I’d like all of you to get comfortable. Have a seat, open up a brewski (if that’s your thing) or a glass of wine (ditto) or your morning coffee and sit back and relax. This post will be vulgar; it will be raw; and most of all, it will more than likely piss off people on all sides of the argument. Likely, some people will never speak to me again. That’s fine; I’m ok with that. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Besides, it lets me know who of you out there are truly my friends and those who just pay lip service (hey look…flowers!)
When we write online, we all use personas. Those who read our blogs or articles or whatever expect to see certain things from the person writing. In Orac’s case, his readers expect to see insolence and snark as well as biased scientific discussions. With Kim Wombles, her readers expect to read about community and acceptance while she calls the kettle black. With me, I’d like to think that many of you expect my usual dry wit, my sarcastic humor, and for me to point out and laugh at the false skeptics and hypocritical science poseurs.
Today, I’m putting aside that persona. I’d like all of you to imagine me sitting there with you, this big, tall, burly man, gray in my long brown hair and short beard, intelligent and earnest blue eyes behind my glasses. I look almost scholarly, and I look very very tired. You see, I’m going to talk to you straight; no sarcasm (well, not much), no poking fun at anyone (ditto), just me telling you things as I see them. If you don’t like it, too fucking bad. I could really give a rat’s ass; there’s the door, and don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out because I already have too much shit to clean up. And if you’re reading this and you’re curious about what I’m going to talk about and want to continue reading, then please continue.
One thing I’ve noticed about the online Autism wars is that things get nasty. People do and say things that are appalling and disgusting, and then they go on doing it. Each side wants to hurt the other in some way; one side tries to hurt someone’s livelihood, the other wishes that their opponents would all die of deadly diseases; one side thinks that their opponents should be jailed because they believe that those opponents are culpable in injuring and harming children, while the other wants to put their opponents on an island so that they can all die off. A while back, I noticed a comment on AoA that surprised and shocked me. Someone had posted information about Dr. Gorski and where he worked, etc. This, to me, was crossing a line. Gorski’s allies jumped in and showed their support, agreeing that it was an underhanded and tasteless thing to do. I spoke up on AoA and expressed my displeasure at what was done. Then, several months later, AoA did it again, showing a picture of Elyse Anders (Skepchick…she and I had a very pleasant email exchange afterwards..while she and I don’t agree about autism and vaccines, I can say she is a lovely and very sweet woman and that it was a real pleasure corresponding with her) and her child that seemed pretty threatening. Again, I spoke up, putting my foot down and refusing to post on AoA or defend them. Kim Wombles and Gorski and all of their clan stepped up and wailed about how horrible AoA was for doing something like that. When someone commenting on an article on about.com attacked Ken Reibel’s son, I spoke up, castigating that person even though I cannot stand Reibel. No matter how much you loathe or despise someone, there are things that should not be pulled into the argument. You don’t attack their livelihood, and you don’t attack their family.
So, what do the false skeptics do when one of theirs begins stalking and harassing someone who isn’t in their little clique? When that person starts posting information about where someone lives, pulling up comments and posts from 5 or more years ago by the person’s wife and posting them online (meaning that they dug really deep to get them), making mysterious phone calls to the individual and then hanging up when the person answers, and posting information about where someone works? What do they do when the person being harassed politely asks for the false skeptic to please stop because the actions are threatening and frightening to his family? Do they gather and defend this person, expressing their support and castigating the offending individual and loudly, proudly, make him an outcast to their elite club?
That’s right…they do nothing. Not a fucking thing, because in their eyes, he didn’t do anything wrong. You see, this is the very reason I started this blog.
I see this double standard all the time. The false skeptics wail and moan and gnash their teeth at how horrible those mean, cruel, evil “anti-vaxxers” are, but when they do the EXACT SAME THING, no one says a word. It’s ok when they do it, because they are righteous and holy in their cause. They are so assured that they are right and just that anyone who disagrees with them is anti-science/anti-vaxxer. It’s ok when they insult these parents, calling them tea-baggers and conspiracy theorists, because they KNOW they are right, and nothing anyone can do or say will ever change their minds. They are not open to new evidence. They do it because they feel that they are fighting for the health and welfare of children.
It’s a terrible thing what the AoAers make misogynistic comments about how a doctor is under the table giving Offit a hummer, but it’s ok when they say that Jenny McCarthy is a blonde bimbo who shows her bewbz, and why should you listen to her? It’s absolutely traumatizing when the eebil “anti-vaxxers” say that the Pharmaceutical industry and their shills are harming children, but it’s ok for them to call these people killers, or to open a website that accuses Jenny McCarthy of killing thousands of people. The world is going to end because the “anti-vaxxers” compare the tactics of the false skeptics to Nazis, but it’s ok when one of their number (the same fuckwit I mentioned that was stalking and harassing someone he doesn’t like) makes a shitty movie parody that casts one of the AoAers as Hitler and the rest of the editors of the site as his cabinet.
Really, it’s all very, very sickening.
The thing is, though, that AoA does the same thing. They are so assured in their righteousness, that they are right and just in their actions, that anyone who disagrees with them is a pharmaceutical shill, etc. etc. They do it because they feel they are fighting for the health of their children.
The only thing I see are a bunch of fucking assholes pointing fingers at each other and calling each other names. And you know what? It doesn’t do a damned thing to help our children.
That’s right…every single one of them should be fucking ashamed of themselves. And that includes me.
Orac isn’t fooling anyone but his sycophants and lickspittles. He claims to be science and evidence based, but then he declares from on high, with the angels above singing “The Science Has Spoken.” He’s critical of everything that contradicts his warm, safe little world view. He goes through the studies that call into question his paradigm, picking them apart and going through them with a fine toothed comb. He says he is not a friend of the Pharmaceutical industry, but he doesn’t question the crappy studies they release that supports his point of view. He doesn’t question the studies that, when they discover that the rates of autism in children with MMR are significantly higher in one age cohort, the study writers adjust the age cohorts to massage the data. He doesn’t question when a researcher compares autism rates in one city to vaccine uptake in another, then uses that to claim there is no association. Those are all fine and dandy in his book, and they reinforce what he already knows, so you can add confirmation bias to his list of tricks. And then he turns around and laughs at the parents and scientists who obviously have confirmation bias when presenting their studies. To Orac, real scientists don’t make a claim that states that vaccines could cause autism. And when a scientist is presented that shows a method and mechanism that shows that, he repeats that no real scientists would make the claim that vaccines could cause autism. He complains about censorship, but doesn’t want anyone who disagrees with him to have a say.
He doesn’t do a damned thing to help our kids. It’s a game to him, a way to make himself feel superior. But in truth, he’s a narcissist who can only make himself feel better by ridiculing others. His only goal is to be right, and rubbing it in the faces of those he doesn’t like. But, when he’s proven wrong on something, the subject is never broached again…the subject is no longer mentioned.
Kim Wombles is, quite possibly, the biggest violator of the “Oh no he DI-IN’T” club. She gets all flustered and angry and offended when people she doesn’t like insult her or her friends. It’s awful, you see? It’s terrible! They should instead write about building communities and talking about the joy that their children bring, and not about calling people dumbasses and going on and on and ON about how much better they are than their opponents because they believe one way and their opponents believe another (like she does). She can insult them, though…that’s ok, because that’s all part of building a community. They should write about love and friendship, but not write hateful comments about others’ beliefs (like she does). And flowers…don’t forget the flowers! And woo…gotta say woo at least 40 times an article. Oh, and when they do write about the joy that their children bring, it’s ok for her to ridicule them because she says they are dumbasses. And even dumbasses have feelings (you all may think I’m kidding or being sarcastic here…I assure you, I am not. This is how she really is). She complains about censorship, but doesn’t want anyone who disagrees with her to have a say.
Do as she says, not as she does. Pot…kettle…cunt. It’s all a game to her, you see. A way to prove to herself that she’s better than the people she doesn’t like. In actuality, she’s an even lower form of scum than she thinks they are. Again, not a damned thing to help our kids.
Ken Reibel trolls the internet looking for articles on vaccines and autism. He deliberately makes inflammatory comments to offend and humiliate parents of vaccine injured children. He accuses them of lying, of making up stories about their children’s injuries. He hounds parents like myself relentlessly, stalking them, pulling up posts and comments from their spouses that are years and years old. He harasses them endlessly, then laments when he is kicked out of conferences hosted by the people he hates. You see, it’s all a game to him. He gets his jollies by intimidating these parents, hoping that his badgering will get them to just shut the fuck up! He complains about censorship, but doesn’t want anyone who disagrees with him to have a say. But is he doing anything to help our kids?
Age of Autism is an online website that focuses on the vaccine/autism link. Once, they posted lots of information about diet, treatments, and doctors who assist with helping autistic children feel better. Lately, they’ve been focusing on calling people names, lamenting about how everyone is so mean to them, and complaining about how no one takes them seriously. They write scathing articles about those that oppose them, claiming that they are all pharma-shills. They focus on the studies that show no link between vaccines and autism, running through them with a fine toothed comb, but they aren’t critical of any of the studies that do show a connection. They relentlessly support a failed doctor and researcher who was shown to be unethical and sloppy in his research, even if he had good intentions. They relentlessly perseverate over another failed researcher who stole money and went into hiding. They complain about being censored, but they censor any disparaging comment posted on their site.
But, is what they are doing helping any children? Are they helping parents of autistic children?
Me, I talk about hypocrisy and double standards. I ridicule these doctors and science poseurs, showing that they aren’t really science and evidence based. I show them that they are just as much of a cult and a religion as those they deem “anti-vaxxers” because they cling so desperately to their dogma, because they worship science. Anyone who disagrees with anything they say is a heretic. And for that, I am outcast. For that, I am anathema! Just because I disagree with them about how science really works, just because I point out that science is not a god and should not be worshipped, I am shunned. While I don’t think I’m playing a game, I do enjoy bringing them down a notch or two. Their arrogance deserves to be mocked. Their hypocrisy deserves to be ridiculed. Their ignorance deserves to be brought to light.
But am I doing anything to help our children?
Nope, none of us are helping our children. Oh, sure, Orac and his cronies will say that by supporting vaccinations, they are helping children. They’re not, though…they’re just laughing at those they feel are inferior. And Kim will say that she’s building a supportive community that these parents can share their stories. She’s not, though…she focuses on the “angry places” like AoA and instead waxes poetic about how much better she is than these angry parents. AoA will say that they are trying to help vaccine injured children by exposing the corruption in the Pharmaceutical industry. They aren’t really helping children, though, because this whole thing has descended into name calling and finger pointing.
I include myself in all of that, too. I think it’s important to acknowledge your faults, especially when you are pointing out the faults in others. To really expose hypocrisy for what it is, self knowledge of your own flaws and hypocrisies is essential. But, again…that’s not really helping anyone.
I sometimes wonder if people like David Gorski and I could have been friends. He has great taste in music, and he and I share a lot of the same interests. I also find some of his blog posts extremely fascinating, and sometimes downright funny. Same with Reibel…could we have been friends? I admit, the guy is downright hilarious sometimes (that is sincere, btw). I tried being friends with Kim Wombles, but I have this little bias about being betrayed and stabbed in the back.
So, with this realization, I am going to quit writing as MySocratesNote. I’m sure many of you have seen this coming for a little while, but I don’t think I’m helping my son by doing this. In fact, I am going to follow the advice of a friend of mine and stop writing as myself entirely. I will be going underground and writing behind the wall of anonymity.
At this time, I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to close the site, leave it alone floating in cyberspace, or turn it over to a friend and let him write as MySocratesNote. One thing I will be doing is creating a new website. On it, we will discuss things that help our children. We will discuss things like how to stop a severely autistic child from playing with his feces, or the best way to potty train them. We will discuss treatments, both biomedical and mainstream. All will be welcome. All will have a say. Oh, there will be rules, yes. One of them will be no discussions about Vaccines, because to be honest with you, I am sick to fucking death of hearing about it, and those discussions are taking place in earnest on dozens of other sites around the web. And those that break my rules will get my usual 3 strikes before they are banned.
So, expect one more post after this from me as MySocratesNote. That post will have the new address of a site I am building that will focus on the things that help our children with special needs.
I encourage everyone to link to this article here. I want everyone who is in this war to read this. I want everyone to know just how petty this war has gotten. I want everyone to come up with ideas and thoughts about what I should write about on my site. I’d like the new site to be a sandbox of sorts, and I will even allow people to submit articles and ideas. I would like everyone to share their ideas about how to calm our children when they go into their rages. I’d like ideas on how to prevent meltdowns when you think they are coming. How to deal with SSI; how to deal with Medicaid; what resources to use to supplement insurance. I want this to be a REAL community that is focused on helping our children, not a pseudo-community that excludes people because you don’t like how they think or because you think they are dumbasses.
Even if you hate me; even if you think I’m full of shit, I am 100% positive that EVERYONE can agree that this is about our children. So, I challenge all of you to put aside the hatred, the bickering, the bigotry, and help each other out. Many of us have autistic children, and we are all in this together. So, let’s do this, people!