Respectful Insolence

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I don’t know who Kent Sepkowitz is other than that he he’s an infectious disease specialist in New York and that he writes for Slate. I also know he’s written about penis enlargement, his dislike of magazines’ “best doctor” lists (a sentiment with which I can agree, actually), and that he has suggested that Americans…

A fungus among us in oncology?

I don’t much like Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com (formerly NewsTarget.com). Indeed, I haven’t yet been able to find a more blatant purveyor of the worst kind of quackery and paranoid anti-physician and anti-medicine conspiracy theories anywhere on the Internet, with the possible exception of Whale.to. However, Whale.to is so utterly, outrageously, incoherently full of not…

There’s no doubt about it: Stem cells are hot. Yes indeed, they’re not only hot, but they’re hip, they’re happenin‘, they’re right now, baby. Scientists are falling all over themselves with excitement at the potential applications that could potentially come from stem cell technology. True, no validated therapies for embryonic stem cells have yet made…

(NOTE ADDED 12/7/2010: Kim Tinkham has died of what was almost certainly metastatic breast cancer.) Cancer is scary. It’s very, very scary, even when it is a cancer that is treatable and potentially curable. It’s such a common disease that, by the time we reach a certain age, the vast majority of us have seen…

As we continue our countdown to having reached one full year of woo (namely, the one year anniversary of Your Friday Dose of Woo), it’s occurred to me that there’s one form of woo that I’ve dealt with before, but haven’t revisited. It’s a bit of woo that’s so monumentally silly that it’s hard to…

Dr. Robert Sears has to be one of the most irresponsible pediatricians on the face of the earth, if not the most irresponsible. Many of you might recall that a little more than a week ago “Dr. Bob” posted a borderline unhinged rant on Facebook aimed at his own patients, who, quite reasonably, were calling…

As I sat down to write this bit of Insolence, I had at least two ideas for what I thought would be informative, entertaining, and timely posts. I also didn’t want to have to write about Stanislaw Burzynski again after having just done so on Friday, having to note that the FDA caved, granting compassionate…

Remember our old buddy Eric Merola? He’s the guy who made two—count ‘em—two crappy, conspiracy-laden, misinformation-ridden, astonishingly bad bits of “great man” propaganda disguised as documentaries about a Houston cancer doctor peddling unproven cancer treatments and charging his patients tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being under his care…

Contrary to what you might think, the longer I do this blogging thing, it doesn’t necessarily get easier. The reason, of course, is that after more than nine years of near daily posts there are days when it’s really hard to come up with something that really gets me fired up to do the hard…

As I write this, 2013 is drawing to a close, with only a little more than 12 hours to go before the crowds now gathering at Times Square and elsewhere ring in 2014. For some of you, 2014 has already arrived or will arrive many hours before it does for me. I’m not normally one…

I fear that Sarah Hershberger is now doomed

I am afraid. I am afraid that the Amish girl with cancer whose parents’ battle to treat her with “natural” therapy instead of effective science-based chemotherapy has made international news, is doomed. It might take longer than doctors have estimated, but it seems inevitable now. I will explain. It’s hard to believe that it’s been…

It’s rare that my readers send me something that makes me laugh out loud, but this post did. I’ll give you a bit of background first, though. Lacking the science to back up their dangerous pseudoscience, antivaccine warriors tend to resort very early to ad hominem attacks. Apparently they figure that if they can discredit…

Every so often, I like to try to get into the mind of an antivaccine crank, a quack, or crank of another variety, because understanding what makes cranks tick (at least, as much as I can given that I’m not one) can be potentially very useful in my work trying to counter them. On the…

I never used to write much about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before. I still don’t do it that often. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t been on my radar very much. That seems to be changing, however. It’s not because I went seeking this issue out (although I must admit that I first became interested…

Sometimes blogging topics arise from the strangest places. It’s true. For instance, although references to how tobacco causes cancer and the decades long denialist campaign by tobacco companies are not infrequently referenced in my blogging (particularly from supporters of highly dubious studies alleging a link between cell phone radiation and cancer and the ham-handed misuse…

It’s been well over two weeks since I urged everyone to get out the popcorn and sit back to enjoy the internecine war going on over in the antivaccine movement. The reason for my chuckling was the way that everyone’s favorite Boy Wonder Reporter Propagandist for the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism, Jake Crosby,…

Remember Luc Montagnier? Sure, you do. He’s the Nobel Laureate whose identification of the virus that causes AIDS garnered him plaudits, laurels, and, of course, the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Unfortunately, since winning the Nobel Prize, from a scientific standpoint, Montagnier’s been on a downward spiral. Sadly, it didn’t take long after his Nobel acceptance…

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…

A one trick pony does his one trick

It’s funny, but it’s only been one week since I expressed extreme skepticism that that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post, had reformed itself. The reason, of course, was that HuffPo had announced that it was starting a science section. Even though on the surface it seemed that HuffPo was making the…

“Just one more thing”

I’ve written quite a bit about Steve Jobs’ battle with pancreatic cancer over the years and, more recently, in the wake of his death nearly four weeks ago. The reason, of course, is that the course of his cancer was of intense interest after it became public knowledge that he had cancer. In particular, what…

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…

I was debating what to blog about last night, and it wasn’t easy. We’re in the midst of yet another embarrassment of riches, as far as topics relevant to this blog go. Then I noticed something that I considered to be quite appropriate, given that we are now right in the middle of the yearly…

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…

There are times when I’m wrong again and again. No, I’m certainly not referring to my writings about vaccines which, as much as anti-vaccine loons like to claim they’re wrong, are not. Nor am I referring to my writings about “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) or “integrative medicine” (IM). While it’s possible that I’ve made…

Progress in science-based medicine depends upon human experimentation. Scientists can do the most fantastic translational research in the world, starting with elegant hypotheses, tested through in vitro and biochemical experiments, after which they are tested in animals. They can understand disease mechanisms to the individual amino acid level in a protein or nucleotide in a…