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Six years in the blogosphere…

Has it really been six years?

Six years ago today, on a dim and dreary Saturday in December, almost on a whim I sat down, went to Blogspot, and started up the first version of Respectful Insolence with an introductory post with the cliched title, Please allow me to introduce myself. Here it is, six years later. On this cold December Saturday, I still find it difficult to his blog is considered one of the “top” medical blogs by one measure, and some actually–shockingly–consider me somewhat of a “famous” skeptic. I know, I know, I still can’t wrap my head around the concept myself. At least, I appear to have become “famous” enough that I receive the invitation to speak on occasion, something I find very difficult to do because (1) until fairly recently I was terrified of public speaking and (2) my work schedule makes it very, very difficult to travel to anything but work-related meetings and, of course, TAM. As a consequence, you may have noticed that my blogging has become less manic than it has been at times. These days I sometimes even skip the odd weekday or two, something that would never–never–have happened back in the day. Yes, there are reasons for that, and you can expect the occurence of the odd skipped weekday to continue (in particular, next week, given that I have evening obligations on two nights). Fear not, however! I don’t plan on retiring the blogging laptop just yet.

Well, actually, I do plan on retiring it, but only to replace my current workhorse blogging laptop with a brand new spiffy 13″ MacBook Air ASAP. Mmmmm. MacBook Air…I can’t wait until it arrives. It makes my current MacBook Pro seem positively gargantuan by comparison, particularly when I have to lug my it around to surgical meetings, cancer meetings, and, of course, TAM. The coach sections of airplanes, in particular, are notoriously inhospitable to any but the tiniest laptops, and the MacBook Air has battery life that is considerably better than that of my trusty old MacBook Pro.

But I digress. Fanboy that I am, Apple products have that effect on me…

Looking back over my introductory post, I’m struck by how true I’ve stayed to most of the original topics I laid out all those years ago–at least for the most part. I can’t help but note that I don’t blog nearly as much about evolution and creationism as I used to three or four years ago. Given the heavy hitters in the blogosphere who make those topics their own, I guess I just don’t feel as though I need or want to do it as much. I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about the topic as they are, anyway. The same decline has happened regarding politics, but that’s simply because political bloggers are a dime a dozen, and you have to be either really, really good at writing about politics or really, really extreme to be heard over the cacophony. So purely political posts have become rare, albeit not nonexistent, here. Movies and science fiction and fantasy have also fallen (mostly) by the wayside, too. I have no idea why, but they just did. The same goes for Holocaust denial, although I do occasionally revisit that topic. I still feel as passionately as ever about it, but for some reason opportunities to write about it have become fewer. Maybe that’s a good thing.

No, I’ve clearly found my niche, and, in fact, I found it fairly early in my blogging “career.” Those niches are science-based medicine and discussing the interface of science-based medicine with non-science-based modalities, with special attention to the anti-vaccine movement and various forms of “alternative” medicine. And that niche is fine. One of these days, I ought to write a book. Oh, wait. A blogger writing a book. Is that another cliche?

In any case, I’m taking the rest of the weekend off. I’ll be back on Monday to start year seven. I don’t even know what the topic will be yet. Maybe Age of Autism or will supply me with one before tomorrow evening. They rarely let me down, and, even if they don’t, there is, sadly, plenty of woo out there that requires a dose of Insolence, Respectful or otherwise.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

73 replies on “Six years in the blogosphere…”

Many happy returns of the day! Lord Draconis asked me to send his best and get your feedback on this rather alarming article on Big Pharma from Vanity Fair (in your copious free time). Are the authors whistleblowing heroes? Conspiratorial nutjobs? A little of both?

By now, having earn bazillions from Big Pharma™, you should be retired on your own private Greek island with hordes of naked slaves(made submissive and mindless by them evil vaccines) satisfying your every desire. So why the feck are you continuing to pound out lightly edited versions of the mindless drivel from your Reptilian Overloads?


Congratulations, Orac! I came over here from Pharyngula three or four years ago, and immediately added your blog as a favorite of mine. Your writing on vaccines and science-based medicine sparked an interest in it for me, and I thank you.

As far as your writing a book, I would say that you could just take any random two weeks of your output and you’d have a damn good start. 😛

Congratulations and thank you for providing us with a fantastic blog. My own science education is lacking, yet I find this blog readable as well as a tremendous source of knowledge. Again, thanks.

Orac, I can forgive you your fanboi urge just as long as you carry on skewering the enemies of reason so accurately and entertainingly.

Happy Sixth Birthday!


And, if you wrote a book, I’d buy it. Or put it on my amazon wishlist and let someone else buy it for me (which is what has happened with 2 other bloggers’ books). 🙂

Congrats. The woo sellers shall be with us always, but I refer friends and family to your blog for reasoned snark.

The Geiers just opened an autism ‘treatment’ center in St. Peters, MO-I know they have many fans in the St. Louis area. Those of us who treat our autistic children with respect and science are glad someone like you cares.

Young Mr. Crosby, how are you grades this quarter? With the scholarship you have shown trying to stretch the truth past any form of reality, it should be interesting how well you do in science and history classes.

Congrats, o blinky box o’ insolence!

What’s the traditional 6th blogoversary gift for a box of blinking lights? RAM upgrade?

I’ve been on facebook for far too long today– I tried to “Like” Dana Hunter’s comment where she said she wants a book by you. 🙂 I’d buy it, too! Happy Blogbirthday!!!

Congrats Orac. This is one of the best science blogs out there and is always a pleasure to read.

I absolutely LOVE my macbook air. I had a Dell Mini 10v hackintoshed with Snow Leopard for about a year. I thought the air would not make a difference… But this thing is incredibly fast, and it is even thinner than my friend’s first gen macbook air. I can write for years on this thing… I hope you do too.

Congrats Orac. Thank you for all the great information. Even more, thanks for the insolence. You often liven up my morning.

A book? I’d love that, even if it did run a little long.

Six years of Respectful Insolence, fighting the good fight.

Thank you for all your hard work.

Oh yes, I would buy your book – in fact, several. I already have a gift list.

Congratulations Orac. Not being a medical person, I’ve learnt a lot reading your posts. Many more blogyears ahead!

Congrats Orac!

I also find it interesting (and heartening) that you have maintained your readership and reputation while keeping your post length as long as it needs to be to educated the reader and get your point across. ie, you have not succumbed to the twittering of the blogosphere.

Here’s to another 6 years!


Please allow me to introduce myself…
You’re indeed a man of wealth and taste
but we aren’t worried about the nature of your game.

no sympathy needed, just congratulations

You might have some history, congrats on that, but I can see through your fassade…. Of all the science blogs here your are the most egregious. You are not open to new POV no matter how much you say you are, real skeptics keep looking, you just look at Nature mag! I am leaving thoughts here in hopes to have a new perspective, but I can see the competition is just a lot of narcicisst bully’s. If you want to try to have a discussion without being an asshole, give me a shot,…. Otherwise, go fuck yourself and have a good day. If you think fluoride, GMO, vaccines, etc, are good for health, lol, i just feel sorry for you. I moved on a while ago (AFTER one minor degree in science; yes i can prove it).Idiots who want to dwell on grammer, keep doing that with your lattes on your couch, i will try to come up with UNDERLYING ideas. You can keep looking at little shit that does not matter! COMBAT IDEAS, NOT STYLE. Carry on……!

Oh. How interesting.
Your blog shares my birthday (and yes, I had a happy one). There is no significance to this, just coincidence, but coincidence is always interesting to the person it happens to.

Happy blorthday!

Ooh, wait. Blorthday. I like that. Dibs! I mean, copyright!

Oh, nebbermind…..

Congratulations Orac – here’s to many additional years of sanity-inducing blogging!

Happy blogiversary, Orac.

If you did write a book, I may have to decline to buy it unless your author name on the cover was also Orac. 🙂

(Yes, I know, intellectual property & all that…)

You are a dumbass. I don’t think your post had one sentence that wasn’t full of shit.

If you want your opinions to be listened to, back them up. No one is going to believe your crappy “fluoride and vaccines kill us all@!!!” arguments until you back them up. Which you haven’t. Mostly because you can’t. Stop crying. If you don’t feel like you’re getting the respect that you mistakenly think you deserve, go the fuck away.

Happy blogday, and many more!

After seeing quackery rear its ugly head in my family recently, your blog is a delightful breath of sanity. I was pleased to hear your seminar at the Trottier family. Keep up the good work.

Ah yes, another lovely “Noggin Explosion” there, an Anti-vax loon as well eh? Figures…

Congrats on the staying power Orac, I do love a good heaping helping of insolence, so keep it up for another 6!

Thanks for fighting the good fight, and keeping us up to date on the anti-vaxxer shenanigans! Thanks to you, I always have a ready response to the anti-vaxxers I meet irl.

And Happy Birthday blog!

Did anyone else pick up a Dave Dudley earworm from reading the title of Orac’s post?

“Six years in the blogosphere
and I’m a gonna make it home tonight

Here’s wishing you many more years of visiting quantum insolence on the woo-ful.

And speaking of quantum theory, I ran across a doozy of an example of it being used to justify woo. This one is from Stuart Hameroff, director of the “Center For Consciousness Studies” at the University of Arizona, who believes in life after death* and has the diagrams and graphs to support his groundbreaking ideas about consciousness:

“”Roger Penrose and I have developed a model in which quantum superposition, objective reduction and quantum computation occur in microtubule automata within brain neurons and glia. Microtubuleassociatedproteins (MAPs) provide feedback and “tune” the quantum oscillations; the proposed OR is thus selforganized (“orchestrated” objective reduction”Orch OR”)15-21. In the Orch OR model microtubule quantum computation is isolated from decoherence (Box 1) and continues until threshold is met (E=h/T) and an OR event occurs (Figure 2b). For example an OR event coinciding with one 40 Hz cycle (T = 25 msec) would require E = 2 x 1010 superposed tubulins (roughly 20,000 neurons).”

It’s a triumph of decoherence and objective proof! 20,000 neurons** say so!!!

Lionel Milgrom, the father of quantum homeopathy would be proud, and maybe jealous.

*He’s on speaking terms with Deepak Chopra! I’m jealous too.
**All of them apoptosed, but still…

Congrats on 6 years! I discovered your blog just in time to be faced with my younger sister’s new-found anti-vax position, and without your help, I would have been at a loss on how to challenge it. In a way, your posts helped improve my “immune system” to woo.

I’ve been reading a really illuminating book (Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, by Arthur Allen) about the history of vaccines and their controversies, and it’s really helped provide me with background – it’s amazing to see the Woo objections reflected in vaccines’ actual history – but the problems with vaccines in the 1800s are NOT the same as the challenges today.

In addition to your lifesaving work you do in your “day job” you do some really valuable brainsaving work on your blog, so thank you!

In the spring of 2006, I was shocked when a co-worker said she was considering not immunizing her young child for fear of autism. Googling around for some facts to assuage her fears, I happened upon your blog, and I’ve been a regular reader ever since. Thanks for your efforts all these years, stomping out ignorance wherever you find it.

AFTER one minor degree in science; yes i can prove it

No need to prove it. I have no doubt whatsoever that it was minor.

Thank you for sticking with Respectful Insolence, Orac. If you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

Congrats Orac! Looking forward to another 6 years of organized medicines’ zealous groupthink, self-aggrandizement and medical misinformation all in the name of the religion called “science-based medicine”.


And looking forward to more of your laughable, insipid, inane, insinuative, ad hominem idiotic comments in the name of alt-medicine!!

It will be worth a great laugh to see them!

If memory serves, I believe the proper 6th blogiversary gift is a new “ESC” key. RAM upgrades are the 10th, methinks.

Congratulations and blog on!!! 🙂


Ok who exposed augustine to water and sunlight at the same time? He’s multiplying.

Wow, “organized” is now an insult (as in “organized medicine”).

What imaginative sneers will the alties come up with next? “You’re…you’re disciplined.”


@ Dangerous Bacon : Another insult I’ve heard invokes the “cult of the professional” yielding,” You…you.. *professional*, you!”

“Wow, “organized” is now an insult”

When “elite” became a bad thing, I knew we were in for a helluva ride.

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