Category: Critical Thinking

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro at the antivaccine "challenge."

Prove the scientific consensus and win a prize: A time-dishonored PR ploy used by cranks, quacks, and pseudoscientists (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. edition)

Last week, antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. teamed up with Robert De Niro to issued a challenge to provide one scientific study that proves thimerosal in vaccines is safe, with a cash prize of $100,000. They thus joined a long line of antivaxers, creationists, and climate science denialists offering money to "prove" the scientific consensus. Science doesn't work that way.

/ February 20, 2017
Tools required to examine the growing high quality chiropractic literature on efficacy.

Spinal Manipulation for Back and Neck Pain: Does It Work? Annotated.

Spinal Manipulation for Back and Neck Pain: Does It Work? You would think it does if you read the article but not if you actually read the literature.

/ February 17, 2017

Acupuncture’s Big Myth

The great acupuncture myth? No spoilers from me. Read the entry or skip to the penultimate paragraph to find out.

/ January 6, 2017
Alan Sokal

OHNOMOPOMO! Justifications and Unsolicited Advice

People who have a chronic debilitating disease often have to deal with well-meaning people suggesting that they try treatments that are unproven or outright quackery. Consideration of the Sokal hoax can help.

/ December 20, 2016

Milestones on the path to integrating quackery with medicine

The "integration" of quackery with real medicine occurring in academia and now private hospitals and practices didn't occur overnight. It began decades ago. Here, we examine what an advocate of "integrative medicine" views as key milestones on the path towards adding pseudoscience and quackery to your medicine.

/ November 21, 2016
Trump is OK with pseudoscience

“Donald Trump’s presidential election win stuns scientists”

Scientists in the U.S. and from around the world are weighing in on Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the most powerful country on earth: Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had . . . The consequences are going to be very, very severe. Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in...

/ November 10, 2016

In which we are accused of “polarization-based medicine”

A little over a month ago, I wrote about how proponents of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more frequently called “integrative medicine,” go to great lengths to claim nonpharmacological treatments for, well, just about anything as somehow being CAM or “integrative.” The example I used was a systematic review article published by several of the bigwigs at that government font of...

/ October 10, 2016

Building a Case for CAM

[Editor’s note: Mark Crislip is taking a well deserved vacation from blogging, and James Thomas has kindly agreed to provide another guest post to fill the gaping need left in all of your lives. Enjoy!] According to the Orwellian-named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, roughly 33% of adults aged 18-44 and about 37% aged 45-64 use some form of CAM....

/ August 19, 2016

Quackery: The 20 Million Dollar Duck

The publisher recently sent me a review copy of Quackery: The 20 Million Dollar Duck, by Tony Robertson. My first thought was “Do we really need another book on this subject? Don’t I know all this stuff already?” I was very pleasantly surprised. Robertson has ferreted out an impressive array of facts and details that I wasn’t aware of; and yes, we...

/ August 16, 2016

Statistics Done Wrong, And How To Do Better

Statistics is hard, often counterintuitive, and burdened with esoteric mathematical equations. Statistics classes can be boring and demanding; students might be tempted to call it “Sadistics.” Good statistics are essential to good research; unfortunately many scientists and even some statisticians are doing statistics wrong. Statistician Alex Reinhart has written a helpful book, Statistics Done Wrong: The Woefully Complete Guide, that every researcher...

/ August 2, 2016