Respectful Insolence

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A lot of medical specialties have throwaway newspapers/magazines that are supported by advertising and somehow mysteriously managed to show up for free in the mailboxes of their practitioners. In my case, I’ve found myself on the subscription list for such papers about oncology, but, given that I trained as a general surgeon. I’m Board-certified as…

There are times when supporting science-based health policy and opposing health policies that sound compassionate but are not are easily portrayed as though I’m opposing mom, apple pie, and the American flag. One such type of misguided policy that I’ve opposed is a category of bills that have been finding their way into state legislatures…

I come across antivaccine editorials all the time. Usually, some editor ignorant of the issues involved is duped by antivaccine arguments or succumbs to the annoying journalistic fallacy (with respect to science) of “telling both sides.” Either that, or the editor has antivaccine proclivities himself. Either way, the result is an op-ed by someone like…

Over the last decade that I’ve been at this blogging thing, I’ve come across some incredibly irresponsible quackery, but what I saw about a week and a half ago took the cake. I’m referring to practitioners of The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy, demonstrating a sense delusion that was as massive as the…

One of the most annoying phenomena when it comes to “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), which its advocates are more and more insistent on calling “integrative medicine” is how little the average doctor cares that pseudoscience is infiltrating medicine. The reason, of course, is that CAM advocates don’t like the “alternative” part of the term…

Not infrequently, I’m asked why it is that I do what I do. Why do I spend so many hours of my free time, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog (NSSSOB), to write my detailed analyses of various forms of quackery, analyses of scientific studies, and expressions of my dismay at the infiltration…

Every so often I come across something in the world of woo that catches my attention because it’s so completely batshit loony that it demands my attention, either for the sheer delusion on display or for the extreme cleverness with which the pseudoscience and conspiracy theories are woven together. No, this time, I’m not talking…

About a week ago, my good bud Steve Novella noted a tasty bit of silly pseudoscience finding its way around the usual places, such as Facebook, Twitter, and the like. It was one of those times where I smacked myself on the forehead (metaphorically speaking, of course) and asked, “How on earth did I miss…

As prolific as I am, I have actually slowed down. Long time readers know this, as I used to have a post up seven days a week and sometimes two or more in a day. These days, I’ve made it a rule that I don’t post on weekends (except if something really catches my eye…

I’ve been a bit of a bad, bad boy. Well, not exactly. Rather, I’ve just been a bit lazy and/or forgetful. I know, I know. How can the ultimate Tarial cell-fueled supercomputer in the neat, compact form of a Plexiglass-encased cube of multicolored blinking lights be lazy or forgetful? Maybe “lazy and forgetful” are the…

Homeopathy is quackery. There, I’ve fulfilled my normal requirement to start out all posts that I write having to do with homeopathy with a simple, declarative, and, most of all, true statement about what homeopathy is. I also like to mention briefly homeopathy’s two major “laws.” The first is the Law of Similars, a totally…

We all seek immortality in some way. Death has been a terror of nearly all since humans first started realizing that everybody dies. After all, no one wants to face the end of everything that one has been, is, and will be, so much so that a key feature of many religions is a belief…

Chiropractic “research” and autism

Leave it to my good buddy Mark Crislip over at the Society for Science-Based Medicine to have my back when I don’t have a lot of time for a detailed post. (Basically, I was being a good university and cancer center citizen last night, going out to dinner with a visiting professor, and I ended…

Regular readers will know that über-quack Mike Adams got himself into a bit of a pickle last week. Basically, he wrote a now-infamous post in which he likened scientists working on GMOs to Nazi scientists and pro-science bloggers refuting the sort of nonsensical fear mongering (from a scientific perspective) Adams and other anti-GMO activists like…

Just three days ago, I updated my ongoing series How “They” View “Us.” This time around, I used Mike Adams’ likening of various pro-science activists, including Steve Novella and myself, among others, to Nazis and compiling what appeared to be a hit list. In the process, I also discussed the antivaccine movement, in particular Age…

I came so close. Yes, when I read the latest target subject of this piece of Insolence to be bestowed upon you today, I came so close to resurrecting a certain undead Fuhrer who used to roam this blog on a regular basis chomping brains and inspiring horrible Nazi analogies. Indeed, it’s been at least…

A sweaty crowdfunded misfire of science

“Team aerobic” by Berner Kantonalturnfest 2010 (Utzenstorf, Bätterkinden, Kirchberg, Koppigen). Original uploader was Equilibrium suisse at de.wikipedia – Transferred from de.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Boteas using CommonsHelper. (Original text: http://www.ktf2010.ch). Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-de via Wikimedia Commons. Few people know better than I that times are tough in the world of biomedical research. It’s been…

If there’s one characteristic of supporters of dubious medicine, it’s that they detest criticism. Whereas your average skeptic might not like criticism—sensitivity to criticism being a human trait and all—science- and evidence-based criticism tends to drive dubious medical practitioners (and, I might add, promoters of various other forms of woo) into paroxysms of anger. Not…

Only really long time readers will remember this, but back in the day (June 2005, to be exact), I discovered Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his antivaccine nuttery when he published his epically bad piece of antivaccine conspiracy mongering, Deadly Immunity, both in Salon.com and Rolling Stone (the latter of which doubled down on it…

Ever since I started paying attention to quackery, in particular quackery used on autistic children, I’ve come across some bizarre articles. Of course, the vast majority of autism quackery is related to antivaccine beliefs and the need to “detoxify” autistic children from whatever toxins or mercury antivaccinationists think caused their children’s autism. If only it…

Of all the alternative medical systems out there, chiropractic is one of the oddest. Unlike many of the others, it has a modicum of plausibility, at least for back problems due to musculoskeletal strains. After all, the science-based specialty of physical therapy uses spinal manipulation to treat back problems. Of course, the big difference between…

Ever since I first became aware of the antivaccine movement more than ten years ago, I’ve had little choice but to periodically pay attention to one of the godfathers of the antivaccine movement, Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield is the quack whose dubious case series that The Lancet foolishly published in 1998 launched a million antivaccine quacks.…

And they say I’m in it for the money?

One of the most common criticisms launched at defenders of science-based medicine by believers in pseudoscience and quackery is that we are “pharma shills.” The assumption, or so it would seem, is that no one would defend science, reason, and medicine unless he were paid off by pharmaceutical, chemical, and/or agricultural companies. The further assumption…

After having returned from TAM, I was pumped up by how much interest was shown in the case of Stanislaw Burzynski. More importantly, I was heartened to learn while I was there that the Texas Medical Board had submitted an amended complaint against him containing 202 pages worth of charges. Sure, the descriptions of the…

There’s a point I feel that I have have to make briefly as I begin this post. Basically, this might look familiar, but given that I was at TAM Wednesday through Sunday, I didn’t have time to produce two separate posts, and this is important enough to be distributed as widely as possible. In any…