Tag: evolution

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 issue 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
When Dr. Oz met Donald Trump: Somehow this photo just seemed appropriate for this post.

Medical science policy in the U.S. under Donald Trump

The election of Donald Trump was unexpected. Given Trump's history of antivaccine beliefs and conspiracy theories, coupled with a fervor for deregulation (a fervor shared by the Republican Congress), it is reasonable to fear what will happen to medical science policy during the next four years.

/ November 14, 2016

No, Purell Does Not Breed Super-Anything

Recently, I was sitting in a meeting and reached for the dispenser of Purell hand sanitizer sitting on the conference room table. A colleague of mine gave a small, rueful shake of her head to the person on her other side. Apparently I had erred. I asked what was the matter, and got a brief answer to the effect of “because superbugs.”...

/ November 28, 2015
Red flags

Hostility towards scientific consensus: A red flag identifying a crank or quack

Deniers of well-established science, such as the anthropogenic climate change, the theory of evolution, and vaccine science, frequently attack the scientific consensus. Some go farther and attack the very concept of a scientific consensus. When you see such attacks, you know you're dealing with a crank or, in the case of medicine, a quack.

/ December 15, 2014

Selective pressures on alternative medicine

(Editor’s note: I was away at Skepticon over the weekend, where I gave a talk entitled “The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine”. (When the talk’s up on YouTube, I’ll provide a link, of course.) Because of all the fun and travel delays I didn’t get a chance to turn my slides and notes into a blog post yet. Also, I’m on vacation...

/ November 24, 2014
Lab Rat

Animal rights activism: Petitions aren’t science

Those who hold positions contrary to what science tells us frequently challenge defenders of science to a "debate," seemingly believing that all truth can be arrived at by staged debates. Such debates are almost alway biased toward the person defending pseudoscience and rarely fruitful. In a public forum, rhetoric frequently trumps science. If a scientist accepting such a challenge is not a...

/ February 3, 2014

It’s a part of my paleo fantasy, it’s a part of my paleo dream

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have to be either the naturalistic fallacy (i.e.,...

/ March 18, 2013

Thumbthing Worth Reading

I intended to read Sam Kean’s new book The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Written by our Genetic Code  just for fun. I was expecting a miscellany of trivia loosely gathered around the theme of DNA. But I found something much more worthwhile that I thought merited a book review to bring it to the attention...

/ October 2, 2012

Evolution in Medicine

A recent series of article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) discusses the role of evolutionary biology in modern medicine. The authors collectively make a forceful point – medicine is an applied science. It is based upon a number of basic sciences, and one of those basic sciences is evolution. The most obvious example is bacterial antibiotic resistance....

/ January 27, 2010

Could Francis Collins’ Faith Create Conflicts For His Potential Directorship of NIH?

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is probably best known for his leadership of the Human Genome Project, though his discoveries of the Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s, and Neurofibromatosis genes are also extraordinary accomplishments. Dr. Collins is a world-renowned scientist and geneticist, and also a committed Christian. In his recent best-selling book, The Language Of God, Dr. Collins attempts to harmonize his commitment to both...

/ July 2, 2009