Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vaccines and Religion…Just Not How you Think

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a discussion with an old friend of mine. He and I were remarking on the similarities between the vaccine zealots (those he calls Vaccine Wackos) and religious extremists.

As you all know, I’ve discussed this observation many times on this site. However, I thought that I would delve further into this observation and reveal how my friend and I came to this conclusion. He and I have been working on this post for several days now, and considering that Gorski has sharted out his usual verbal Montezuma’s Revenge regarding how anti-vaxxers are cultists (and he does a very poor job of trying to compare the two), I felt it was a good time to look at the similarity of vaccine zealots and religious orthodoxy from a sociological standpoint as opposed to Gorski’s biased attempt at pigeon-holing.

So first, let us define what a religion is. In the simplest of terms, a religion is a group of people with similar views and beliefs who develop practices and reverence for the same things. Religion is not really practiced by a single individual (it wouldn’t be a religion if it was), so often, there are hierarchies and followers. Priests and their flocks, if you will.

Now, from this brief description, let’s look and see how that applies to the Vaccinators.

Are they a group of people with similar views and beliefs who develop practices and reverence to the same things? This is a very resounding “Yes,” when it is regarding vaccinations. Do they have a hierarchy? Absolutely! Doctors like Offit and Gorski are considered to be the priests, the gatekeepers of knowledge. What about followers? Yep! This is evident in the congregation of fawning arse-lickers who infest Gorski’s slime-pit, and those who collect together on various social media sites to attack and harass unbelievers.

Now that we’ve established a definition, let’s delve further into their belief structure. Religions are characterized by their beliefs. These beliefs are respected and held sacred by all members of the religion. These beliefs also come with a set of practices and morals that are considered very important to the congregation; if these beliefs, practices, and morals are not followed, then the member is considered to have “sinned.” These beliefs and morals are not up for debate, and they should not be questioned.

For the Vaccinators, their belief is that vaccines are the single most important medical breakthrough in history. It is immoral to deviate, even a little, from the doctrine of the sacred Vaccination Schedule, and getting vaccinated is treated with reverence, a sacrament similar to baptism in the Christian religion. It is your moral obligation to vaccinate your children. You should not show questions or concerns regarding this sacrament, and any deviance from the established dogma will result in cries of anti-vaxxer.

Which leads to our next part of religion; veneration of certain acts and things, and a clear definition of things that are evil or profane. Christianity venerates the death of Christ on the cross, and the cross is a reminder of this veneration. Things that pertain to, or are connected to, good acts that the church venerates are considered sacred. Things that they consider blasphemous, or profane, are considered evil. Those performing these types of acts are shunned, cast out, and scorned by the congregation. Often, they are called cultists, devil worshippers, or athiests.

Now, compare that to Vaccinators. All vaccines are sacred. Getting yourself and your children vaccinated will save you and your children, just like going to church and proclaiming your love for Christ will save your immortal souls. Speaking about vaccine injury, or selectively vaccinating, is blasphemous. Those who do so are shunned, cast out, and scorned by the Vaccinators. Often, they are called cultists, anti-vaxxers, and child killers.

In many churches, only the priest can understand, interpret, and teach about the Bible. Normal people within the church are incapable of understanding the true meaning behind the teachings of Christ, so should consult with their priest whenever they read the Bible. Similarly, Vaccinators believe that Doctors are the only ones capable of reading and understanding studies regarding vaccination and that anyone who reads them on their own and comes to their own conclusions is too stupid to understand the Science.

So, as you can see, Vaccine Wackos are clearly religious zealots, at least from a sociological viewpoint. Their beliefs and behaviours are consistent with religious zealots and their reactions to heretics and blasphemers are just as consistent. Oh, I can hear the Vaccine Wackos now…

“But we have SCIENCE on our side!!!!”

No, you have your biased and imperfect interpretation of science on your side. Science, I might add, that is paid for and controlled by organizations that have a vested interest in the outcome of that science. They never critically evaluate the science that supports their paradigm. Also, notice the religious reverence to Science.

The deification of Science is an abomination, and it should be ridiculed.

So, to test our theory that Vaccine Wackos are just religious zealots, let’s do a little test. My friend and I spent several days perusing the internet, reading comments left on pro-vaccine sites and on religious sites. We’ve compiled a list of comments. Some of them, we’ve left alone, and some we’ve changed only one or two words. See if you can determine which comments below are from Vaccine Wackos, or which are from religious zealots.

1. Your opinions are based on a lack of faith and the garbage you ingest from atheist blogs.

2. You are against God because you plug into atheism and don't have any education in basic religion...a poor substitute for faith.

3. Offit said he was hated. It's a strong sign we are on the right track.

4. You're just another crank blogger who is a satanist.

5. Priests are uniquely qualified to understand the theory behind religion and you are not.

6. That's a common anti-vax lie. Everybody doesn't have different interpretations. How can there be different interpretations? It's right there in the Science.

7. He's reading from a script in an attempt to pander to atheist groups. Why would you ever assume he is spreading "the truth"?

8. You're the ones claiming that there is no God. Show us the proof that there is no God!

9. There are no unanswered questions about God and creation....the questions have all been asked and answered, repeatedly.

10. It is the obligation of pro-science vaccinators everywhere to put the cup of Science to Anti-vaxxer's lips, and cause Anti-vaxxers to drink it. And you will drink it!

11. God has spoken!

12. Jesus has saved humanity!

13. We know this to be true because the Bible says it's true

14. Your baby's salvation is in jeopardy if they are not baptized

15. I don’t have to “prove” anything. You see, I have this wonderful thing called “faith” and with that I have no need of proof.

16. Just calmly and maturely present your side of the argument. Some of my friends are athiests. Doesn't mean I have to delete them from my life. It just means it's my duty to inform them otherwise.

17. Yet you don’t go to church, or only believe certain teachings? You do realize that makes you an atheist, right?

Post your answers in the comments, and we’ll reveal the answers in a few days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Musings on Anonymity and Libel

Several years ago, when I first met my dear friend, he and I spent many hours discussing a great many things. Religion, literature, science, and how the status quo, the scientific consensus, has perverted the purity of science. That last was a particular interest of mine, a fascinating sociological enigma that had already begun to occupy my thoughts. How delightful it was for me to find someone with similar interests.

He introduced me to this little blog here and asked if I would like to collaborate, something I was quite honoured to do. I was already familiar with David Gorski at that time. Many years ago, when he was on Usenet, I occasionally commented on some of his articles and/or discussions. Gorski, you see, was one of the defenders of the status quo. He ridiculed any views that were in opposition to his and was unwilling to accept evidence that was in opposition to his point of view. He attacked opposing viewpoints relentlessly, with an almost religious fervor, yet refused to scrutinize or question his own orthodoxy. He would scoff and dismiss any ideas that opposed his views instead of objectively analyzing them. His views were a perversion of science, and it intrigued me that this pretentious wind-bag was given so much credence considering that he was the very definition of a pseudo-skeptic.

Then, as now, I was anonymous, and my friend and I had many discussions (some quite heated) regarding anonymity and why he should choose to be anonymous. Sadly, he learned the hard way why he should stay anonymous after an unhinged and disturbing individual began stalking and harassing him online. He has now gone into hiding, only commenting under his real name on blogs and sites that he knows he is safe to comment on (like this one).

I will remain anonymous. I do so to protect my livelihood and my reputation. Not that I’m ashamed of anything I’m doing by pointing out how unscientific Gorski is. It’s something I’m quite proud of, as a matter of fact. No, I remain anonymous to prevent narcissistic busy-bodies like the one I will mention below from contacting my place of business in an attempt to get me fired or reprimanded, like she’s done before.

Gorski wrote an article today lamenting the tendency of people to out pseudonyms. Despite Gorski’s whining and martyrdom complex regarding how this was done to him, I mostly agree. However, this is not actually what I want to talk about.

I wanted to discuss a comment on Gorski’s blog from one of the more vile, shrill, vapid, and hypocritical fuss-budgets amongst the Pseudo-skeptics, one that I’ve written about on more than one occasion.

Lilady is one of the more humourous of Gorski’s sycophants. She bemoans how mean and cruel “anti-vaxxers” are, but then turns around and is even more cruel and vicious than they could ever be. She wails about how Jake Crosby stalks people like Gorski and Offit, yet she turns around and constantly stalks him and Anne Dachel. She also has many of the classic signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For example, she expects everyone to believe she’s a retired nurse and epidemiologist (the latter began appearing in her numerous comments only in the past two years) and makes sure to mention it in nearly every comment she makes, which fits under the need to be recognized as superior. She expects constant attention, which is why she comments on Gorski’s site saying, “Look what I’m doing over here! I’m having an argument with anti-vaxxers!!” She lacks the ability to empathise with the people she argues with, and is arrogant towards them. She thinks she should be treated fairly and respected, yet she does not treat others in the same way.

Now, I know that writing this post will likely feed her narcissism, and if that’s the case, so be it. I still think it is important to point out her pseudo-skeptical behaviours and comment on the lack of critical thinking exhibited.

The below comment is the meat of my discussion today:

“Orac, I think I can speak for the RI Ladies to thank you for this excellent, sensitive post about “outing” a female blogger, by a man in a position of power. It is a vicious spiteful tactic designed to qwell any dissent and to put a younger less powerful woman in her place.

Your personal stalker who posts on his blog as “gambolputty”, has employed the same libelous tactics against me on his own blog and has used another pseudonym (“Caro”) to post nasty libelous comments at me on the Ho-Po and on Seth Mnookin’s blog:

It’s downright disconcerting and threatening for any blogger to resort to “outing”…doubly so, when the victim of the outing is a woman.”

First off, notice the utter fawning and blatant arse-kissery? Pretty disgusting, yes?

Secondly, I believe that Lilady needs to be edumacated on the definitions of stalking and libel. I personally find both of these accusations to be very serious, and therefore, I must address them accordingly.

Let’s start with the legal definition of stalking. I’ll use the definitions for cyber-stalking as opposed to physical stalking considering that most of this alleged activity is occurring online.

“Cyber harassment refers to online harassment. Cyber harassment or bullying is the use of email, instant messaging, and derogatory websites to bully or otherwise harass an individual or group through personal attacks. Cyber harassment can be in the form of flames, comments made in chat rooms, sending of offensive or cruel e-mail, or even harassing others by posting on blogs or social networking sites. Cyber harassment is often difficult to track as the person responsible for the acts of cyber harassment remains anonymous while threatening others online.” (1)

So, let’s look at some of her comments on Gorski’s site that fit into these criteria.

“According to Jake…he was very *respectful*, just wanted to pose a *question* (rambling statement of *facts* as Jake’s sees the *facts*) and Dr. Offit publicly humiliated Jake.

Who knows if Jake is reporting his encounter with Dr. Offit accurately. Jake has been known to *misinterpret* and incorrectly report his many stalking capers, in his efforts to curry favor with his *keepers* at AoA and with his readership at that yellow rag.

Who should be believe then? Dr. Offit who is a world- respected scientist and physician and the director of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Department of CHOP? Dr. Offit who developed a safe rotavirus vaccine and who has devoted his professional life to educating parents, physicians, nurses, and students about immunology, vaccine safety and vaccine preventable diseases?


Jake Crosby, who is clueless about Intussusception (the bowel *turns inside out*, according to Jake), who repeatedly commits libel in his writings and commits slander every time he stalks Dr. Offit and lets loose with his false accusations. Jake Crosby, who has an undying love for a disgraced former doctor, that causes him to stalk and accost Dr. Offit and other public figures. Jake who *uses* a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome to justify his atrocious anti-social behaviors that includes stalking and defamation of character.

I know Jake, his *handlers* and his readership lurk here. Just for you Jake…you are, in my opinion, a POS, you have an unnatural fixation on your hero Wakefield. And Jake, you may somehow graduate with a MPH…but you will never be an epidemiologist in the public health field.”

Anonymous? Check. Using derogatory rhetoric to harass, bully, and make personal attacks against an individual? Check. Threatening? Not really…lilady is about as harmless and inconsequential as a dung beetle. However, that last comment could certainly be taken as threatening. She constantly lurks on his site and on facebook. She digs up information about his parents, what his parents jobs are, and keeps very close tabs on Jake’s whereabouts and activities, even going so far as to speculate about his dating habits.

If that’s not stalking, I don’t know what is. Hello, hypocrisy.

Now, let’s address the libel comment. In particular, as it pertains to yours truly. Here is the legal definition of libel:

“to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others.” “Publication need only be to one person, but it must be a statement which claims to be fact, and is not clearly identified as an opinion. While it is sometimes said that the person making the libelous statement must have been intentional and malicious, actually it need only be obvious that the statement would do harm and is untrue.”(2)

Lilady has, on many occasions, made comments regarding Mr Crosby, Ms McCarthy and others that were untrue and with the intent to harm their reputations.

Here’s the thing, lilady…if I’m disagreeing with you and giving you a reason for my disagreement, that is not libel. Saying that I don’t believe that you are a retired nurse and epidemiologist is also not libel, especially since it’s a reasonable observation, and it’s clear that what I am expressing is an opinion. It also cannot harm your reputation because a) you’re doing that yourself with your angry, shrieking, hysterical posts and b) you are anonymous and therefore have no professional reputation to uphold. But to lilady, anyone who disagrees with her directly is posting nasty comments and is a “libelous slanderer” (yes, that’s actually one of her insults).

Continuing on, let’s look at the link she provided. This is where it gets hilarious. The comment she links to is not even directed at her, but she thinks that it’s libeling her. Talk about narcissism!

Lastly, I do not condone “outing” pseudonymous bloggers and writers. Oft-times, they do this for a reason, and I respect that reason. Just as I respect lilady’s anonymity. Gorski is already “out,” and it’s no secret who he is. Therefore, my use of his real name opposed to his pseudonym is irrelevant. I have never once done this to her, nor have I personally done it to anyone else. And I take great offense that she would accuse me of doing so.

I do not have the ability to comment on Gorski’s blog. He usually doesn’t like what I have to say about him, so he either moderates my comments (yes, he moderates selectively, despite his assurances of the contrary…if he doesn’t like what someone says, he will not let the comment through), or they get caught in his web filter (I use an anonymous proxy to hide my location from other bloggers…yes, a bit paranoid, I know. But considering what happened to my friend, I think it’s a reasonable precaution). So, I can’t post this over on Gorski’s blog as a rebuttal. I take accusations such as the one that lilady leveled at me very seriously. I strongly encourage her to refrain from making such accusations and educate herself on the terminology she’s using to accuse others. If she actually has real and concrete proof that I am libeling her in some way, then present that proof instead of trying to play the martyr and woe-is-me. If she cannot provide this proof, then it’s more evidence that she is a liar and that she’s full of shite.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Science Bowel Movements Wants Your Money. Just Trust them…it Isn’t a Scam.

Another post, you say? Two in a week? What is going on here?

Once again, I find myself sufficiently amused by someone’s blatant hypocrisy that I just have to say something about it. You know me…I can’t keep silent in the face of such shameless duplicity.

Who, do you ask, is responsible for this chuckle-worthy sanctimony?

Do you really need to ask?

David Gorski wants us to join his organization of elitist science wannabes:

“The reason this new organization, the Society for Science-Based Medicine, is so needed is because, quite frankly, in the skeptical movement SBM is but one area of many areas of concern, and, in my estimation, one that doesn’t receive attention proportional to the real societal damage done by quackery. That has changed a bit (this year’s TAM featured two talks on Stanislaw Burzynski, and the skeptical movement has shown a gratifying movement towards combatting the antivaccine movement over the last few years), but, even so, I don’t think I exaggerate too much when I say that, even now, SBM tends not to be as prominent a concern in organized skepticism as other brands of pseudoscience and unreason, in particular creationism, religion, and the paranormal.”

So, the main purpose of this little society is so that David can feel important, pretending that what his little elitist club is doing actually matters. That what they are doing is making a difference. A laudable goal, to be sure, if it wasn’t so laughable.

“A new organization is needed to counter unreason and pseudoscience in medicine. That is why the Society for Science-Based Medicine is being founded. That is why I want you to join us.”

It’s clear that David’s hope is that he will be considered the super-hero of “SBM” (which, in my opinion, should be Science Bowel Movement).

That, and he wants your money. $85 a year to listen to his drivel? No thanks, I’d rather have 365 days straight of root canals.

I find it remarkably amusing that David lambasts organizations like Age of Autism for asking readers for donations, saying that their site really serves no purpose other than to promote quackery and pseudoscience.

So what does he do? He asks for money from his readers for a site and/or organization that serves no other purpose than to promote his version quackery and pseudoscience.

The reason why Science Bowel Movements is not as popular or noticed as some of the things they purport to fight is because everyone is waking up to just how much of a scam these elitist scum are performing.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at their guiding principles:

Respect for knowledge and truth – SBM values reality and what is true. We therefore endeavor to be as reality-based as possible in our beliefs and opinions. This means subjecting all claims to a valid process of evaluation.”

Except when that claim conforms to their own bias. In other words, they only respect their own version of knowledge and truth. Anything else should be attacked with rabid abandon, going so far as to stalk, harass, intimidate, and bully anyone they disagree with.

Methodological naturalism – SBM believes that the world is knowable because it follows certain rules, or laws of nature. The only legitimate methods for knowing anything empirical about the universe follows this naturalistic assumption. In other words – within the realm of the empirical, you don’t get to invoke magic or the supernatural.”

Except when it comes to how their pet theories work. You don’t have to understand it…it’s Science, man! Just trust them and don’t ask any questions!

Promotion of science – Science is the only set of methods for investigating and understanding the natural world. Science is therefore a powerful tool, and one of the best developments of human civilization. We therefore endeavor to promote the role of science in our society, public understanding of the findings and methods of science, and high-quality science education. This includes protecting the integrity of science and education from ideological intrusion or anti-scientific attacks. This also includes promoting high quality science, which requires examining the process, culture, and institutions of science for flaws, biases, weaknesses, and fraud.”

Except when it comes to examining themselves and those they agree with for biases, weaknesses, and fraud.

Promotion of reason and critical thinking – Science works hand-in-hand with logic and philosophy, and therefore SBM also promotes understanding of these fields and the promotion of critical thinking skills.”

Except when it comes to critically thinking about their own claims. You should just accept everything they say at face value.

Science vs. pseudoscience – SBM seeks to identify and elucidate the borders between legitimate science and pseudoscience, to expose pseudoscience for what it is, and to promote knowledge of how to tell the difference.”

Except when it comes to the science that conforms to their expectations. No matter how bad the science, if they agree with it, then it must be good science.

Ideological freedom/free inquiry – Science and reason can only flourish in a secular society in which no ideology (religious or otherwise) is imposed upon individuals or the process of science or free inquiry.”

Except when it comes to their religion. Thou shalt not question the science they agree with. Thou shalt not disagree with them or point out the flaws in their dogma…err scientific studies that they agree with.

Neuropsychological humility – Being a functional SBM proponent requires knowledge of all the various ways in which we deceive ourselves, the limits and flaws in human perception and memory, the inherent biases and fallacies in cognition, and the methods that can help mitigate all these flaws and biases.”

Except when it comes to themselves. This principle doesn’t apply to them.

They even go one step further, ridiculing a quote from Doctor Mehmet Oz:

““Medicine is a very religious experience. I have my religion and you have yours. It becomes difficult for us to agree on what we think works, since so much of it is in the eye of the beholder. Data is rarely clean. You find the arguments that support your data, and it’s my fact versus your fact.”

Dr. Oz is wrong. We have a way of determining what works: the methods of science. Like all tools it is only as effective as the person wielding it.”

Except that their interpretation of science is more akin to a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

Which is religion.

I cannot help but laugh at these fools. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, apparently. Do as they say, not as they do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Censorship is Bad…Unless You’re a False Skeptic

Some of you may have wondered why I haven’t posted much over the past year. Honestly, the little Vaccine/Autism war has grown tiresome for me, and I find myself growing increasingly bored with the same drivel coming from the false skeptic community when it comes to defending their own confirmation biases while ridiculing anything that doesn’t conform to their point of view.

Occasionally, however, one of these cretins does something that I find sufficiently amusing enough to rouse me from the ennui that their droning ego-masturbatory cries for attention tends to induce in me. And, sure enough, it comes from the king of narcissistic false skepticism, Mr David H. Gorski. Are you in the least bit surprised?

David is blathering about how something offends him…his usual verbal diarrhoea. Today he’s droning on about how he thinks censorship is bad on Facebook, Mkay? Observe:

“My personal issues with Facebook aside, Facebook does indeed have many shortcomings, but until something else comes along and steals the same cachet (which is already happening as teens flee Facebook to avoid their parents) and even after, Facebook will remain a major player in social media. That’s why its policies matter. They can matter a lot. I was reminded of this about a week ago when Dorit Reiss (who has of late been the new favored target of the antivaccine movement, likely because she is a lawyer and has been very effective thus far in her young online career opposing the antivaccine movement) published a post entitled Abusing the Algorithm: Using Facebook Reporting to Censor Debate. Because I also pay attention to some Facebook groups designed to counter the antivaccine movement, I had already heard a little bit about the problem, but Reiss laid it out in stark detail. Basically, the merry band of antivaccinationists at the Australian Vaccination Network (soon to be renamed because its name is so obviously deceptive, given that it is the most prominent antivaccine group in Australia, that the NSW Department of Fair Trading ordered the anti-vaccine group to change its misleading name) has discovered a quirk in the algorithm Facebook uses to process harassment complaints against users and abused that quirk relentlessly to silence its opponents on Facebook.”

David is somewhat correct here; censorship, in any form, is wrong. What he is describing is a form of bullying and harassment, behaviour I find to be childish and appalling.

Except that David thinks that censorship is only bad when false skeptics are censored…it’s ok when they censor opposing views.

This is a theme that I’ve written about numerous times on this site; the hypocritical double standard that false skeptics are free to bully, harass, intimidate and censor any opposing views, but how dare anyone do it back. He can dish it out, but he can’t take it.

This is a common tactic on Facebook for the false skeptics. In fact, there is an entire page devoted to it; they call it the Anti-Vax Wall of Shame (which Gorski happens to be a member of). They make sport of ridiculing parents of vaccine injured children. They congratulate each other for bullying, harassing and intimidating anyone who opposes their point of view, and take great pride in reporting and banning anyone they don’t like. In fact, I’ve found one or two sites devoted to posting the reports and bannings instigated by the AVWOS.

For example, here’s Provax Quacks, who has several posts about bans and reportings from members of the same hate-group that Gorski is a member of.

Just don’t report or ban David’s arse-lickers…that’s bad.

He even goes as far as to tell his fart-sniffers to continue bullying, harassing and censoring opposing views…just don’t tell anyone you’re doing it.

“In other words, carry on what you’re doing, but please, just be a little less blatant about it and for heaven’s sake don’t publicly gloat about it when your abuse of Facebook’s reporting mechanism succeed!”

He later comments and laughs about how the site “FB Time-Outs for Provaxers” is no longer accessible:

“Bwahahahaha. Apparently “Karen Little” either took down her gloating page or changed its privacy settings. The Keanu Reeve meme, in which the tag line was “What if I told you it wasn’t the algorithm,” now does not show up.”

Or, it could be because someone reported the page. Do as I say, not as I do.

What a bloody hypocrite.

I’m not much of a Facebook user. When I do use FB, I make sure my posts are private and that I never comment on any of the Vaccine Zealot or Vaccine Skeptic pages or groups. I might read them, but I never comment. The extreme efforts that others, vaccine zealot and skeptic alike, will go through to silence opposition sickens me. I say let them speak their drivel, but point out their logical fallacies, point out their hypocritical behaviours and actions, and let others see what they are doing. Eventually, people will start to realize that they should not associate with these bullies and zealots and wonder why so many people are turning away from Gorski’s version of Religion-as-Science.

Readers, please feel free to post here times when you’ve been censored, banned, or reported for posting something that wasn’t in line with what vaccine zealots and false skeptics didn’t like.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jenny McCarthy Strawman Fallacies, Take Two

This has been an interesting week, has it not? First, there was the Zimmerman trial and the outrageous response to his acquittal. Then, there was news of Gay marriage being legalized in England.

Then, there was news that was so outrageous, so shocking, so contemptible that it forced the entire Quackosphere ™ to creep out from under their bridges and organize a massive campaign to speak up against this atrocity.

That’s right; Jenny McCarthy has joined The View.

This is criminal! I mean, how dare they hire a beautiful woman who is openly outspoken about how she thinks her son was injured by vaccines! The gall!

Oh, and the furor is truly spectacular. The rhetoric has reached hysterical proportions. The amount of butt-hurt is truly epic.

Salon says that having her on the view will kill children. Just the fear-mongering in the title alone is enough to send the Pharma reps into fits of money-grubbing glee. Pareene vapidly opines:

“Parents have been convinced by McCarthy and the people she works with and promotes. They have forgone vaccination for their children. The result has been the recurrence and spread of preventable diseases. It’s incredibly irresponsible for a broadcast television network to think Jenny McCarthy should be on television — in a position where her job is to share her opinions — every day. It should seriously be a major scandal.”

His proof of this? Citations, please. Has this been peer-reviewed?

He goes on and essentially calls Ms McCarthy a dumb blonde.

Oh, the comments are wonderful, too. One commenter tells Anne Dachel:

“Fuck off and die, you anti-science cunt. I bet your kid deserved it, too.”

That’s lovely, yes? Truly a testament to the science community. This reminds me of some of the rhetoric that the Westboro Baptist Church spews out on a daily basis. Fortunately, Salon removed the offensive comment (and Dachel’s comment, too). I guess they wouldn’t want anyone to accuse them of being biased…

Oh, it gets better. The various media outlets have a field day and express some fine examples of misogynistic hatred.

Fox News: “Jenny McCarthy is blonde, beautiful, a former Playboy playmate, a published author, a prominent comedic actress, and a Weight Watchers spokesperson.”

USA Today: “In recent years, McCarthy has become as well-known for her claims that vaccines cause autism as for her roles as a late-night host on VH1 and a 1993 Playboy model.”

Notice anything common? That’s right, mentioning that she formerly posed nude. Since she’s posed nude, she must clearly be wrong.

Even Gorski had something to say. In one of his shorter posts (only 2000 words or so), he laments and whines about such a horrible choice.

Believe it or not, though, this isn’t actually what I wanted to talk about.

No, it has to do with the very title of this article. That’s right, it has to do with another strawman fallacy that is so laughable, so uninformed, that it actually brought my good friend MySocratesNote out of retirement to help me write this article.

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, in all of its misinformed glory:

“Jenny McCarthy said that her son never had Autism to begin with. He had an unspecified seizure disorder/Landau-Kleffner syndrome. She’s been lying all along, so you can’t believe anything she says!”

The origins of this myth actually sprang from an article from 2009 (which is no longer available, sadly). Fortunately, many different venues have repeated this lie, including one Left Brain/Right Brain.


“In After Vaccine-Autism Case Settlement, MDs Urged to Continue Recommending Vaccines (June 5), Dawn Fallik correctly cites Jenny McCarthy as a celebrity fanning the flames of the vaccine-autism link. McCarthy also makes parents think that autism can be cured with unproven treatments – as she claims is the case with her son – documented in her much publicized book, Louder than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism (Dutton 2007).

Unfortunately, what the public does not realize as well as perhaps McCarthy is that her son was most likely misdiagnosed with autism in the first place. His disorder began with seizures and, subsequently, with the seizures treated, he improved. This would be more consistent with Landau-Kleffner syndrome, which often is misdiagnosed as autism.”

Notice the language here: “most-likely.”

Here’s the thing. The quote listed above is from a doctor who has never examined Evan. Nor has the doctor even seen his medical records. The quote above is just speculation that has been repeated over and over as fact.

However, that does not stop the pseudo-skeptics from using this misinformation in their quest to hate all things Jenny. Observe one of Gorski’s more rabid and foaming-at-the-mouth sycophants, lilady (whose credentials have morphed from a retired R.N. to a retired R.N. epidemiologist):

“I am angry at Jenny McCarthy on two fronts.

- Her use (pimping), of her child’s seizure disorder to revive her moribund career as a D-List celebrity…and her statements that she *recovered* Evan.

- Jenny, being handpicked by J. B. Handley to be the spokesperson for Generation Rescue and the annual Quack Fest.

Yes, I’m angry that any TV program would even contemplate rewarding this creature, by giving her a slot on The View…to gin up the ratings”

Such hatred! Such venom!

I wonder if Ms McCarthy has received death threats, too. We can certainly see that she’s been stalked, harassed, and censored because people don’t like what she has to say. How far have they taken it? It’s difficult to tell because, unlike some (*cough* Offit *cough), she doesn’t whine about it.

To me, it’s extremely interesting to see the parallels between Christianity and the Church of the Immaculate Vaccination. I mean, think about it. Look at the reaction to Ms McCarthy; the hatred, the bile. She’s the Church of the Immaculate Vaccination’s Whore of Babylon!

Does that make Paul Offit their prophet (see what I did there)?

One thing that is clear; there is a whole hell of a lot of misogynistic hate going on here. It is extremely interesting to see so much stubborn and complete intolerance of any belief or opinion that differs from their own.

Hey, that looks familiar. Yes, it is familiar. That is the very definition of bigotry!

Congratulations, Pseudo-Skeptics! You’re all a bunch of chauvinistic bigots.

You have absolutely no leg to stand on here, pseudo-skeptics. None. Your vapid and spittle-flecked rancor toward Jenny McCarthy is your own doing. It is fueled by fear mongering and misinformation that is being stirred by idiots like Gorski. It is unscientific!


lilady has commented on another Huffington Post article, spewing her hatred and vile bigotry for all to see. She is also being soundly schooled upon the difference between the words cure and recovery. See, apparently, since she’s a “retired R.N.” she is incapable of understanding the difference between those two distinct medical words. The fail that ensues is truly inspiring. Enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Death of Alex Spourdalakis Cynically Expoited by David Gorski and his Sycophantic Lickspittles as Fuel for his Hatred of All Things he Deems Heretical.

Whew…just the title seems like a mouthful, yes?

Earlier this week, I was devastated to hear the news that Alex Spourdalakis was dead, apparently murdered. When I learned that his mother and god-mother were found nearby, both unconscious, I knew what had happened. Needless to say, my heart sank, completely saddened by the needless loss of life of that poor young man. I tried to imagine his terror, his helplessness, as those he trusted most plunged a knife into his own heart. Even now, I still have tears at the thought…

What would make a mother do that? How desperate, hopeless, and depressed must someone be to come to that decision? I can’t even imagine. I’d like to think that there are always alternatives, that there is always some other way, than to take a human life. While I in no way condone what Alex’s mother and god-mother have done, I can certainly understand that they, at least, felt there was no other choice. That doesn’t mean I am any less appalled.

But to treat them with the hatred I’ve seen from Gorski and his mumbling meatheads, to call them monsters, is to dehumanize the tragedy. These are people whom, I believe, the system has failed.

What is truly appalling, though, is when Gorski and his drooling sycophants exploit tragedies of this calibre to proselytize his agenda on the evils of…well, anything he deems antithetical to his church.

Gorski’s latest dungfest, Autism biomed and the murder of Alex Spourdalakis, does just that. Observe:

Sometimes, in the course of blogging, I come across a story that I don’t know what to make of. Sometimes, it’s a quack or a crank taking a seemingly science-based position. Sometimes it’s something out of the ordinary. Other times, it’s a story that’s just weird, such that I strongly suspect that something else is going on but can’t prove it. So it was a few months ago when I came across the story of Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year-old autistic boy who became a cause célèbre of the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. I first noticed it in early March when perusing AoA to see what the merry band of antivaccine propagandists was up to I came across a post by Lisa Goes entitled Day 19: Chicago Hospital Locks Down Autistic Patient. In the post was a shocking picture of a large 14-year-old boy in a a hospital bed in four point restraints. He was naked, except for a sheet covering his genitals. His name, we were informed, was Alex Spourdalakis. Further down in the post was another, equally shocking, picture of Alex that, according to Goes, showed severe dermatitis on Alex’s back due to the hospital sheets. The photos shocked me for two reasons. First, if the story was as advertised (something to be doubted always about anything posted to AoA), for once I thought that I might be agreeing with Goes and thinking that AoA was doing a good thing. Second, however, I was extremely disturbed by the publication of such revealing photos of the boy. Undoubtedly, Alex’s mother must have given permission. What kind of mother posts pictures like that of her son for all the world to see? Then there appeared a Facebook page, Help Support Alex Spourdalakis, which pled for readers to help the Spourdalakis family.

As I said, something didn’t seem right.

Note that he doesn’t have evidence of any wrongdoing here…it’s just a feeling.

As I read articles and posts about Alex Spourdalakis, going back to March, I had the distinct impression that there was more going on that met the eye. Lisa Goes might have been right. That has to be conceded. But while I occasionally looked at stories about Alex on AoA, they just didn’t seem to pass the “smell test” to me. Something, it seemed to me, was being left out. Neither did a lot of the claims seem entirely credible. At the very least, it was very clear that a highly biased, one-sided version of events was being presented. For instance, Goes claimed that Alex was kept in restraints 24 hours a day at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC) for 19 days:

According to her, at 14 years of age, Alex has a diagnosis of severe autism and cognitive impairment. He is non-verbal. In October of 2012, Alex began to suffer neurological events that prevented a healthy sleep cycle. He was awake for many hours at a time. Agitation and aggression ensued as a result of sleep deprivation. During this time, symptoms and behaviors that were indicative of severe gastrointestinal distress developed as well. A cycle of constipation, diarrhea and formed bowel movements surfaced and became a chronic problem. On February 16th at 5:00 am, with the assistance of police and paramedics, Dorothy took her inconsolable and highly-distressed non-verbal child to Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois.

Because of Alex’s physical aggression, he was placed in locked restraints. At that time, Dorothy did not know the ER would be their home for the next several days, as Alex lay naked, in locked restraints, suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea. Neither she nor Alex bathed for the next 13 days while hospital staff and administrators attempted to devise a plan to care for Alex. “He was given Colace for his constipation and sometimes it would take security staff and nurses more than 15 minutes to arrive to help unshackle him so he could use the bathroom,” Dorothy explained. “Alex would scream as best he could when he knew he was going to have a vomiting episode, but security took several minutes to respond so Alex would lay in his own vomit, waiting to be released by a representative of security. He would be wiped down and returned to the same restraints.”

Sure, it was possible that the boy was being abused so horribly, first at Gottleib Hospital and then at LUMC, but it seemed damned unlikely to me, although at the time I had no way of refuting or confirming the increasingly lurid stories being posted at AoA about Alex. Still, I knew that tere(sic) are very strict laws these days about patient restraint. The last time I ever had to order four point restraints was over 14 years ago, back when I moonlighted as a trauma attending in, yes, the Chicago area, the same metropolitan area where Alex lived and died. Before that I sometimes had to deal with the restraint of patients when as a resident I rotated on the trauma services at the hospitals where I trained. Sometimes patients with head injuries or severe intoxication would be violent and require restraint. There were always a strict protocol that we followed, even back then. My understanding is that the protocols have only gotten more strict. Restraining a patient, particularly a minor, is not something that is undertaken lightly, nor should it be. To believe the AoA account, we have to believe that a severely autistic teenaged boy would be kept in the emergency room for several days (also very, very unlikely) and put in restraints in an abusive fashion at not just one but two different hospitals, continuing after Alex was transferred from Gottlieb Hospital to Loyola University Medical Center on February 28. Actually, it was three different hospitals, because later Alex was shown in four point restraints at Lutheran General Hospital during his last admission in May. More on that later.

I know that’s a lot to read of Gorski’s nauseating drivel, but it’s important to read it in detail. The reason why is that Gorski is using anecdote as evidence for his “feeling” that something wasn’t right with the story. With no evidence at all, whatsoever, he dismisses the story of Alex’s hospital stay as “fishy,” as “one-sided,” because his anecdotal evidence says otherwise.

But he has no actual evidence to contradict their story. It’s just a feeling. Does that sound familiar?

Missing from these stories was a clear and cogent explanation of why Alex was ever admitted to Gottleib Hospital and then transferred to LUMC in the first place. It’s mentioned in some places that Alex was “inconsolable, highly-distressed and suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea.” I had to look for clues to explain it, and, I must admit, I still remain puzzled. Certainly, this petition demanding that LUMC provide what Ms. Spourdalakis considers to be “standard medical treatment,” which to her included gastroenterology. Peppered through various reports were indications that Alex had multiple allergies and GI issues. Having observed a fair amount of autism quackery on the Internet, these terms were huge red flags to me that strongly suggested to me the possibility that Ms. Spourdalakis was heavily into “autism biomed.”

Hmmm…Alex exhibited signs of severe gastrointestinal distress, a condition that is quite common in children with autism. But because they wanted a treatment plan to address these GI issues and food allergies, they must be subjecting him to autism quackery.

Because he has no actual evidence…he’s going off of a gut feeling. And because he says so.

No, they appear to have subjected Alex to biomedical quackery, which might even have led to the symptoms leading to Alex’s repeated hospitalizations beginning in February. Time and investigation by the authorities will tell. I reject the “logic” of such antivaccinationists such as it is, that only makes sense only if you accept the pseudoscience claiming that vaccines cause autism.

He bases his conclusion off of his feelings. He is presenting his opinion as conclusive fact that Alex’s caregivers were subjecting him to teh ebil biomed (insert horror music here) and were the cause of his behaviour problems and bowel issues.

He uses this tragedy to harangue his readers on the evils of those heretics who dare to defy the dictum of his church. He uses this tragedy to paint these parents of children with autism seeking a cure as evil, as monstrous.

I cannot put into words how horribly, horribly disgusting I find this man.

Hey, David? Could it be possible that the caregivers of Alex were failed by the medical establishment, by the very “Science” that you worship? All evidence I’ve seen points to “Yes.”

These caregivers were failed by the medical establishment. Their son was subjected to treatment plans that only covered the problem, not fixed it. It was clear that he had GI problems, but the medical establishment refused to address these problems, even though there is plenty of evidence that shows that children with autism commonly have GI problems.

While this is also anecdotal, I happen to be good friends of a father with a child who has extreme autism. He has told me on numerous occasions how difficult it is to get services for his son. How he has to drive three hours to see autism specialists. About how he cannot take his son to emergency care or hospital ER’s in his area because they simply do not have the resources or the knowledge to deal with children with autism as severe as his.

Instead of continuing to defend your pathetic church, you fucking imbecile, acknowledge that your church may be part of the problem.

I am saddened by this tragedy. Alex’s death was tragic, horrible, and my heart cries for the pain he has had to endure. I am angered beyond words at the way a…thing (I would say piece of shite, but even manure has a use…I don’t see a use for Gorski and his cretinous bumlickers) like Gorski could use this tragedy to push across his agenda.

That this man is someone in the medical industry, someone who is supposed to care for the sick and helpless, sickens me.

Is it any wonder why so many are turning to biomed? Is it any wonder why so many people are coming to distrust doctors?

Not to me…not when we have a simpleton like David Gorski in the medical industry.

If people like him continue to have their way, then I fear that we will see even more tragedies like this one.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

David Gorski is Spouting More of his Nonsense, and his Anti-Science Stupidity Induces…Laughter

Ah, false-skeptics…

If there is something that is a repeated theme to my blog, it’s pointing out the hypocrisy and unscientific behaviour of people who claim to be “science based” or “skeptics.” In fact, it was such an amusing diversion that, for a time, I had too much material to blog about. And then, I realised that I was way too busy in my own personal life that I really didn’t have time to focus on making fun of these hypocritical and duplicitous douche-bags. And before I knew it…6 months had passed since I had updated my humble little blog.

Then, yesterday, an announcement was made. The NVICP awarded two children compensation for injuries that resulted from a vaccine. Both of these children were fine prior to vaccination, and both children developed an encepalopathy post vaccination that resulted in seizure disorders. One was diagnosed with ASD, the other with PDD-NOS.

I’ll get more into that later. Right now, I want to discuss the reaction.

Predictably, David Gorski had to say something. And his dismissal of these two children is so mind-numbingly stupid that I was contemplating watching “Jersey Shore” or “Honey Boo-Boo” to find something more intelligent.

In David’s latest shart-fest, “David Kirby’s back, and this time his anti-vaccine fear mongering induces…ennui,” Gorski begins his shrill and foaming-at-the-mouth rant with his usual logical fallacies, i.e. poisoning the well.

I sense a disturbance in the antivaccine Force, which is, of course, by definition the Dark Side.

Whenever I sense such a disturbance, there are a number of possible reactions that it provokes in me. One such reaction is alarm, as when antivaccine activists say something that is just clever enough to sound plausible enough that it might cause trouble. It never is, of course, but it often takes a close reading and some research to figure out what the game is and deconstruct the nonsense. Sometimes, my reaction is amusement, as when an antivaccine activist says something that is so hilariously dumb, so over-the-top in its scientific ignorance that it provokes chuckles or even guffaws as I read it, as, for instance, whenever Vox Day jumps into the antivaccine fray. Such excretions have a tendency to provoke some amused not-so-Respectful Insolence; that is, when I’m in the mood. Sometimes, my reaction is boredom, pure ennui. Such reactions are generally reserved for antivaccine nonsense that is so unimaginative, so derivative of lies and misinformation that antivaccinationists have been flogging before, that I’d really prefer to let the cup pass. However, I can’t, because I feel duty-bound, knowing that supporters of science-based medicine opposing the quackery that is the antivaccine movement are about to be buried in a tsunami (word choice intentional) of utter nonsense.

You know such a moment is fast upon us whenever David Kirby decides to address the vaccine-autism manufactroversy.”

A disturbance in the force? Seriously? Are we really sure this guy is a doctor, much less an adult? Then he starts wailing about how the nonsense is “unimaginative, so derivative of lies and misinformation” that he’d prefer not to talk about it. But poor David, who is such a busy “doctor” and “researcher” that he writes on his hate-blog daily, is such a martyr that he has to do this. Oh yes he does. Let’s not mention the heaping dose of hypocritical bovine faeces regarding lies and derivative misinformation. Observe.

Of course, David Kirby is so 2005 or 2006. That was back when hardly a week passed without a dropping by Kirby appearing on that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post. These days, he rarely dips his toe into the antivaccine pool, but when he does he twists the catch phrase of the “most interesting man alive” from “stay thirsty my friends” to “stay stupid my friends,” which is just what he’s done this time. In a way, it’s oddly comforting to know that, even after all these years David Kirby can still bring home the stupid, flaming like napalm, and bring home the stupid he does in a post on—where else?—HuffPo entitled Vaccine Court Awards Millions to Two Children With Autism. He begins with what is, in essence, a bait and switch that is apparent in the title. You can see right there that what Kirby is going to try to convince people is that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) through the Vaccine Court has “admitted” that vaccines cause autism by compensating children for vaccine injuries that include autism. We’ve heard this ploy time and time again. The routine is well-established and trotted out every so often to convince the credulous that somehow the government is “hiding” the “truth” that vaccines cause autism while paying off the parents of vaccine-injured autistic children.

It’s a transparent ploy for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the standard of evidence for the Vaccine Court is what has been referred to as “50% and a feather.” Basically, it’s the same standard of evidence as any other civil court: a preponderance of evidence.”

Ah, where to begin…

I love how Gorski accuses Mr Kirby of being so “2005 or 2006.” Certainly ironic considering that Gorski has been spewing his idiocy for how long? I also enjoy how he calls HuffPo a “wretched hive of scum and quackery” (Weeee!! Another childish Star Wars reference…how trite). But, of course, his site is totally science-based and unbiased, correct? Finally, notice the final comment there…a preponderance of evidence. This is very important in this case because we have all heard, time and time again, that Gorski is evidence-based. Except when there’s evidence that contradicts his previous bias. In other words, he’s “science and evidence based,” except when he doesn’t like the evidence.

He begins discussing Mr Kirby, throwing out his usual fallacies and vapid insults, then goes to the actual meat of the article (after about 1000 words).

Here’s where it gets hilarious.

In addition, although Ryan clearly has neurological problems, as Catherina points out there is no evidence of actual autism. In fact, if you go and look up earlier records, you’ll find that the child did not demonstrate any ASD behaviors on CHAT screenings:

On May 10, 2004, at Ryan’s sixteen month well-child visit, Dr. Armstrong completed a Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) screen. Ps’ Ex. 4 At 25. That CHAT screen indicated that Ryan was interested in other children, pretend play, peek-a-boo, points with index finger, makes eye contact, and brings object for show. Id. On January 25, 2005, Dr. Armstrong examined Ryan for his twenty-four month well-baby check. Ps’ Ex. 4 at 31. During the visit, Dr. Armstrong conducted another CHAT screen, and again Ryan postively (sic) performed each of the listed behaviors.”

Which is exactly the point. Ryan did not show signs of an earlier ASD. After his reaction, though, he certainly did. Gorski implies, without evidence, that Ryan did not actually have autism.

“Ultimately, the Vaccine Court ruled to compensate Ryan’s family because he appeared to have suffered a “table injury” of encephalitis. Why it decided to do this is unclear, but Kirby hints at dark conspiracies (in his usual fashion), pointing out that “something changed,” implying that it was new evidence under seal that did it. Maybe. Maybe not. What is clear is that, whatever the reasoning for the court’s final decision, the court did not compensate the Mojabi family for Ryan having an ASD. From the evidence that is publicly available, it doesn’t even sound as though Ryan has an ASD.”

Ryan, indeed, has a diagnosis of ASD, according to his mother and his doctors. He was diagnosed with ASD in 2005. All he is doing here is speculation that he is trying to present as fact; a common occurrence with Mr Gorski

Next is the case of Emily Lowrie. Here’s what the moron has to say:

The second case discussed is Emily Lowrie, whose mother is Jillian Moller. Kirby, as is his wont, presents this case as David versus Goliath, with the government fighting to crush the child and her mother. (It is David Kirby we’re talking about, after all.) The story is actually somewhat different from that of Ryan Mojabi in that there was actually fairly convincing evidence that Emily suffered symptoms within two weeks of having received her vaccinations. She probably did suffer encephalopathy in close enough temporal association with vaccination to be, as the court ruled, a table injury. But evidence of vaccines causing Emily to become autistic? There is none. In fact, unlike the case of Ryan Mojabi, autism or autism spectrum disorder isn’t even mentioned in the ruling.”

First off, I laughed heartily at his description of Mr Kirby’s representation of the case. How many times have we heard how Gorski is attempting to topple the “pseudo-science propaganda?” Project much, Mr Gorski?

I was genuinely surprised that he agreed with the evidence that Emily suffered a vaccine reaction. It was a pleasant surprise. But I wonder if he somehow thinks that since she did receive an encepalopathy from the vaccination and subsequent brain damage, it’s ok as long as it isn’t autism.

My relief is palpable.

He then proceeds to rail against Mr Kirby for repeating the mother’s words in regard to her testimony and the subsequent judgment, calling it “conspiracy mongering.”

It’s a sure fire bet that whenever someone calls you a conspiracy mongerer, they have no interest in addressing your comment in any logical or reasonable way. It’s a way to poison the well and dismiss your claims without actually addressing the substance of the claim.

This is lame, even for David Kirby. It’s pure hearsay, the mother complaining about being “badgered” on the stand. That’s how the legal system works, and I understand how uncomfortable it can be. Your opponent’s lawyers can cross-examine you on the stand, and it can be very uncomfortable; then your lawyers get to cross examine your opponent’s witnesses. From the transcripts I read, there was at least one respondent witness who likely had a hard time on the stand. I realize that it might not seem fair that parents with a special needs child has to be subjected to cross examination, but that’s the way the legal system works. It would be nice if there were a better way, but even various review boards would rely to some extent on a bit of an adversarial system. More importantly, however, what we have here is a plaintiff claiming that her lawyer told her that the judge became very angry that she would have to compensate Emily once she was diagnosed with autism because she didn’t want to give antivaccinationists hope. Seriously? The judge would have to be pretty careless to say something so utterly stupid in front of a plaintiff’s attorney, or even where attorneys could overhear.”

But of course, using the mother’s own words to describe her experience is bad. That’s conspiracy mongering! And, how does he know that the judge didn’t say what she said? Was he there?

Besides, having followed cases going through the Vaccine Court since 2005 or so, I smell hyperbole. In every case that I’ve examined, not only have the Special Masters (who do most of the questioning of parents) not been confrontational, but they’ve bent over backwards to give parents a chance to tell their stories in as non-judgmental a manner as possible. True, various parents’ expert witnesses don’t always fare so well (given that more than a few of them in the Autism Omnibus were anti-vaccine quacks, that’s not surprising), but the parents themselves, as far as I’ve been able to tell, have not been subjected to the same sort of questioning. One wonders if Mrs. Moller simply can’t take having her story questioned even gently.”

This, right here, is the most telling statement in this entire article, and also the most thought provoking. Allow me to explain.

There is documented evidence that priests in the Catholic Church were abusing children. When this was first brought to the attention of law enforcement, the Church tried to dismiss these claims in the following ways:

  1. By dismissing the claims, calling the parents of the children conspiracy mongerers, thereby marginalising the parents and families. They would excommunicate the families.
  2. By claiming that the children were only trying to extort money from the church (read the above comment where Mr Gorski implies this exact thing)
  3. By claiming that there is no solid evidence that this was occurring (covering it up).

There are others, but those three are the most familiar to parents of vaccine-injured children.

Seeing Gorski’s reaction to the revelation of the two cases, I can’t help but wonder why anyone still thinks that this utter and complete fool is considered to be “science and evidence based.” His entire belief structure is based on faith; the belief that vaccines are safe and effective. It’s never the vaccines, and no amount of evidence will ever convince him otherwise.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The “Anti-Vax” Ten Commandments

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, some mouth breather posts an anonymous insult on a post that’s months old. Really, where did this come from, I asked myself?

“Self,” I answered, “Why don’t you back-trace where they came from.”

And lo and behold…David H. Gorski’s hive of droolers and lickspittles.

David didn’t like a comment left on someone’s Facebook page, apparently. Someone posted their own version of the 10 commandments that ridicules the pseudo-skeptics that infest the internet. The post was quite funny, in my opinion, and it was obviously meant to be satirical, something that Mr Gorski was unable to comprehend. Let’s see what he has to say.

"Although I’m interested in skepticism in general, I have a tendency to gravitate towards one particular form of pseudoscience (alternative medicine) and, in particular, a certain kind of that particular form of pseudoscience, namely antivaccine quackery. However, as much as I keep returning to the antivaccine movement, I keep noticing just how much it shares with other forms of science denialism and pseudoscientific thinking. I was reminded of this when one of my readers e-mailed me a link to a Facebook group, Pro-Vax Quacks. I have no idea who’s behind the group, but what I do know is that there’s a doozy of a post there that demonstrates one aspect of denialism that I’ve seen again and again and again, and that’s the desire to label science as a religion. I’ve seen it when creationists try to paint evolutionary biology as a religion. I’ve seen it when Holocaust deniers refer to “Holocaustianity.” And, of course, I’ve seen antivaccinationists do it by referring to “Vaccinianity,” even though I caution them about such terms.”

This is an interesting introduction, yes? And in case you were wondering, that was indeed sarcasm. Really, it’s his typical ego masturbation along with his usual dose of smug. But what’s interesting is his curiosity about why so many people call the belief in vaccination a religion.

”Why are denialists so eager to label the science they hate as a religion? The reason is simple: They can’t win on evidence, and, at some level, I think they know it. More importantly, because they didn’t use science and reason to come to their views on vaccines, as much as they claim they did and delude themselves into believing that they did, they presume that scientists didn’t come to their views on science, be it vaccines, science-based medicine, anthropogenic global warming, evolution, or whatever science is being denied. Besides, it’s much easier to dismiss something if you can convince yourself that it’s just another belief, rather than being rooted in science, reason, and evidence, as the safety and efficacy of vaccines are. So that’s what vaccine denialists do.”

It’s because it’s like faith. No amount of evidence, ever, will change their belief. They constantly and consistently try to force their beliefs on those who want nothing to do with them, and when that person refuses to be bullied, they label them “anti-vaxxer” and then shun them. This is exactly similar to the more fanatical factions of Christianity trying to force their beliefs on others, then calling them heretics when the others refuse to be bullied. Sort of like the Westboro Baptist Church that Mr Gorski carries such an interest in. Like calling to like, maybe? This is demonstrated in the above comment when he claims that parents delude themselves into believing that vaccines are injuring children. Many of these parents don’t just come to this conclusion out of the blue, like Mr Gorski implies.

Anyway, Mr Gorski thought it would be a good idea to come up with his own version.

“I realize it’s a really, really obvious thing to do, but I can’t resist meeting a set of Ten Commandments with a set of Ten Commandments. So, here for you are the Antivaccinationist Ten Commandments:”

Yes, it is obvious. And derivative and unoriginal, too. So, without further adieu, allow me to present to you David H. Gorski’s Ten Commandments.

And my responses to them, of course.

”1. Correlation is the LORD Thy God, who brought you out of the depths of despair and provided you with something to blame for your child’s autism even though it is no one’s fault. Thou shalt have no other gods before it and accept correlation as always being vaccine injury.”

This is a massive strawman here. And I mean big! No one claims that all vaccine injury causes autism. But it’s interesting that when someone says that their child had a vaccine injury, it’s always a coincidence. There is no way possible that a vaccine could actually cause an injury. Oh sure, they say they believe that vaccine injuries occur, but the reality is entirely different. We must go by their actions, not their words.

”2. Thou shalt make unto thee a graven image that is Satan, and that graven image shall be in the shape of a syringe. For vaccines are evil, and any health problem your child has will always be the fault of the vaccine. Always.”

Again, another strawman, as well as a generalization fallacy. Not everyone whom he labels heretic is completely against vaccinations. And, again, I fail to find evidence that all heretics believe that all health problems are caused by vaccines.

“3. Thou shalt always take the name of vaccines in vain, because vaccines are evil and detested of God.”

This is just a rehash of the strawman and generalization fallacy mentioned in #2. Apparently, he was incapable of coming up with something more original.

”4. Remember the day of “too many, too soon” and keep it holy, so holy that you give no vaccines ever unless forced to by evil pharmaceutical companies.”

This one had me scratching my head. He’s really reaching here to try to come up with something to post. It’s quite pathetic, actually. But the very fact that people are being forced to receive vaccines made by companies that are well known and documented for lying about the safety of their products seems to not bother him in the least adds further veracity to the religion claim, doesn’t it?

”5. Honor Jenny McCarthy and Joe Mercola, so that pathogenic bacteria may live long in the babies’ bodies the LORD thy God giveth thee, at least until some of them start dropping dead.”

Sure enough, another strawman! It’s been torn apart many times, even on this site, about Ms McCarthy’s claims. Additionally, many parents of children who are vaccine injured were involved with the vaccine/autism debate long before Ms McCarthy lent her voice to them. Not to mention the ad hominem attacks against both she and Dr Mercola.

“6. You shall murder by increasing the number of unvaccinated.”

Nice, David…accusing parents of murder with absolutely no evidence other than you say so. Here’s the best part, though…most of these parents he’s accusing of being anti-vaccine? They’ve vaccinated their children! Until the neurological health outcomes of unvaccinated children are truly investigated, parents are going to continue to fight for their parental rights to refuse medical procedures.

”7. Thou art married to “biomed” quackery forever. Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Again, another strawman and another generalization fallacy. If one believes that a vaccine injured their child, then they must also believe in biomed, according to David. Hard to believe this nut-job is a doctor, isn’t it?

”8. Thou shalt steal denialist tactics and use them to denigrate the evil vaccines.”

I had to do a little research on this one. But once I found it? Well, let’s just say that David owes me a new monitor. Conspiracy theories…this is simply an ad hominem fallacy. Not only that, but he’s mentioned before that there’s likely a conspiracy of parents who are trying to suppress vaccinations. Cherry picking? Oh, my goodness, he’s never done that, has he? False experts? You mean like Max Witznitzer and Eric Fombonne, who were paid to testify against parents in NVICP cases? Logical fallacies…like the ones mentioned in this very article? Attack the opposition? You mean like what happened to the former owner of this site by a truly disgusting little stalker?

”9. Thou shalt bear false witness against vaccines as often and outrageously as possible.”

This shows both the depths of his own idiocy as well as the depths of his own self denial. The implication here is that parents are making up these vaccine injuries. If that doesn’t speak to how loathsome this cretin is, then I don’t know what does.

”10. Thou shalt not covet the real science, because you can never have it as long as you blame vaccines for conditions for which there is no evidence of causation by vaccines.”

And in this very comment right here, he proves the point of the person who wrote the article he’s mocking. Nothing, no matter how compelling, no matter how sound, will ever convince him that vaccines aren’t as safe as the companies that make them claim they are. None of the studies that have shown damage caused by vaccines are good enough for him, and he will never turn a critical eye to the studies that verify his own personal bias. Oh, and let’s not forget about his idea of the real science. The real science, I might add, that has only been done by parties with vested interest in the outcome of the studies.

Then, David further makes a fool of himself by making the following comment about my good friend:

”Also, if his blog is any indication (before today I hadn’t checked it in a while), he’s still rather obsessed with me. Most of his posts appear to be rants directed at me, even the recent ones I hadn’t seen before, although I do note that in his most recent post (from April) he says he realizes he was getting repetitive with his attacks on me and decided to go after Seth Mnookin instead for a change. I must say, I’ve never had anyone start a blog dedicated almost completely to attacks on me before. I don’t know whether to be flattered or appalled.”

First off, Craig hasn’t run this site for almost a year. Secondly, my “rants” against him are actually humourous musings about Gorski’s infinite arrogance and stupidity. And lastly, the blog is not just dedicated to Gorski. However, Gorski’s mumblings are certainly the easiest to pick apart and ridicule because he just gives us so much of it. Sometimes, I don’t even know where to begin. Plus, he just makes it too easy.

So, there you have it, folks. Ten commandments and Eleven logical fallacies.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Seth Mnookin: Bald-faced Liar, Utter Hypocrite, or Both?

I thought I’d give Gorski a small break. I mean, how often can you comment on his narcissistic ego masturbation and mind-numbing hypocrisy without it growing stale?

Instead, I thought I’d focus on an article I read by Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin.

Seth doesn’t like Dr Bob Sears. Not at all. Seth accuses Dr Sears of being a “first-rate huckster” who is only motivated by greed, not by the genuine concern for his patients. All while Seth makes money from his book.

I won’t go into too much detail about the article itself. Seth mainly pulls a Gorski and pats himself on the back about how “sciency” he is. He goes on to mention an exchange between him and Dr Sears concerning child zero in the killer California measles epidemic of 2008, where a whopping 17 children were infected and recovered with absolutely no adverse effects from a relatively benign (here in the US) childhood illness.

Dr Sears responded to this accusation, saying that he was not patient zero’s paediatrician, and that he never spoke with Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin. Seth responds that he did, indeed, have a discussion with Dr Sears, and links to a recorded exchange between he and the doctor from 2008…almost 4 years ago. Then he goes on to mention an email exchange back in 2009…almost 3 years ago.

Could it be absolutely reasonable that Dr Sears may not recall a brief exchange that he had with some hack journalist that he never actually met in real life? Nah…couldn’t be possible.

Instead of accepting this very real possibility, Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin accuses Dr Sears of lying. He links to newspaper articles showing that Dr Sears’s office was the origination point for the deadly Measles epidemic of 2008.

According to one of their own Vaccine defenders, Science Mom, the index case was from a Children’s Clinic in La Jolla. Dr Sears’s office is in San Diego. So, it would appear as if Dr Sears was telling the truth about the index case. Curiouser and curiouser.

Going to Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin’s site and perusing his comments on this article, I see the commenters, and Seth, continuing to repeat this lie. So, being the trouble maker I am, I left a comment, shown below:


Click to embiggen

If the comment is too difficult to read, here it is again;

“And the proof that the child wasn’t one of Dr. Sears’s patients is here:

Now, will Seth be honest and retract his defamatory statement about Dr. Sears, I wonder? I have my betting pool ready…”

Now, you’ll notice that the comment was left on Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin’s site two days ago. My comment has still not shown up, so I can only assume that it is either still in moderation, or it has been removed. Remarkable.

Which is outright hilarious when you take into account a comment that Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin (hey, don’t laugh…Gorski uses this trope all the time...just returning the favor) left on his site:

“Example #10882 of why it’s so much easier to prove your point when you don’t censor comments and let people show themselves to the world.”

I will give him a few more days to see if my comment shows up. But for now, it is pretty clear that Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin is both a liar and a hypocrite.

I’ll let you, my dear readers, decide.

Addendum: So finally, 3 days later, my comment shows up. Interesting that it didn’t show up until after I made this blog post. Also, I still don’t see him retracting his statement about Dr Sears. So, my assessment of Seth-not-a-doctor-not-a-scientist-Mnookin remains unchanged.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Can Anyone Say “Hypocrite”?

I’d been meaning to discuss this previously, but got entirely too busy and had to put my thoughts concerning this on hold for a while. So, here it is for everyone’s amusement.

One thing that never fails to amuse me about the false skeptic community and the “Science-based” bloggers and their squealing groupies is the laughably outrageous hypocrisy they spew. In fact, this is the very reason that my predecessor created this site, and the very reason that I continue it. What better to show just how unreasonable, unscientific and un-skeptical a group is? Point out their hypocritical and non-scientific behaviours to show the world just exactly what they are dealing with.

This remains true in David Gorski’s rant, A school board president abuses his position to promote an antivaccine movie. Honestly, it’s nothing new that anyone who is familiar with Gorski’s odious verbal butt drippings would be in the least bit surprised about. In it, he injures his arm trying to pat himself on the back. In fact, the majority of his rant is a recant of a post he made several months ago. The man is so caught up in his narcissism that he has to link to his own drivel to stroke his already enormous ego. Really, I’m not kidding. The man is just that caught up in his own self absorption.

However, surprisingly, this isn’t what I really wanted to talk about. I wanted to discuss a comment made on this article from one of his more ardent and vicious sycophants named lilady. I’ve discussed my encounters with this particularly dim-witted lickspittle previously, so I won’t pull a Gorski and regurgitate it here again for my own self-gratification. Instead, I will replicate her idiocy and then comment on how hypocritical it is, giving examples from her very idol to prove my point.

Here’s the comment:

“Orac, I spent the better part of yesterday looking into this letter writer and confirmed the Mr. Marvel, is indeed, the president of board of the San Ramon Unified School District.

I also sent an email to the District's school superintendent, Steven Enoch, objecting to Mr. Marvel's personal agenda, written on school board stationary.

Mr. Enoch, via return email, requested my phone number, which I provided along with your blog that reviewed "The Greater Good" film, and he called me to discuss the matter.

Mr. Enoch stated he was unaware of the letter and that it certainly did not represent school district policy. I, in turn, provided some information about AoA, its political arm (the Canary Party) and their anti-vaccine activities.

Due to my involvement with many school boards in my State, I offered up my opinion that Mr. Marvel abused his office and should be sanctioned by the California School Boards Association:

Mr. Enoch will be speaking directly to Mr. Marvel about this letter and I will be following up, either at the district level or with an email to the California State School Boards Association.

I located this website for immunization rates for Contra Costa County, where San Ramon is located:

Rates for complete immunizations for school entry are (relatively) high for Contra Costa County, compared to some adjacent counties. I'd like to see that those rates remain high.”

I’ll leave that here for a few moments to discuss something that happened to Mr Gorski a while back. Gorski was (rightfully) appalled at a comment left on Age of Autism where someone encouraged other commenters to contact Mr Gorski’s place of business and discuss with them Mr Gorski’s moonlighting activities. His sycophants moaned and cried about how horrible the people at AoA are for doing something like that. In fact, one of Gorski’s more dull-witted morons that goes by the name of Ren (epi-ren) still cries(almost a year later) about how one of those mean, evil anti-vaxxers tried to get him fired.

Yes, this is horrid behaviour. Yes, I agree with Gorski and Ren that it is disgusting.

Which is why I’m currently laughing myself silly by lilady’s comment. Notice the hypocrisy? Notice that she called the school board in an attempt to get Mr Enoch reprimanded or fired? It goes even further; in a later comment, she encourages other commenters to contact the said school board to file legal action against Mr Enoch:

@ Liz Ditz and the RI Regulars: You are amazing Liz and have been very busy this past weekend.

I just sent the SkewedDistribution link to Mr. Enoch, School Superintendent and requested a time frame for the retraction of that letter, by Mr. Marvel.

IANAL...but I checked legal opinions about school board members' sanctions at the California School Board Association. There definitely are legal precedences concerning cases that deal with a school board member that has either stated publicly...or written a letter, that misrepresents the position of the school board. In fact, the Association has sent amici curiae briefs to various California courts, supporting the ability of a board of education to sanction the person who misrepresented school board policy.”

Do as I say, not as I do, right? Again, I will reiterate how loathesome and disgusting I find this sort of behaviour. In fact, that is the main reason I choose to remain anonymous with my activities, specifically because of what happened to my good friend and because of repulsive little twits like this lilady person.

Here’s a comment that lilady made on Dave’s hate-site that had me laughing so hard, I ruptured something:

“@ Sauceress: You made my day! I love their defense of Wonder Boy Jake's latest foibles by attacking Orac, Marc, Chris, Reuben and me and delight that I am in such company.

The lead in to the blog was a classic about the the little cartoons that they consider "humor" and our indignity about the sheer filth and disgust that any website would even consider publishing them.

No, we don't libel researchers, we don't start letter writing campaigns to destroy anyone's career and we don't encourage people to threaten any of their quack doctors.

Any repercussions to their pathetic careers is an "inside job"...they sow the seeds of their own lack of credibility and their own destruction by their words and their deeds...pathetic.”

Don’t libel researchers? Don’t start letter writing campaigns to destroy anyone’s career? Don’t encourage people to threaten doctors? Oh, my word…I haven’t laughed like that in a long, long time.

If anything, it’s an amusing diversion to laugh at these revolting, small-minded hypocrites.