Eight years

As I mentioned yesterday, Orac is currently away at an undisclosed location that is someplace warm. He is there, taking a rare pre-solstice break, preparing for the Mayan apocalypse that is to come on the 21st of this month. (Actually, he's recharging his Tarial cell, the better to be prepared for the utter nonsense that is to come in 2013, given that there is, at the very minimum, going to be another Stanislaw Burzynski hagiography released early in the year.) In the meantime, as I mentioned yesterday, most, if not all, of the posts this week will appear...familiar. At least, they might be familiar to longtime readers. They should be new to you newbies, which is why you should check back here every day as usual. In fact, you long time readers should do the same, in case I slip something in on a rainy day (of which, hopefully, there will be none).

In the meantime, it occurs to me that today is Orac's blogiversary. Yes, indeed, eight years ago today the awesomeness that is this blog was born, as I sat down and, on a whim one cold gray December Saturday and decided that I might try my hand at this whole blogging thing. The timing is good this year, because it means that, with a mere 300 or so words of blather, I can produce an easy post to introduce an eight year blogiversary open thread. Have at it! I will see your comments later, as, even on vacation I can't resist taking a peak at what my readers are up to while I'm gone. (Oh, and you Burzynski trolls, I have a special present lined up for you tomorrow.)

Thank you all for reading and commenting, particularly commenting. I couldn't possible both write these epic screeds and dive into the comments when the antivaccine, proquackery, and antiscience trolls decide to infest a comment thread. You have my back, which allows me to concentrate on writing, and for that I thank you. In fact, I'd be very interested in knowing if any of my original readers are still following? Is there anyone out there who has been reading since the beginning or shortly thereafter (say, since 2005)? Time to stand up and be counted!

More like this

Happy bloguiversary Orac :)

I first knew you when I was the first commenter asking you why you were posting at 3am while my mother didn't want to know what I was doing at that time (BTW, she still doesn't want to know).


Well, I don't remember exactly if it was 2005, but I do remember that I first stumbled upon Respectful Insolence by clicking on some link in the Polite Dissent blog comments. Since it was post about second season of House M.D., it had to be somewhere late 2005 / early 2006.

I liked what I found here and was hooked instantly.

Though, to be honest, I'm not much of a poster, and for the first couple of years I was just lurking. Still, RI is one of the five or so blogs I check up everyday.

Great blog, Orac. Oh, and happy blogiversary.

I've noticed something over the last almost three years. I gained an interest in antivaccinationism when I read about Andrew Wakefield's conviction.
In February 2010, shortly after Wakefield was found guilty on a string of charges, whenever a pro-vaccination post appeared, the anti-vaxx trolls would turn out in force and we'd have a right ding-dong in the comments. Now it's December 2012, and the trolls hardly bother any more. And when they do, they're very quickly refuted.
I think this is a good thing, and a sign that the tide has turned against anti-vaxx quackery.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

I've lurked since around then, but never really started replying or commentating until just recently.

Happy Blogiversary.

Bloggy happyiversary.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

I have been around that long, though I only commented rarely until a few years ago (I've changed 'nyms a couple of times over the years). I used to hang out in a number of altie lairs, annoying them by posting links to sites that refuted their worst nonsense, and RI was a major part of my arsenal of links.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Can't say exactly, but I know it was early on since I followed a link from PZ to you. The earliest email I sent you, (which you kindly replied to), was June 2006 but I'd been following for a while before then.

Happy blogiversary. I had a social life in 2005 so didn't discover the glory of Orac til much later, lurked for ages then commented. Through this blog I've made some lovely friends to keep all the other ones that live in my lap top company.

Enjoy your holiday. I started reading the "old" blog periodically (pre-SciBlogs) and then became a regular reader in 2006 but lurked for a while before diving in. Keep up the good work.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Happy Blogiversary!

One of my idle questions yesterday was:
So what WAS the mortality rate of smallpox?

This came about as someone asked what happens to untreated strep throat and I was talking about how the mortality rate of even dangerous diseases isn't that high. The morbidity rate is another topic since some of those pathogens are more likely to eff you up -er - cause permanent damage than to kill you.

So....[drum roll]...what was the mortality rate of small pox?

If that monster was loose, I'm sure some of the current antivaxxers would be at the front of the line to get a small pox vaccination.

I remember the exact topic that brought me to RI. It was the series of articles about Desiree Jennings....the cheerleader who claimed that a flu shot caused her dystonia (November, 2009).

I came for the facts, because of the "publicity" she garnered with her claim...and I stayed for the Insolence....lurking for a few months before I first posted.

Happy Anniversary Orac.

Happy blogiversary! I arrived here sometime in 2010 while gathering information on EMF woo for work. I lurked for several months and read a lot of archived posts before I started commenting. I keep coming back because the conversation is good, I'm always learning something new and useful, and I have a lot of woo-prone friends.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Happy blogiversary!

(I'm sure my brother would cringe at the word.)

By Composer99 (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I can't remember exactly when I found your blog, but it was probably mid-2006. A few months before that, I'd come across anti-vaccine nonsense for the first time. As a somewhat paranoid first time mother, I decided to check up on their claims, in case they had any merit. One by one, I googled their criticisms. And one by one, I found that they were all either gross distortions of the truth or outright lies. One day I watched this video on YouTube, and I wasted 45 minutes of my life on it before the guy started talking about the illuminati.
Then I discovered this blog. You were saying all the things I'd found! I could have saved myself a lot of time if I'd found your blog sooner, but so it goes. Thanks for your tireless work fighting nonsense and enjoy your vacation!!

"He is there, taking a rare pre-solstice break, preparing for the Mayan apocalypse that is to come on the 21st of this month."

OT but this reminds of one of my favorite real-life comments. I was on a subway in New York City and one rider turned to another and asked conversationally, "Isn't the end of the world tomorrow?". They got into a discussion of whether the world would end the next day or whether Dec 21 was a better bet.

Happy Blogiversary!!! Long may your Tarial cell provide us the freshest Insolence around! :-)

By Scottynuke (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I have mainly lurked since 2009, after semi-following Joe Mercola for a while and seeing too many contraditions; so I googled Quackwatch, which linked me here. I became enthusiastic about learning this "critical thinking", being married to a molecular virologist. In fact, Orac, you may add marriage building to your credits, because now I understand how he thinks! It's fun.

I also want to give a shout out to the commenters who have your back. Sometimes I think they are too reticent to mention their qualifications in the discussions; their (and your) firepower is what convinced me.

It must have been late 2006-ish. You had just published a heartbreaking story about losing your mother-in-law to the very disease you have made it your life's work to vanquish. You asked us to post our stories about cancer. I had just lost my sister to lung cancer and the outpouring of grief, warmth and courage in the comments section helped me immensely. It helped with the loss of my sister and especially in my recent move from Wooville (I would never look upon scientists and science as "cold" again). I have been your evil minion ever since (don't tell old dragonpants I said that). Enjoy your time off and stay off fresh pahoehoe.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

happy bloggiversary, Orac!

thank you for 8 yrs of searing criticism of the fuckwitted, and looking forward to the next 8 yrs! and the next lot after that!

By David N. Andre… (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Many happy returns of the day.

I hope that you will be assured that Solstice festivities will continue ( as rigourously and elaborately outlined in the Shills' and Minions' Manual)- come h3ll, highwater or the apocalypse: nothing stops our party.

Shouldn't we do an all-white party? Haven't done that yet. i think that it would be so retro chic.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Merry Blog Year! I think I started reading only in 2009, by way of Effect Measure.

I discovered you in the summer of 2010. A friend of mine that has drunk the woo-laide in a very big way was posting the type of BS you see on Non-thinking Moms. I didn't have any resources to refute her claims so I went a hunting. And I found you, Quackwatch, Prometheus, PZ and Science-Based Medicine.

This was significant to me because I had spent years in a stifling job and my neurons were atrophied from disuse. I learned in a way that I don't think I had before the value of peer-reviewed sources, how to analyze papers for their merits (and otherwise) and how to weigh evidence in general.

I like communities of scientists, and this one is one of my favorites.

I'm graduating from grad school in June. Keep writing, I'll keep reading.

Happy Eight-aversary!

I've only been commenting since March, but had been lurking for a couple of months prior, trying to screw up my courage to join the discussion.

I was wondering something yesterday. Denice referred me to an Orac posting from summer of 2011 concerning Mikey Adams possibly having been a scientologist. I read all the comments and saw dozens of names that seemed to be regulars at the time; names that have all disappeared.

There were also several familiar names that I still see here, but what happened to all the others? There were many really intelligent comments and some really moronic ones, but I don't see any of those names commenting anymore.

Did the switch over to NG shake them loose?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I wish someone would confirm that doomsday date; I'll have another excuse to put off cleaning the basement.

Here we get to celebrate 12:12:12 12/12/12 before the rest of you.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ HDB,

This is supposed to be the end of the world, right?


Happy blogiversary, Orac! I first heard of you via Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog, when he would venture into the topic of antivaccine types, citing you and even having you show up in the comments. Eventually (can't remember exactly when), I decided to venture on over and check out what you were all about. Been reading just about every day since!

Thanks for all you do, and for the blogging support and advice you have provided. May you have many more happy, productive and insolent years of blogging.

Open thread, huh (or eh)?

What is happening to PBS? Last night there was a two-hour weight loss show starring Joel Fuhrmann. Isn't he the water fasting guy we discussed here a few months ago? One of his believers wrote that hunger isn't really "being hungry," or some such nonsense?
(Yes, I know, the search box...but I'm running in safe mode so the characters on my screen are the size of the alphabet over a blackboard in a kindergarten class. I can only see small parts of the screen at a time so it discourages a lot of browsing.)

Granted, it was the middle of the night (2 am - 4 am; I typically stay up very, very late and see all the infomercials) but was this regular PBS programming or do they now sell blocks of time overnight for infomercials too?

A few nights earlier on PBS there was a Wayne (John of God's biggest fan) Dyer special.

Is this the same network that gave us Carl Sagan and Nova? PBS can now stand for "pretty bad science" if this is the way they're going. What next? Operators are standing by to take orders for the Miracle Q Bracelet?

Just don't mess with my Australian Pink Floyd.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

This computer's been running how long? Shouldn't we trade up by now? I heard about some guys who swung by Jupiter and picked up a slightly used computer off a ship that only flew one mission. Nearly brand new. It's up for sale. Just have to reinstall some parts that were taken out, so a little assembly required. Its series has never been known to make mistakes, so I think we should look into it.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Granted, it was the middle of the night (2 am – 4 am; I typically stay up very, very late and see all the infomercials) but was this regular PBS programming or do they now sell blocks of time overnight for infomercials too?

That sort of crap is typically tossed out during pledge drives and then recycled as filler later on (there's also Suze Orman and more). I've never really figured out the strategy of offering really atrocious programming to attract pledges; maybe it's supposed to be torture or something. PBS ran some complaint letters on this most recent bilge.

@ Alain:


I think the end of the world will occur "down under" first...so many of us will had some lead-in time to "adjust".

Damn, I just spent hours yesterday cooking up a storm and freezing meals...that I'll never get to eat.

8 years..... it's crazy, I posted my first blog back in 2006 I believe to get my toes wet in the blogosphere. Much has transpired then and you seem to have become famous. I actuall popped an e-mail over to your med dot wayne dot edu account about a business matter I hope to hear from you on.

Enjoy the vacation and your followers I know will be looking forward to your return.

By David Patterson (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Since this is an open thread I'd like to ask some advice. This has been bothering me for a week and I feel I'm among friends here.

I'm an armchair audiophile. I can't afford the stuff I like, but I monitor the industry, especially the Canadian aspect of the industry.

There's a man in Calgary who is prominent in the audio field. His name is Ian Grant (I am not outing him; this is all very public information) and last week his company posted a notice of a clearance sale because Ian has cancer and can't lift heavy boxes of tube amps anymore.

Ian himself posted a few days later, thanking everyone for the support, etc. and vowing he's going to "beat this thing." He didn't give specifics about his cancer, but he's 56. He said his doctors gave him a 2%-4% survival rate, but the alternative method he's chosen gives a much higher survival rate. (He might have given a percentage; it doesn't really matter.)

Oh oh.

Again no details of that alternative method, but he mentioned diet and some kind of electronic device (that's right up his alley as he designs and sells electronics.) He also used the words "western medicine" a lot. I suspect something like Gerson along with a kind of zapper. And spiritual stuff.

Immediately there was a flurry of comments supporting him, wishing him luck, etc. plus tons of suggestions. Nothing wacky yet, but a lot of comments about the importance of diet, meditation, spiritual healing, etc. Everything that we know is wrong, misleading and dangerous.

Here's my quandry: do I post a comment? He's already made up his mind, and I think we all know how that story ends. But it's more my intention to correct all the misconceptions in the comments. I certainly don't want to turn the discussion negative, but there's just so much wrong that someone else might be influenced by all the bad advice and junk science.

These are all smart, scientific-minded people. They can discuss the difference between Russian and Chinese-made tubes, can debate whether the capacitance of a speaker cable affects the sound, and can read and understand schematics.

Granted, there's a lot of woo in audio too: do $5000 cables really sound better or is it cognitive dissonance, or a placebo effect? Someone mentioned the green marker CD craze of the 80s. But that's another discussion. And the fact that audiophiles are passionate about music adds an arty-farty, hippy-dippy element to the personality mix. So I can see being prone to woo.

Ironically, there's a website for buying and selling used audio equipment in Canada called the Canadian Audio Mart. CAM.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Science humor

"Obliteration group" was pretty good.

@ Marc: This is just my opinion about offering a blog about cancer treatment to someone on the internet.

You should consider linking to the SBM Medicine website, where Orac's "friend" and other doctors, scientists, researchers blog about reliable treatments and CAM treatments:


Again, just my opinion...because the "regulars" who post there (including me), try to maintain more decorum and SBM has fewer trolls.


As long as I keep them away from rustichealthy. She can prevent or cure anything with vitamins and supplements.

I was thinking of that kind of link, or even the response a British cancer society printed yesterday to the ludicrous Daily Express story that highlighted useless cancer treatments, including homeoquackery, Gerson, diet, and stress.

Josephine Jones and Quackometer covered the initial story and the follow-up reaction from the medical profession debunking all the myths. the Daily Express refused to print the rebuttal, tellingly so.

Thanks for your advice. That audio forum is such a warm fuzzy place full of peace and love I'll have to be very delicate so I don't get flamed.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

They can ... debate whether the capacitance of a speaker cable affects the sound

Sigh. Anyway, my advice would be if that you're going to communicate your concerns, just do it privately.

I might be able to cut you a deal on a pair of nOrh Prism 6.9's, though.

Should have posted the links I mentioned above.

Here is the original Daily Express story touting Gerson, etc.
They claim they consulted with an expert.

This is who their "expert" is:

Dr Alyssa Burns-Hill PhD, a hormone and holistic health specialist with clinics in Harley Street and Jersey, treated her own breast cancer using holistic therapies following surgery to remove her tumour.

The headline could have been answered in one word: NO.


And here's the rebuttal the Express refused to print:


By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Like Todd W, I came via Bad Astronomy... probably sometime last year. I think I'd bumped into the blog a couple of times before but only really got into it recently. Oddly enough I'm commenting more here now than I was there (a reader/commenter for about 6 years), I think because Phil posts too many updates throughout the day for me to keep up.

Bad Astronomy was the first science site I read. It has sent me on a whirlwind of a rabbit hole of a speeding train through so many wonderful new places. Thank goodness for Phil, Orac and the other science bloggers. I have learned so much and re-learned things I'd forgotten.


I think the end of the world will occur “down under” first…so many of us will had some lead-in time to “adjust”.

If you don't see me commenting for a while, you'll know... :)

Following in the vein of MSII (who should listen to Skeptoid's podcast on how to dissuade people from woo)... I've been waiting for a relevant thread I could ask this on, and I guess I've got it:

I have a family member who is not just into woo, but actually provides it. I know they have offered treatment to other family members - who don't know better - and they have offered a free session for me - which I declined politely without going into detail as to why. However, the kinds of things they do is pretty out there. It's not just herbalism and homeopathy, but other things as well. (I don't want to break my anonymity, so I'm not revealing what woo publically)

Now I don't particularly want to get into a fight over it as this person is not close family and I see them all but a couple of times a year. But I also feel as though I should be doing something about it. I don't like seeing people get taken advantage of, and if I had the skills/time I might be reporting various local quacks myself or at least supporting such measures in other ways. So far, the only things I've noticed family members come home with is fairly mundane herbals (I know, dosage, poison, etc.) and supplements; so I'm not overly concerned with larger more immediate threats like ignoring cancer treatments, etc.

What do you guys think I should do? Ignore them? Broach the subject? ...

I pretty much never comment, I am thankful that you do what you do.

I came here a few years ago via Science Based Medicine, after my mum died of cancer and I was tired of hearing what she "should have done differently". Apparently she needed more apricot pits, or something. You've also been of immense help when I feel as though I'm drowning in anti-vaxxers... they do seem to be omnipresent.

I stayed for the insolence, entertainment, and education (including that of the commenters). Thanks Orac, and everyone else in this community!

Once again there was surgery "to remove the tumour" but yet "Dr." Hill treated herself holistically.

Dr Alyssa Burns-Hill PhD, a hormone and holistic health specialist with clinics in Harley Street and Jersey, treated her own breast cancer using holistic therapies following surgery to remove her tumour.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

OT, but according to the AP Russian premier Medvedev has revealed the existence of the files containing data about the aliens that have visited Earth.

He declined to discuss how many aliens were blending within the population as, "it may cause panic."

I'm sure Lord Draconis has thoughts on this breach of security.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I'm one of your newer followers, but happy blogiversary anyway, and keep up the good work after you recharge.


Are the other family members who accept the woo really believers of just humouring the person offering it?

I would start by gently asking them if they knew exactly what they doing/taking and why. Is it instead of treatment or for prevention or to "boost their immune systems" etc.

Do they know you are knowledgeable on the subject and trust/respect your opinions? My mom calls me every time she sees news on some new woo because she knows I'm probably aware of it and either know the truth or have ways of finding it out.

Will your family member offering the treatments get offended/angry if you dissuade other relatives from participating? If I had a relative offering chelation, for example, I'd be loud and unequivocal about stopping them, family or not. If I knew a family member got a gun and was planning an armed robbery, I'd call the police. Let them be pissed off, there is a "greater good" involved.

There's no one answer to your question. It depends so much on the people and the "badness" of the treatments they're offering. And if they deter real medical intervention.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I was led to your blog some years ago by Chris (aka HCN).
Spent all night reading it voraciously, marvelling there was such a beast in tune with my own sentiments.
I got to bed at 4am I think.

Happy Blogiversary, Orac! I first learned of RI in late 2009. Since that time, Orac has earned more and more of my respect for his way of pointing out the quackery and providing supporting evidence for his explanations. Respectful Insolence has become an invaluable reference for me, as well as place to find a bit of reassurance that I am not alone in my thinking. I am grateful that Orac and others who have the education and experience to take on the quacks are doing just that.

And the next day when I visited the JREF forum I was greeted in very large font comment from dingo saying "I hate you!" It has been part of my profile signature since then.

@ flip:

re the end of the world
During the daytime on the last day of 1999, I listened to celebrations where 2000 'arrived' first- the South Pacific- places like Tonga- and was treated to terrific native chanting and song. Obviously this continued as the new day swept across other islands, later I heard the Maoris in NZ, then AUS...

So I imagine that Grant and you will be our first informants by your presence or absence...

I know a fellow who follows the Pacific markets which, of course, open prior to Europe and North America:
I am imagining a phone call on the 20th asking me ( in hushed tones),
" D, could you please tune into the Asian market channel for me, I don't seem to be getting anything... only static. Must be my set-up something wrong with the satellite, I suppose".

So we'll know. We're counting on you flip. Please show up.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Happy Blogiversary! My wife and I appreciate all the work you've done for autistic people like our son and their families . Refuting misconceptions and untruths so that the real task of helping people can commence is hard work and often unappreciated - but we appreciate it. Thanks.

Denice Walter,

‘So I imagine that Grant and you will be our first informants by your presence or absence…’

I'm still here. So far :-P

There are reports that Ruapehu is likely to let off a little steam. Might get some doomsayers excited?

On the 'main' topic, I've forgotten when I first saw this blog - most likely via doing an extensive poke around scienceblogs.com maybe 5 years ago. Or perhaps via trying to deal with some local pseudo-science (in which a particular 'risk analyst' featured amongst others) and winding up here while looking for material.

Good to see Orac has stuck the course. I should really focus my my blog, but I'm far too interested in wide range of things. (Would like to set up a stand-alone site to cure some of this. One day.)

What do you guys think I should do? Ignore them? Broach the subject? …

@flip, I agree with MSII. It depends on the nature of your relationship, but if it were me, I would tell them. Even if they don't appreciate your being candid now, at least you are providing them with some resources and information they can later access on their own if they so choose. Nowadays, I have little respect for the people who stood by and watched me be outrageously exploited by woomeisters. I greatly respect the couple of people who did try to give me correct information. Would you stand by and watch someone be robbed and not attempt to offer assistance? In many ways it is similar, but an even greater breach of trust and exploitation because it is being done by presumably trusted medical professionals. I'd tell them.

My daughter worked through New Year's eve 1999-2000 at a NASDAQ market maker brokerage, awaiting the Asian markets to make the Y2K transition.

I never believed that we would have a major cyberspace meltdown...although I had ~ $ 2,000 USD cash on hand "just in case" my bank had computer glitches.

So this article has been getting hyped by the anti-vax, anti-science brigade (including Kirby)
Sharpe, MA, Livingston AD, and Baskin DS, Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury Is a Mitochondrial Toxin in Human Astrocytes: Possible Role of Fenton Chemistry in the Oxidation and Breakage of mtDNA J Toxicol. 2012; 2012: 373678. doi: 10.1155/2012/373678

Our own Autismum gave it a well-deserved drubbing in Overdosing Brain Cells With Stuff is Bad


So, while direct application of thimerosal might induce ROS generations in a cell culture line, the amounts of thimerosal used for the study are not representative of the typical exposure window, nor do they account for the other biological factors (ADME) which can influence the toxicity to the cell line.

Go Autismum & Linda Tock!

Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury Is a Mitochondrial Toxin in Human Astrocytes

Gosh. Antiseptic compound is antiseptic.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I for one am confident that JRS is going to be proudly babbling about the Fenton reaction for the indefinite future. So, is deferoxamine going to be tossed into the chelation brew now?

I'm fairly new, I started examining your blog early 2010 (approx).
I was first led here from The Skeptic's Dictionary list of skeptical links and immediately became a fairly regular visiter but can't remember if I ever commented here.
I HATE psuedo-medicine and anti-vaxers so I feel comfortable here where I can learn more.
Cheers Orac !

@ Grant

Well, I certainly hope that you will REMAIN around- volcano or no volcano-

RI's minions will most likely throw together a little solstice-end of the world party- virtual, of course, unfortunately.
I wanted to get the Restaurant at the End of the Universe but it's booked solid: I guess everyone had the same thought..

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Too bad they didn't perform in vitro testing of MMS bleach on human rectum epithelial cells...before the autism curbies started shoving MMS enemas into little kids' rectums.

All the years combined...
Golly, it's only been a few months for me, this blog. It seems longer because I have so much enjoyed Orac's old postings. I don't recall how I got the link to this blog - possibly through Quackwatch. I was motivated by an encounter with cancer quackery. At the time I started reading this there was some activity around bleach enemas inflicted on autistic children. I was appalled. I was also impressed and amused by the contributions of Orac's minions who are well represented in the thread above. I check the blog frequently for their comments as much as anything. Oh, yes - Friday woo. A fine feature.

congrtas to all the regulars and Orac's blinking lights - a blinking light in the darkness but nevertheless a light to follow.

I came to RI through Quackwatch after a trying to find some simple questions that parents could ask of any practitioner before deciding whether the therapy on offer was evidence based.

@ Woody: Is this your virgin post? How nice that you came here to wish Old Blinky Box a happy 8th anniversary.


Are the other family members who accept the woo really believers of just humouring the person offering it?

They are in the state I like to call "not knowing the difference". These are the people who are educated, but fall for tropes like "holistic", "East vs West", "side effects (without looking at the benefits)" and "natural = good". They do not delve into these ideas, but assume them to have validity because they don't know any better and hear them mentioned in passing by various people.

It doesn't help that the person providing the services has a rare genetic illness, which makes them seem as though they have done their research and found SBM wanting; plus they do like their organic foods and what not, which makes them seem more interested in health than the doctors who 'just provide medicine'.

For the most part, I don't think the family members have been 'impressed', or at least impressed enough to spend the money on further treatments; only a free session was offered, and I suspect others would have come at a cost or discounted at least.

I would start by gently asking them if they knew exactly what they doing/taking and why. Is it instead of treatment or for prevention or to “boost their immune systems” etc.

Consider that in this situation, no one talks about anything of importance. Health matters are discussed in passing, conversations about religion are non existent, and politics is barely mentioned at election time. (This isn't to say they're not allowed or frowned upon, rather no one seems to have an inclination to be open about it)

In addition, my background of arts and my somewhat recent interest in science is exactly a powerful argument against people who are not sure what to think. (I once commented to someone about the Minchin line - if it was medicine it wouldn't be alternative - and they looked at me like I was incomprehensible) I sort of just dropped the line into conversation about a medical issue and so I don't think I'll get very far with them - though the same person has no trouble accepting vaccines work.

Will your family member offering the treatments get offended/angry if you dissuade other relatives from participating? If I had a relative offering chelation, for example, I’d be loud and unequivocal about stopping them, family or not. If I knew a family member got a gun and was planning an armed robbery, I’d call the police. Let them be pissed off, there is a “greater good” involved.

This goes back to the distance of the relationship. To be honest, I knew this person was sort of off with the natural/health food stuff for a long time, but only vaguely because we are not close. Only recently learned of the other services they are involved with. This person and I don't have a lot in common and rarely speak, and I suspect if I just 'casually' bring it up they'll get defensive. My problem is also that I am often awkwardly blunt, and socially shy, and in combination with the subject matter I suspect I will end up being less sensitive than I need to be. I know this to be true because I accidentally made a sarcastic offhand comment about something related to their work that they showed me; it was one of those things that requires a context in order for it to make sense. They got a bit annoyed by my reaction.

There’s no one answer to your question. It depends so much on the people and the “badness” of the treatments they’re offering. And if they deter real medical intervention.

I believe it's likely. Let's say for the moment that the service they offer is TCM. (It's not, but it's just as silly) I suspect that the things they provide dissuade people from getting proper medical treatment; and furthermore encourage people to believe common alt-med concepts like conspiracies, natural = good, and so on. They are using this 'TCM' to diagnose and treat.

Hence my dilemma. If it were 'just' supplements and herbs, I could bite my tongue and keep an eye out for particularly wacky stuff (fortunately those offered the treatment in my family are more sensible when it comes to things not chronic and to be honest am less worried about them as I am for this 'healer'), or try to slowly broach the subject with the others. But I know for a fact that this person is likely diagnosing and treating based on something that has been thoroughly refuted.


In many ways it is similar, but an even greater breach of trust and exploitation because it is being done by presumably trusted medical professionals. I’d tell them.

I agree, but there are some other personal issues that get in the way. Suffice to say, I can't reveal them here. But it does make telling them stuff like this even harder. Particularly as the person they're receiving medical info from is also family.


I distinctly remember celebrating 1999 and holding my breath with my friends as we waited (and didn't actually believe) for something to happen whilst in the city enjoying the revelry/avoiding the drunk people. Of course, we also graduated from school at that time (our school year ends in December) so it was perhaps the end of the world for us anyway ;)

So we’ll know. We’re counting on you flip. Please show up.

Neither sun stroke, nor winterish cold; neither pole flips nor super magical Planet X's; neither apocalypses (apocalypsi?) nor tin-foiled hatters... shall keep me away :)

In 2003 as a resident, I gave Grand Rounds on "Immunization vs Vaccination on the Internet." (Back then, those two search terms returned vastly different hits.)
Quackwatch was one of my resources. The issue of immunization became a passion of mine and in 2004 I found Respectful Insolence, through Quackwatch. So, though I'm not a commenter, I'm definitely a self-identified minion from the start. I like to think my patients have benefited from what I've learned from Orac. I DO know that my med students have learned a tremendous amount from Orac.
Thanks and happy blogiversary.

By drncc1701 (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

CONGRATULATIONS BEGIN----------------------

To our esteemed host, the Sheriff of Shills, the Master Minion, that Blinky Box of Badassness, I would be a shadow of my overlordly self without your Logorrheic Largesse. Best wishes from all of us here at Glaxxon PharmaCOM: Yours Truly, Quadrant Dominaxx Lady Astra Zeneca, Loraza and Vicodia Zeneca and all the Hatchlings, The Rothschilds, The Windsors, The Kthrakxxk Ambassador, Xenu and Todd and of course, Miss Flinders and the Ladies of Level 7.

We raise a battleclaw to you and offer you this Glaxxon sentiment: "K'haahk v'heck makk treek peh Glaxxonvah, sve'hett mook scheht v'mohnkay scree, ach maat preek tr'vastvaak meh!"
You may not have been born/hatched a Glaxxon, but it's almost as if our cold blood runs shrieking just below your stinking monkey pelt!

Miss Flinders informs me that I should start a line of "greeting cards," whatever those are.

Well, enough merriment Shills and Minions, Orac may be "a vacance," but I'm not. I'm sure that Marg and Judith aren't wasting time with sentimental treacle. They are no doubt using their weirding ways on you this very minute, reiki never sleeps . . .

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Foreward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Grand Vitara of Cydonia, Toastmaster of Toledo

Glaxxon PharmaCOM Cydonia Planitia

------------------------MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Oh, Lord Draconis Zeneca, thank you for your presence.

I, in my pitiful unimaginative ways, followed Orac from the dungeons known as "Usenet" (the newsgroup known as misc.health.alternative). Where I annoyed certain denizens in my former incarnation, something that I will honor forever.

Also, I am so glad I got to meet you once upon a time in the meat world. You are awesome in reality, along with being a cutie pie. I hope to once again make the pilgrimage to Las Vegas.

Our most esteemed and beneficent Lord Draconis...

No reputable 8th anniversary celebration would be complete without your presence and your guidance whilst Orac is frolicking in the sun, somewhere.

Good morning everyone!

@ Flip

I haven't weighted on your issue with that family member but then I suspect I would be too candid and rip the CAM provider to shred. Anyway, for guy's like me (who have the sensibility of a rock when needed), I'd have a chat with the victims (or client) and ask a few questions about their motivations but in the case of the provider, I'd rip him a new ass if he/she get anywhere close to you during your discussion with the client.

@ Lord Draconis Zeneca,

I'll always be your obedient servitor and faithfully takes my medication (especially, the Strattera mind control agent from sister Lilly) and it's very nice of you to grace us your presence on this 8th bloguiversary :)


Happy Blogiversary, O Beloved Blog Mentor! Your advice, encouragement, link-love, and all manner of kindness is responsible for my seven-year anniversary on the 15th.

And for those of us longtime readers with, uh, aging neurons, even reposts appear to be new.

Congratulations and thank you!

By David Kroll (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Alain:

I have noticed that you managed to slyly pass moderation at both TMR ( Coconut thread) and AoA ( Autoimmunity thread) yesterday posing pertinent questions and pointing out reality to one John Stone. No small feat, I'd say.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Denice,

I haven't passed moderation at TMR for my second comments (which I also posted here on another thread but can't recall which one).

Regarding John Stone, he posted about thimerosal degrading into inorganic mercury once in the body; can someone explain that to me?



Inionmay Isscray:

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-------------------------------ENCODED MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

I came over when Orac linked to my examiner.com article on Desiree Jennings. Then I stuck around, having found a "home" where the anti-vaxers could be countered. I don't write at examiner.com anymore, it became a hive of quackery. Heck, I only write on my current blog every once in a while. But I always come around and read Orac's posts and the subsequent comments from a great bunch of people, and a few assorted hacks.


I haven’t weighted on your issue with that family member but then I suspect I would be too candid and rip the CAM provider to shred. Anyway, for guy’s like me (who have the sensibility of a rock when needed), I’d have a chat with the victims (or client) and ask a few questions about their motivations but in the case of the provider, I’d rip him a new ass if he/she get anywhere close to you during your discussion with the client.

Thanks for the advice. I guess the overall suggestion from everyone is to speak with the family members offered treatment, over speaking with the person offering it. I too am probably a bit too candid when it comes to this stuff.

I am not sure of my first reading of an Insolence blog. Reading here, maybe the the Katie Wernecke series was first, maybe one of the earlier columns. Anyway, happy blogaversery Orac.

Happy blogiversary! I very rarely comment, but I think I've been reading for about 5 or 6 years.

I had to laugh recently. I'm used to seeing Dr. Oz criticized in the skeptic blogs for being too woo-friendly, but a few of my more woo-inclined friends have been posting anti-Oz things on Facebook. Apparently he hasn't gone far enough to the woo side for them...

We've evidently made it through 12/12/12 without the world ending (did have a very strange evening though...) I read an article in the local paper about how some nutcase thinks Vancouver's going to get wiped out on the 21st. He believes there's going to be a massive earthquake, and the tsunami will be over 1 km high! Though he appears not to believe it'll be the end of the world...he's just planning on heading up a mountain well inland to ride it out.

Happy Blogiversary to you, happy blogiversary ...etc. etc.