Respectful Insolence

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As if yesterday’s post weren’t depressing enough, last weekend I attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, which is part of the reason I didn’t produce much in the way of posts about a week ago. Last Sunday, while aimlessly wandering from session to session and checking…

Here we go again. Two months ago, I noted that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, the Polish expatriate physician who started out as a legitimate medical researcher and then in the late 1970s took a turn away from science-based medicine and towards being a “brave maverick doctor” through his discovery in blood and urine of substances he…

The other day, I expressed my disappointment at how Samantha Bee of The Daily Show got the politics of antivaccinationism wrong in a segment that was funny, but promoted the stereotype of antivaccine activists as being mainly crunchy lefties. In that post, I mentioned how the Texas Republican Party had a plank in its platform…

I’ve discussed the evolution of “integrative” medicine on many occasions. To make the long story discussed over many posts short, medicine based on prescientific and/or unscientific ideas was once, appropriately, referred to as quackery, and those practicing it, appropriately, as quacks or charlatans—or other derogatory terms. Then, beginning sometime around the 1960s and 1970s, such…

Quacks really hate Wikipedia. It’s understandable, really. Wikipedia has some fairly tight standards regulating its form and content. Quacks, thinking that because anybody can edit Wikipedia articles it must mean that they can edit the entries on their favorite bit of woo to their hearts’ content in order to make it look more scientifically supported…

Not surprisingly, being a guy who leans mildly left, I like The Daily Show. Jon Stewart and his writers are incredibly adept at skewering all manner of bovine excrement, be it political, scientific, or otherwise. In particular, the way Stewart and company skewered the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) for its promotion of…

It’s always jarring when I go to a scientific meeting, in this case the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, imbibe the latest clinical science on cancer, and then check back to see what the quacks are doing. On the other hand, there was a session at this year’s ASCO on “integrative oncology” (stay…

I happen to be out of town right now, attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. It’s been a more—shall we say?—eventful trip than anticipated, which is why at my not-so-super-secret other blog we have a guest post today and here I will (probably) be shorter than usual. I’m…

Thanks again, antivaccine loons

I’m a bit torn today. On the one hand, it makes me cringe when pundits write inflammatory articles blaming Jenny McCarthy for measles outbreaks. Yes, I know that I once did the same thing myself, but, as much as antivaccinationists dislike me, I’ve actually toned it down a bit when it comes to that particular…

Being a cancer surgeon, I realize that my tendency is to view my blogging material through the prism of cancer, particularly breast cancer, my specialty. it’s easy to forget that there are diseases every bit as horrible, some arguably even more so than the worst cancer. When I think of such diseases, it’s not surprising…

Placebo effects in surgery

Although I’m a translational researcher, I’m also a surgeon. That was my first and primary training and only later did I decide to get my PhD during my residency, when the opportunity to do so with a decent stipend presented itself. From my perspective, clinical research in surgery is difficult, arguably more difficult than it…

Of all the clueless antivaccinationist out there, one stands out as being particularly dangerous to public health. That person is the antivaccine reporter whom I’ve periodically been forced to castigate ever since around 2007 when she laid down such a seethingly hot bit of napalm-grade antivaccine stupid that she grabbed my attention with her combination…

Regular readers might be wondering why my output was—shall we say?—less extensive last week than it usually is. I even skipped a weekday and then followed it up with a recycled post from my not-so-super-secret other blog, altered to be a bit more, yes, Insolent. The answer is a single word: Grants. I had a…

Pretty much everyone who’s gotten through junior high recognizes the line from the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet says, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, retain that dear perfection which he owes…

Well, it snuck up on me again, the way it has a tendency to do every year. Maybe it’s because Memorial Day is so early this year. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much work to do this week given the multiple grant deadlines. Whatever the case, it just dawned on my last night that…

May I just say something again? (Actually, it’s my blog; so I’ll say it if I want to regardless of whether you want me to or not.) You know that “hypothesis” that vaccines cause autism, the one that has been at the core of the modern antivaccine movement over the last 15 years or so?…

I hadn’t really planned on writing again about everyone’s favorite conspiracy theorist and promoter of quackery, Mike Adams, at least not so soon after the last time I did it, which was only last week after Adams appeared on Dr. Oz’s daytime television show to push his “laboratory.” Adams, as you might recall, goes by…

Create your own Insolence!

As seems to happen more frequently, Orac has had his attention wholly taken up by contemplating a black hole. (Actually, he’s at a medical conference on quality care in breast cancer.) Consequently, after a four and a half hour drive to the hotel, dinner out with the conference staff, and preparing for his talk, he…

Over the years, the criticism of “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) that I have repeated here and that I and others have repeated at my not-so-super-secret other blog is that its levels of evidence relegate basic science considerations to the lowest level evidence and elevate randomized clinical trial evidence to the highest rung, in essence fetishizing it…

America’s quack: Dr. Mehmet Oz

Sometimes, when you’re blogging, serendipity strikes. Sometimes this takes the form of having something appear related to something you just blogged about. Yesterday, I discussed one of the biggest supporters of quackery on the Internet, Mike Adams, a.k.a. the Health Ranger, proprietor of NaturalNews.com, one of the quackiest, if not the quackiest site, on the…

Alternative medicine as religion, again

Over the years, I’ve often likened alternative medicine to a religion—or even a cult. Basically, it requires belief in a set of precepts that have at best little and more commonly no evidence to support them that is often accompanied by magical thinking that a god-substitute, be it nature, one’s body, or, of course, the…

Besides yesterday being Mothers’ Day yesterday, I had a lot of grant stuff to do, which means that this one will be a quickie. On Saturday, a reader sent me a link to one of the most useful sites I’ve ever encountered. I realize that over the weekend it’s spread around the skeptical blogosphere like…

There’s a certain category of posts that I like to call (to myself, anyway) “taking care of business” posts. Usually, it’s a post about something that I missed the first time around but has, for some reason, reappeared on my radar screen or something that I wish I had written about when it first showed…

One of the themes of this blog since the very beginning of this blog is the threat to scientific medicine represented by a phenomenon that I like to call quackademic medicine. Although I did not coin the term, I frequently use the term and have done my best to popularize it among skeptics to describe…

If there’s a story I neglected to mention last week that I should have, it’s that Andrew Wakefield is being a bully again, trying to use legal intimidation to silence his critics, namely Forbes.com blogger Emily Willingham. Of course, Wakefield has done this so many times that the fact that he’s done it once again…