quackery

Respectful Insolence

Tag archives for quackery

Sometimes, as I sit down to write a blog post, I have no idea what I’m going to write about at first. Fortunately, it’s rare that I truly have zero idea what I’m going to write about. Usually, there are options, and I don’t know which one I’m going to pick. Sometimes, however, something happens…

I don’t know why I’m interested in this, to the point where I’m on my sixth post about it since February. I sometimes even ask myself that very question, because taking an admittedly somewhat perverse interest in the internecine feuds among antivaccinationists. Maybe it’s a bit of schadenfreude. Maybe it’s just me. Whatever the reason,…

I write about cancer quackery a lot, and I’ve been at it for over a decade. I first cut my teeth on Usenet, delving into that cesspit of unreason known as misc.health. alternative, where my eyes were opened to just the sorts of pseudoscientific and unscientific cancer treatments patients are enticed into trying, sometimes in…

Once again, real life, mainly the eternal search (i.e., groveling) for grant money to keep my lab going, interferes with unreal life. Three grant applications due the same week will do that. Hopefully this will be the last time for a while, at least until unreal life might interfere with unreal life in a couple…

Do you believe in magic in medicine?

Sometimes, between blogging, a demanding day (and night) job doing surgery and science, and everything else, I embarrass myself. Sure, sometimes I embarrass myself by saying something that, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t. More often, I embarrass myself by letting things slide that I shouldn’t. For instance, when friends send me a prepublication copy…

For a long time, going back almost to the beginning of this blog eight and a half years ago, I’ve referred to the “bait and switch” of alternative medicine. What I mean by that is the manner in which advocates of alternative medicine—or, as they like to call it these days, “complementary and alternative medicine”…

What’s Keith Kloor got that I haven’t got? What’s Laura Helmuth got that I haven’t got? Why won’t Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. call me to complain about all the not-so-Respectful Insolence I’ve directed his way over the years. I mean, seriously. I spend nearly eight years criticizing his antivaccine crank views, and these two get…

It’s just one more cut on the road to the proverbial death by a thousand cuts. I’m referring, unfortunately, to last week’s development in the state of Colorado. Specifically, I’m referring to the Colorado legislature’s truly boneheaded decision to license naturopaths, thus giving the imprimatur of the state to quackery and, in essence, legalizing a…

Just what I need: Cellular Feng Shui!

Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging, preventing the creation of fresh Insolence, at least Insolence of the quality that you’ve come to expect. This is one of those times. (Yes, it’s grant season.) So enjoy this bit of Classic Insolence from 2008 and be assured that I’ll be back tomorrow. Remember, if you’ve…

Not too long ago, a reader asked me about black salve, and then not too long later I saw a commenter mention black salve. It occurs to me that, in all the years I’ve been doing this blog and my other blog, I don’t think I’ve ever actually written about black salve, except in passing.…

Stem cells are magical, mystical things that can’t be explained. At least, if you listen to what docs and “practitioners” who run stem cell clinics in various parts of the world, usually where regulation is lax and money from First World clientele is much sought after, that’s what you could easily come to believe. Unfortunately,…

Well, April is over, which means that Autism Awareness Month is almost over. While antivaccinationists are saying goodbye to April and whining about the very concept of “autism awareness,” I can’t help but realize that the autism quackfest known as AutismOne is less than a month away. Yes, every year around Memorial Day weekend, the…

I’ve written about naturopathy many times before. The reasons that it interests me are several. First, it amazes me how anyone “discipline” (if you want to call it that) can encompass so many forms of quackery, some of which are mutually contradictory. (For instance, how can homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine both be true?) Also,…

I want to thank Dan Olmsted, the editor of Age of Autism. I think. Why do I say this? After all, Olmsted is the managing editor of perhaps the most wretched hive of antivaccine scum and quackery that I am aware of. However, he’s actually done me a favor. You see, the other day, the…

I guess that the antivaccinationists didn’t listen to me last time when I suggested that maybe—just maybe—using Holocaust analogies when discussing autism and vaccines is just a wee bit inappropriate, such an overblown analogy that it spreads far more heat than light. At least, Kent Heckenlively didn’t, and, because his invocation of the Nazi card…

It’s very clear that many antivaccinationists hate autistic children. The language they use to describe them makes that very clear. Such children are “damaged” (by vaccines, of course); the parents’ real children were “stolen” from them (by vaccines); they are “toxic” (from vaccines); the “light left their eyes” (due to vaccines). Autism is an “epidemic,”…

Who can quack the loudest?

Over the years this blog’s been in existence, I’ve fallen into a habit in which I tend to like to finish off the week taking on a bit of science (well, usually pseudoscience) that is either really out there, really funny, or in general not as heavy as, for example, writing about someone like Stanislaw…

Last week, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study that did a pretty good job of demolishing a favorite antivaccine trope used to frighten parents. In fact, it’s one of the most effective of antivaccine tropes, as evidenced by a large number of parents who are generally pro-vaccine expressing doubts when asked about this particular…

It’s been less than a week since I wrote about Stanislaw Burzynski. In fact, as hard as it is to believe, I’ve been trying not to. Obviously, I’m failing, but what can I say? Things keep happening. In particular, there’s Eric Merola. You remember Eric Merola? He’s the producer of a propaganda film extolling the…

When I wrote about the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) trial last week, little did I suspect that I would be revisiting the topic again so soon. For those of you not familiar with TACT, it was a trial designed to test a favorite quack treatment for cardiovascular disease, chelation therapy. It is, as…

I don’t always blog about stories or studies that interest me right away. Part of the reason is something I’ve learned over the last eight years of blogging, namely that, while it’s great to be the firstest with the mostest, I’d rather be the blogger with the mostest than the firstest. I’ve learned this from…

The “myth” of placebo effects

Heidi Stevenson amuses me. The reasons are legion. Be it the time when Heidi lectured scientists on anecdotal evidence (which she values far more highly than scientists, of course, declaring it the “basis of all knowledge”); launched a vile and nonsensical attack on Stephen Barrett; argued against prior plausibility with using a straw man argument…

I’m running out of popcorn again. I know I’ve been writing a lot about the latest internecine war among cranks. It’s a battle royale whose first shot occurred when everybody’s favorite Boy Wonder “reporter” betrayed his mentors with a missive published on a hive of scum and quackery even more wretched that the hive of…

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,…

Yesterday, I wrote about how “they” view “us,” the “they” being believers in dubious medicine, pseudoscience, and outright quackery. As examples, I used believers in the unsupported claims of “brave maverick” cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski and antivaccine activists who are utterly convinced, against all science and evidence, that vaccines caused their children’s autism. I pointed…