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Off to NECSS

There will be no new material today and probably not Monday either. I’m in New York attending the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS). I’ll be giving a talk this afternoon, “Cancer Quackery and Fake News: Targeting the Most Vulnerable.” I’ll be back Tuesday or Wednesday.

There will be no new material today and probably not Monday either. After a 5+ hour delay due to weather last night, I finally made it to New York well after midnight. I’m here to attend the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS). I’ll be giving a talk in less than four hours, “Cancer Quackery and Fake News: Targeting the Most Vulnerable.” (I’ll also be on a couple of panels, one this afternoon and one on Sunday.) If you’re at the conference, stop by and say hi. If not, I’ll be back here dishing out the Insolence on either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how tired I am when I get back from NYC on Monday.

Oh, and did I say there’ll be a live stream of the conference?

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]

25 replies on “Off to NECSS”

Best wishes, Orac!

Our esteemed leader and other sceptics might be pleased with the serendipitous timing of their conference:
Friday and Saturday are ( drum roll) MANHATTANHENGE!!!!!
when the setting sun aligns perfectly between the towering, monolithic dolmens of highrise buildings ( the so-called ‘canyons of NY’); it is easily viewed on 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets, looking west over the industrial plains of NJ. Sunset around 8.20.
-btw- people who lived/ worked/ went to school in Manhattan knew about this LONG before there was so much attention and creative naming of the phenomenon- it was more like, ” Did you get a photo of that sunset thing?”

Thanks for the heads up, Orac.
Will check in with the live-stream as time allows.
Good luck with your presentation and participation.
On a separate note and something you have no doubt already heard at the conference:
JFK, Jr.’s lawsuit seeking a temp. restraining order against the new NY law removing the religious vaccine exemption has been denied by the judge:
Junior will now have to show the court why this law is unconstitutional. I’m sure the judge will be more than willing to listen to his litany of anti-vaccine propaganda as his reasoning… just like the Cali judges listened to the same irrelevant blather during the SB277 challenges. /sarcasm
My wish would be the final ruling is to deny with prejudice and to assign payment of all costs to the plaintiffs and their lawyers… particularly their lawyers. Junior can afford it – he’s loaded what with his trust funds and all…
Looking forward to Dorit’s analysis of this in the coming days.

What an utter waste of a name and a fortune. Think of everything he could be doing to actually help kids…

Purely for the entertainment value:
I just found out a little more about why Del Bigtree went full anti-vax ( from the last two podcasts @ delbigtree**)-

— he was never vaccinated himself and never saw a doctor in his life ( and he’s 50?) PLUS his kids are unvaccinated
— he was interested in natural health but the show was more SBM
— he wanted to do anti-vax stories but was denied
— someone told him about vaccines causing broken bones ( vitamin D deficiency) NOT child abuse
— someone told him about Thompson at the CDC
— someone hooked him up with Andy who was working on a film about Thompson
— he describes a “come to Jesus moment” – when he asks the Lord if he should quit the show or not and Voila! the phone rings and it’s about meeting Andy
— he is not unbiased- he’s woo through and through
— he went to film school ( FILM SCHOOL!!!) and he surveys SBM

** there’s a lot there, I’m just writing down what sticks out most

someone told him about vaccines causing broken bones ( vitamin D deficiency) NOT child abuse

Ah, yes. Symptoms include the formation of hand-shaped hematomas.
That Bigtree lists this BS along other vaccine “injuries” says well how far deep the rabbit hole he went – there isn’t much any deeper.

I hope you get some sleep.

I guess you know that the FIT is not far from the last bit of the Highline, which now merges with the Hudson Yards development. My sister and I did that walk last month, and discovered a grocery store in Chelsea with normal prices. So we got a water bottle for a dollar, and not the three dollars being charged in Times Square (her choice of hotel because they like taking in a Broadway show).

I’d like to give a presentation at the NECSS 2020. How does one get an invitation to such a skeptic group-hug? Please advise. Also, hope this event inspires you to be more respectfully insolent (i.e., entertaining) henceforth.

NECSS participants may have experienced a moderate sized electrical blackout! It affected a large part of midtown Manhattan westside for several hours including the theatre district, Times Square and related tourism hubs: it disrupted JLo’s concert at MSG.
The conference venue may be a tad south of the area but possibly affected as well with traffic and general confusion.
Interestingly, it could have enhanced photos of Manhattanhenge because of the low lighting conditions.

Here’s some good news that I didn’t see until now…
(; NY Daily News)

The suit RFK jr and 55 anti-vax parents brought against NY State for eliminating the religious exemption was denied by a judge on Friday.
So who will they sue next?

RFK jr: ” Reality and Science themselves conspired against us, so I’m taking them to court!
Please donate to my org!”

If there’s a non-streaming version that we can watch at a later time, I’d love the link!

I should add that the “Download” button is a pull down menu where you can choose the quality of the mp3 file.

Sorry, that was just two of several that were broadcast in the series:

They do have download buttons for a few of the programs. The BBC can be frustrating, but I generally just go to the Discover page where they post some of their broadcasted programs like “Rutherford and Fry” and “The Life Scientific.”

The Atlantic magazine online just ran an article on “helminth therapy” for autism (drinking a cocktail of parasitic worms that apparently don’t infect the patient but do “something” and then get passed in the stool):

The article appears sympathetic and includes some anecdotal cases that appear to have improved. It mentioned a bunch of doctors who are ambivalent to positive about all this, and have institutional affiliations, including some that appear impressive.

Needless to say this got the yellow light blinking on my switchboard. Alt med, human microbiome, inflammation and more inflammation, desperate families struggling against all odds: it’s got all the ingredients. Hypothesis (a): “coincidences abound,” even more so when accompanied by power placebos and fervent wishes, and especially so if the power placebos are vaguely gross.

Anyone here care to check it out and let us know the BS quotient?

You can send letters to editors at: [email protected]

In other news, I’ve teamed up with a local design firm to produce a line of T-shirts and bumper stickers with pro-vax and SBM and related slogans and themes, some of which will be fairly mild and others very much in-your-face. We’ll also be doing politics (bet you can’t guess who we support for president;-). More about this when we’ve got something ready. Stay tuned.

I had a lab-mate who was considering joining a helminth study for MS about a decade ago. I don’t know if she ever got in (or if she changed her mind). But that was also a real clinical trial and we worked in an immunology lab, so she had plenty of “sanity check” resources.

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