Respectful Insolence

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One of the major differences between science-based medicine (SBM) and alternative medicine—or, as they call it these days, “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine”—is that SBM is always questioning itself, always reevaluating its practices. Related to this difference is that SBM does change its practice, discarding treatments that don’t work and incorporating those…

Naturopathy is quackery. There, I said it. Actually, I’ve said it many times before, because it is. The problem with naturopathy, of course, is that it is so diffuse and encompasses so many different forms of quackery that it’s hard to categorize. Basically, it’s anything that can be portrayed as “natural,” be it traditional Chinese…

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…

Believe it or not, I’m going to do Eric Merola (who doesn’t particularly like me, to the point of thinking, apparently, that I’m a white supremacist who doesn’t like evidence but does like to eat puppies) a favor. Having been away at TAM, somehow I missed this. Well, actually, I didn’t miss it, but somehow…

A little more than a week ago, I took note of Dr. Paul Offit’s new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine and a story in which he was featured in USA Today about the nonsense that is alternative medicine. The news story coincided with the release of Paul…

I got a bit behind on my work yesterday, so I’ll be brief. Yesterday, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) announced its annual Pigasus Awards. Sadly, each and every year, there are far more “deserving” candidates than there are awards to give. However, this year marks something awesome, namely the first time the prize has…

Film producer Eric Merola seems to think that there is a conspiracy of skeptics (whom he calls The Skeptics) hell bent on harassing his hero, Brave Maverick Doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. According to his latest film Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2 (henceforth referred to as Burzynski II, to distinguish it from Merola’s first…

In the beginning, medicine was religion. Indeed, if you look at the history of medicine, you’ll see that the very first physicians were virtually always religious figures in addition to their roles as healers. Indeed, in ancient Egypt, for example, the professions of priest and healer were one, and most medicine involved incantations, invocations of…

Since I seem to be on a roll the last few days discussing cancer quackery, I thought I’d just go with it at least one more day. Frequently, when I get on these rolls laying down the Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, over antivaccine quackery I start whining about how I need to change topics,…

If there’s one thing that goes back to the very beginning of this blog (or at least it started in the first year), it’s having a bit of fun with Deepak Chopra. I realize that to some it might seem like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel. With a rocket launcher. On the other…

Let’s travel back in time fifteen years. It’s a time that, for me, at times seems as though it were just yesterday while at other times it seems like truly ancient history. Back then, certainly, I wasn’t the blogging powerhouse that I am today. I didn’t even know what blogging was because it was so…

It would appear that Dr. Bob Sears, author of The Vaccine Book, is in the news again. Specifically, he’s brought himself back into the spotlight by publishing in that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post, a fallacy-filled attack on a bill in California, AB 2109, designed to tighten up the process for…

Yesterday was a rough day for me; so I’ll be uncharacteristically brief today. As I’ve pointed out time and time again, these days, advocates of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) don’t like it so much anymore when their preferred quackery is referred to as “CAM.” Now the preferred term has–shall we say?–evolved to a happy…

For as many benefits as the Internet and the web have brought us in the last two decades, there are also significant downsides. I could go into all the societal changes brought about by the proliferation of this new technology, not the least of which (to me, at least) is the newfound ability of someone…

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’s a wonder no one ever thought of this before (at least, not to my knowledge), but Todd over at Harpocrates Speaks has. Over there today, what do we find? A Quacktion Figure™: Ever wanted to enjoy the adoration of tens of others? Had an idea for a new product to patent, but had pesky…

Well, I’m back. Grant frenzy is over (for now), and I have a couple of weeks before the next cycle begins again. Well, actually, it’s more than that. The next big NIH grant deadlines are in October and November, but the Susan G. Komen Foundation grant notices just showed up in my e-mail the other…

It’s been another rather rough week. Grant season is in full swing, and I’m busily writing away. As I get to the end of the week, I wondered: Should I be serious or should I post a bit of fluff? Given the crappy mood I’ve been in on and off (grants added to my usual…

Let’s face it, Dr. Andrew Weil is a rock star in the “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) movement. He is one of its founders, at least a founder of the its most modern iteration, and I am hard-pressed to think of anyone who did more in the early days of the…

I and others have often written about how “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative medicine” (IM) represent a “bait and switch.” The basic concept is that CAM/IM has co-opted several ostensibly science-based modalities, such as diet, exercise, relaxation, and the like. These are used as the bait by representing them as being somehow “alternative”…

As hard as it is for me to believe sometimes, I’ve been at this blogging biz a long time–well over six years now. However, I’ve been engaged, in one form or another, in combatting pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and crankery online since the late 1990s. Although I try hard not to fall into the same cognitive traps…

One theme that I keep revisiting again and again is not so much a question of the science behind medical therapies (although certainly I do discuss that issue arguably more than any other) but rather a question of why. Why is it that so many people cling so tenaciously to pseudoscience, quackery, and, frequently, conspiracy…

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,…

“Health freedom.” It’s a battle cry frequently used by supporters of “alternative” medicine against what they perceive to be persecution by the medical and scientific establishment that uses the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies charged with regulating pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, and medical devices in order to protect the…

Reiki is a “sin”?

Many are the times when I’ve pointed out that many “complementary and alternative medicine” CAM or “integrative medicine” (IM) modalities are very much more based on religion or mystical ideas akin to religion than on anything resembling science. I realize that my saying this is nothing new, but every so often I see something that…