has it become that nearly everyone (at least in the U.S.) knows what you are talking about when you refer to it. It’s been featured in movies as…