Category: Science and the Media

Quoth quacks, “The medical consensus has changed before, making my quackery science!”

Brave maverick doctors (i.e., quacks) have long tried to portray themselves as "innovators" challenging an ossified medical consensus for the good of patients. This tradition continues among COVID-19 quacks, in particular the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance and its founders.

/ August 28, 2023

Examining COVID-19 misinformation propagated by US physicians

A new paper documents COVID-19 medical misinformation shared by US physicians on social media

/ August 17, 2023
Neko Health whole body scans

The return of marketing hype for “whole body scans”…now with AI!

Two decades ago, I cut my skeptical teeth countering advertising for whole body scans by companies making extravagant promises for their products. This particular medical fad faded for a while, but now it's back with a vengeance...with AI! Looking at these products, what I see is basically the quackery that is functional medicine on steroids and powered by AI.

/ July 10, 2023
Debate

RFK Jr. and Joe Rogan: Putting the old denialist technique of bad faith “Debate me, bro!” challenges on steroids

Joe Rogan conveyed a challenge by antivax crank turned Presidential candidate RFK Jr. to vaccine scientist Dr. Peter Hotez to "debate me, bro!" In the week since, wealthy right wingers have added money to the inducement, and through an awful op-ed by Ross Douthat this weekend, even the New York Times has amped up the pressure for a "debate" about vaccines with...

/ June 26, 2023
RFK Jr. no saline placebo

Is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. antivaccine? Judge him by his own words!

Last week, an antivaxxer on Substack—where else?—tried to argue that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not antivaccine by encouraging you to judge him by his own words. I agree. You should judge RFK Jr. by his own words, as they show definitively that he has been antivaccine since at least 2005.

/ June 12, 2023

“Subscription science”: Physician-influencers, social media, and conflicts of interest

Antivaccine activists and quacks often weaponize legitimate concerns about industry conflicts of interest in medicine into the "shill gambit," in which they accuse critics and defenders of science-based medicine of being in the pay of big pharma. However, the rise of physician-influencers and, in particular, Substack show that not all conflicts of interest are from industry or even financial.

/ May 15, 2023

Detransition, Retransition, and What Everyone Gets Wrong

A article published in The Atlantic implored people to take detransitioners seriously but did so by perpetuating non-evidence-based tropes that harm both detransitioners and transgender people

Study flow

Retracted papers about COVID-19 are more highly cited than they should be

Earlier this month a study showed that papers about COVID-19 that are retracted tend to be cited far more than average and continue to be heavily cited after retraction. Clearly, scientific publishing and the scientific community need to do better.

/ May 1, 2023
Consensus

Why antivaxxers reject the concept of scientific consensus as a “manufactured construct”

Neil deGrasse Tyson invoked the concept of a scientific consensus while supporting vaccines in his debate with Del Bigtree. Why was his statement about how "individual scientists don't matter" compared to scientific consensus so triggering to antivaxxers? Why do antivaxxers reject the very concept of a scientific consensus and promote a hyper-individualistic view of how science should be conducted?

/ April 17, 2023
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Del Bigtree

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes the unforced error of “debating” antivax propagandist Del Bigtree on The Highwire

Last week, astrophysicist and famed science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared on The Highwire, an antivax video podcast, to "debate" its host, antivax propagandist Del Bigtree. This incident demonstrates quite well why it is almost never a good idea for a scientist to agree to "debate" science deniers.

/ April 10, 2023