Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why a Biased Pseudo-Skeptic and False Scientist Should Not Publish a Scientific Review on a Subject He Knows Nothing About.

Some of you may be wondering why I’ve been so quiet lately. In all honesty, I’ve been busy. However, that does not stop me from doing research on various subjects, nor does it exclude me from finding an interesting research article and waiting to see what happens.

Early last month, a new study was released that correlated a link between aluminium adjuvants in vaccines and a surprising number of auto-immune disorders, including Autism. You can read the abstract of the study here.

I waited and watched to see who would try to discredit this study, and how they would try to do it. Our good “doctor” David H. Gorski was the one, and he did not disappoint. Now, I get to have fun picking apart his rambling and monotonous diatribe.

People wonder why I accuse Dr Gorski of pseudo-science and crankery. The answer is simple; he pretends to be a knowledgeable scientist, when in fact, he has no training or legitimate background in many of the subjects he discusses, all while giving the impression that he does. Not only that, but as you’ll see from the below deconstruction, he falls into the exact same traps and fallacies that he accuses others of. Allow me to demonstrate.

In his rambling and spittle-flecked rant entitled And global warming is caused by the decrease in the number of pirates or: Why an inorganic chemistry journal should not publish a vaccine epidemiology paper, he begins with a mocking dissertation on how much fun he’s been having with “anti-vaccine cranks” over the past few days. Observe:

“In my eagerness to pivot back to an area of my interest after having had a little fun with anti-vaccine cranks, I ignored a paper to which several of my readers referred me over the last few days. Many of them had first become aware of it when everybody's favorite smugly condescending anti-vaccine crank, Ginger Taylor, started pimping it on her blog.”

While he smugly and condescendingly does the same. Continuing:

“Before that, it apparently popped up on the only anti-vaccine site almost as loony as Age of Autism, namely SaneVax, and it wasn't long before this paper started making the rounds of the anti-vaccine crankosphere, showing up at Gaia Health, and then just yesterday the anti-vaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism. It was at that point that I decided that I had made a mistake in not taking a look at this article; so I was more than happy to do so.”

I’m sure you can all see what he’s doing here and I’ll allow you the opportunity to read that paragraph again, knowing that he is attempting to color his readers’ opinions on what the article will contain. Poisoning the well, anyone?

He duplicates the abstract, and then follows with this:

“I thought I knew all the major quackery websites out there, but somehow I had never come across this one before. It appears to be a doozy, posting a glowing review of the anti-vaccine movie whose misinformation and pseudoscience I deconstructed three weeks ago, attacks on Brian Deer for his exposing Andrew Wakefield for the fraud he is, and, in a classic case of crank magnetism, a heapin' helpin' of anthropogenic global warming denialism.

Already, things aren't looking too good.”

Indeed, Dave, they are not. Look here, my friends. He further attempts to color his readers’ opinions on what the article actually contains, not even bothering to discuss the actual science. Moving on:

Still, I pride myself on always going straight to the source when examining studies like this that are being bandied about the anti-vaccine underground. Who knows? Maybe I'll find something to change my mind. True, it's highly unlikely, but you never know (Gambolputty – Oh, dear…I got a lovely chuckle out of that one!). I was, however, curious just who the authors are. Christopher Shaw, I had heard of before. He was featured in the anti-vaccine propaganda movie The Greater Good and gave a talk at the anti-vaccine conference in Jamaica featuring Andrew Wakefield in January. His co-author Lucija Tomljenovic is apparently a postdoctoral fellow who was also a speaker at that very conference, giving two talks there.”

More of what I mentioned above. And that is just the introduction! Not only that, but we have a heaping helping of an ad hominem fallacy and guilt by association mixed in, don’t we?

Already, we see that he has established that he is biased against the paper. A real scientist would read the paper objectively, not with the antagonistic bias we see here.

So let's get to the meat of the article, such as it is. Personally, after reading it a thought kept going through my head, namely that chemistry journals (particularly journals devoted to inorganic chemistry) probably shouldn't be publishing medical articles. The editors and peer reviewers, so enamored with an apparently strong correlation, fell for the oldest crank gambit in the book: Confusing correlation with causation. Perhaps the most irritating part of the article is how Tomljenovic and Shaw misuse and abuse Hill's criteria, a famous set of nine criteria postulated by Sir Austin Bradford-Hill for assessing the plausibility and likelihood of a particular correlation indicating causation. I discussed Bradford-Hill's criteria before when Andrew Weil also misused and abused them.”

Finally, he starts discussing his interpretation of the science. Notice his sneering contempt for a legitimate research journal. Can anyone see the huge and glaring error he made in the above paragraph? Don’t scroll down until you can see what it is.

That’s right. He accuses the authors of the article of confusing correlation with causation. Let’s look at the relevant sentences that state what the authors concluded, shall we?

“The application of the Hill's criteria to these data indicates that the correlation between Al in vaccines and ASD may be causal. Because children represent a fraction of the population most at risk for complications following exposure to Al, a more rigorous evaluation of Al adjuvant safety seems warranted.

The emphasis is mine. It’s interesting…they say that the correlation requires more study, and that the correlation may be causal, not that it is causal. Notice how he twists and manipulates what is actually said in the conclusion. In any study that comes to this sort of correlation/conclusion, it is an excellent idea to study the correlation more concretely. His invocation and interpretation of the Bradford-Hill criteria will be approached further down. Keep in mind that Gorski’s interpretation of the criteria is, in his monochromatic view, the only interpretation that matters. Let us continue.

Perhaps the silliest aspect of this article is Table I, in which Tomljenovic and Shaw try to convince you that the inflammatory aspects of various autoimmune diseases share aspects with inflammation provoked by aluminum adjuvants. Of course, I'd be shocked if some autoimmune diseases didn't share some aspects of inflammation provoked by aluminum adjuvants or even vaccines in general. Inflammation is a common process that can be provoked by many things. I could tell you that the cytokine profiles that Tomljenovic and Shaw point to as being so "similar" to cytokine profiles due to aluminum adjuvants are the same sorts of cytokine profiles that result from almost any sort of injury. If, for example, as a surgeon I cut open your abdomen in order to rearrange your anatomy for therapeutic intent, I bet I could find studies with cytokine profiles that I could tenuously compare to cytokine profiles due to vaccination with aluminum-containing vaccines.”

This is an interesting argument. However, the fact that these markers were present is cause for concern. These markers should not be present in anyone if vaccines were as safe as Mr Gorski would like you to be brainwashed to believe. The authors even go so far as to provide links to previous studies that corroborate their reasoning. I’ll get to those shortly. For now, we will continue with Gorski’s analysis.

In fact, perusing the chart I'm struck by how tenuous the resemblances between inflammation due to autoimmune diseases and inflammation due to aluminum adjuvants is. Presumably this is the best these two could come up with, and their best just isn't all that convincing. None of this stops the not-so-dynamic duo from including autism and Gulf War Syndrome on their list. The latter they characterize as being "specifically recognized as 'Autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants," which is news to me given that I thought the emerging consensus was that Gulf War Syndrome probably doesn't exist as a single distinct syndrome but rather as many health problems with different etiologes, much less is it recognized as some sort of autoimmune syndrome caused by vaccine adjuvants. After all, none of the anthrax vaccines soldiers received prior to going to the Gulf used squalene adjuvants. Meanwhile, autism spectrum disorders are listed in the chart as being "linked to Al-adjuvanted vaccines." I suppose that's true in the literal sense in that anti-vaccine activists have linked ASDs to Al-adjuvanted vaccines, but what Tomlijenovic and Shaw are doing is what lawyers like to call assuming "facts not in evidence." Again, there is no solid evidence linking vaccines, whether Al-adjvanted or not, to autism, and several large epidemiological studies that have utterly failed to find a link between vaccines and autism. Where were the peer reviewers here?”

Ok, this will take a little bit of time to deconstruct. Bear with me here.

Let’s begin with GWS, or Gulf War Syndrome. He states that none of the vaccines given to veterans before going to the Persian Gulf contained squalene-based adjuvants. He gives no reference to this, of course, but fortunately I was able to track down what he was talking about, which was an IOM funded study released in 2006. What he fails to mention (or deliberately omits) is that an FDA investigation in 1999 found 5 specific lots of Anthrax vaccines that contained squalene adjuvants. So, there is some controversy there.

However, let’s give Gorski the benefit of the doubt and say that his statement is somewhat true. Even if we take that position, then the authors’ statement is also true in that there has been evidence of adjuvants having been linked to GWS and autoimmune disorders in gulf war veterans.

Taking this position, then we can also say that there has been some data linking autoimmune dysfunctions in autistic children and that these dysfunctions have been linked to vaccines. Need I mention a certain beautiful little redhead we all know and love?

The "evidence" in the paper consists mainly of Tomlijenovic and Shaw comparing increasing ASD prevalence to the increasing number of vaccines in vaccine schedules in various countries, their argument being that increasing doses of aluminum through vaccines correlates with increasing prevalence of ASD. Basically, they collected data on ASD diagnoses for children from ages 6-21, from 1991-2008 from the US Department of Education Annual Reports for ASD prevalence. Next, they tried to correlate the autism prevalence in this group with the cumulative aluminum dosage they received before age 6 through the pediatric vaccination schedule. They then basically did the most simplistic analysis imaginable, plotting the minimum, mean, and maximum aluminum exposures against ASD prevalence. Can you say "ecological fallacy"? Sure, I knew you could.”

It’s fortunate that the authors used very simplistic means to plot their data. It clearly and succinctly shows a distinct correlation that in no way can be refuted. Dave attempts to do this in the most hilarious and hypocritical way; by invoking the Ecological Fallacy. He’s even kind enough to define that for us.

“To recap, because I haven't had to discuss it in a while, the ecological fallacy can occur when an epidemiological analysis is carried out on group level data rather than individual-level data. In other words, when the group is the unit of analysis, the chances of finding a false positive correlation go way, way up”

Can any of you think of any epidemiological studies released by the CDC and the Pharmaceutical industry that falls into this fallacy? Can you say all of them? Sure, I knew you could.

Add to this the fact that, for all the authors' claims that they controlled for confounding factors, by falling for the ecological fallacy they allowed huge confounders into their analysis. Even worse, they appeared to make no attempt to control for birth cohort other than to remove vaccines from their calculations that hadn't been introduced into the schedule at the time the children were vaccinated. (How nice of them.) In any case, although the diagnostic criteria used for autism and ASDs were set in 1994 in the DSM-IV, screening in schools, increased availability of services, and decreasing stigma to a diagnosis of autism led to an explosion in autism diagnoses. The way to control for this would have been to examine much more narrowly defined birth cohorts. They didn't. They used a single 15-year period. They also did nothing more than look for a linear correlation between aluminum dose and autism prevalence, citing r = 0.92, instead of calculating r2. The authors are incredibly impressed by this (and apparently so were the reviewers), even though it's not so hard to produce high Pearson coefficients for a lot of seeming correlations that in fact don't have anything to do with each other. The most heinous example I can recall is a ham-handed attempt to correlate abortion rates with breast cancer incidence.”

This is a somewhat absurd argument, isn’t it? This is a single correlative study that looks at a particular hypothesis and investigates correlations between a potential cause and effect. It is certainly not uncommon for such a preliminary study to congregate such data into a single cohort. In fact, plotting the data year by year (as was done here…I’ll post the chart shortly) reduces the chance of the same statistical manipulations that we saw in the Madsen studies. Here’s the chart:


Click for larger pic

Hard to refute the numbers, yes?

Given how common papers like this are from anti-vaccinationists are, I sometimes think it would be fun to play a game I'd like to call "Name That Correlation!" What other correlations with the increase in autism diagnoses can we find over the last 20 or 30 years? Let's see. Personal computer use has been rising since the 1980s. Perhaps that's the cause of autism! More similar to Tomlijenovic and Shaw's time frame, Internet use has exploded since the early 1990s. Back in 1990, few people had Internet access or e-mail addresses. (As hooked in as I am now, believe it or not, I didn't have Internet access back then, either.) Now almost everyone does, and Internet access has become truly mobile via smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android handsets. I bet a nice correlation between Internet usage and autism diagnoses could be constructed. Come to think of it, mobile phones, although first introduced in the 1980s, didn't really begin to take off until the mid-1990s. In the early 1990s, mobile phones were uncommon because they were so expensive and coverage was very spotty. Now, the nearly everybody owns one. The time frame of Tomlijenovic and Shaw's study fits the time frame of the rise of mobile phone use almost perfectly!”

Funny he should say this. My friends and I have created a game that is quite similar. We take these studies that show a correlation between vaccines and autism, and then take bets to see who will be most accurate with how the pseudo-skeptics and false scientists will attempt to refute it. The most humourous aspect of Gorski’s comment is his attempt to refute the evidence based on other things that could be responsible. The problem is, internet usage and cell phones have never been known to cause encephalitic reactions in children within hours of usage. I can certainly think of something that has, though. Can’t you?

Finally, Tomlijenovic and Shaw misuse and abuse Bradford-Hill's criteria. For example, they list criteria numbers one and two as being satisfied for aluminum and autism. Those are strength and consistency. The problem with these criteria is that they aren't supposed to be evaluated by one study. They conclude their association is strong because they have a high Pearson correlation coefficient, but their study is an outlier. It's not correct to say that the correlation is strong based on the totality of the evidence. Ditto for consistency, as, again, their study is an outlier, and, quite frankly, citing DeLong's execrably embarrassing study as a study that found a correlation between vaccine uptake and autism does not help their case. They also try to convince readers that one of Bradford-Hill's other criteria, such as biological rationale and coherence, have been met because of their attempt to make the tortuous vague resemblances between cytokine profiles they constructed seem like strong evidence for biological plausibility. Even worse, they try to use their confusion of correlation with causation as an argument that there is a temporal relationship between the purported cause and the effect. No, it's not. In fact, they have not convincingly met any of Bradford-Hill's criteria, much less eight out of nine.”

Ah, we finally get to Gorski’s biased interpretation of the Bradford-Hill criteria. I’ll give him the point that criteria one and two should not be determined by just one study, however, the Bradford-Hill criteria do not specify that the study shouldn’t be an outlier; this appears to be Dave’s own interpretation. But let’s go one step further and evaluate what is stated in the study.

Under Strength, they say that the association is statistically significant (consistent with the Bradford-Hill criteria for strength (here)). Looking at their data, then this falls within the criteria, so they’ve marked it as a “Yes”

Under Consistency, they say that several studies have found an association between vaccines and autism (true). Following the criteria (replication in other studies), then this is also given a “Yes.”

They gave sufficient reason for biological rationale in that there is a demonstrable association between auto-immune dysfunctions and cytokine response (this is a verification of Dr Poling’s work).

Here’s the table that shows how the authors demonstrated the Bradford-Hills criteria:


Click for larger pic

It’s clear to me that Mr Gorski does not like the results of this study. In fact, it’s quite clear that he began his analysis without an objective mind and used his own bias and misinterpretation of the Bradford-Hills criteria to make his own judgment on what the article is actually saying. For example, he repeatedly accuses the authors of confusing correlation with causation, when the authors do nothing of the sort. They clearly state that Aluminium adjuvants may be associated with autism and auto-immune disorders and give statistics and data to show how they came to this conclusion. I always enjoy how Dave likes to build strawmen and put words in peoples’ mouths.

In conclusion, I’d like to give you a definition of a pseudo-scientist and a crank.

  1. Cranks overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate that of acknowledged experts. (Gorski gives the firm impression that he’s an expert, and he dismisses anyone who disagrees with his view, despite them being real experts)
  2. Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important. (Gorski insists that all scientists agree with him, and any scientists who does not agree with him is not a real scientist)
  3. Cranks rarely if ever acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial. (Self explanatory)
  4. Cranks love to talk about their own beliefs, often in inappropriate social situations, but they tend to be bad listeners, and often appear to be uninterested in anyone else's experience or opinions. (How often does he blog? And the last half is self explanatory.)

I’d also like to add another; a crank dismisses evidence that does not conform to their pet theory, or evidence that they dislike. They will attack this evidence with an unmitigated rage.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Any questions as to why I say David H. Gorski is a crank and a quack?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Anti-science Slimeball Destroys an Immature and Witless Concept

I don’t often get to write on my blog. I’m sure most of you can understand this. The majority of us have jobs and other duties that require our time and effort, things that are far more important that blogging several times a day (I’m sure you can all tell that last dig was pointed at a certain doctor we all know and despise). However, I did promise that I would maintain this page and continue to point out the hypocrisies, lies, and general nastiness of those who are pseudo-skeptics and false scientists. People new to this debate need to see what type of people they are dealing with.

Such is the case for Dr Gorski’s latest childish screed entitled An anti-vaccine activist destroys my irony meter. Oh, where to begin? There’s so much irony and hypocrisy in this article…

Apparently, Jake Crosby was evicted from a recent conference where Seth Mnookin was holding a presentation. When the question and answer period came around, Jake took his turn, grabbing the microphone and asking a challenging question to Mr Mnookin about some of the more recent revelations concerning Dr Wakefield. Instead of answering the questions, Mr Mnookin asked for Mr Crosby’s removal.

Jake wrote an article about it on AoA, of course. He told his side of the story, and gave the reason that he thought he was removed. Several commenters offered their support of Jake, praising him for his tenacity.

Fast forward a little bit, and we have Orac and his bumlickers discussing this removal. Here’s what he has to say:

While I'm having a bit of fun with the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, I notice that its Boy Wonder Jake Crosby, the one-trick pony whose trick is playing "six degrees of separation" in order to try to link anyone who supports the science of vaccines with big pharma, the CDC, the FDA, or any other company or regulatory agency he doesn't like, has a new post up at AoA. In it he complains about being kicked out of a conference, the Research Ethics Book Group Lunch and Book Signing at the annual Advancing Ethical Research Conference held by Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIMR). The book being discussed was The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin. From previous times when Jake has tried to ask what he calls "challenging questions," the impression that I keep getting is that he tends to ramble a lot and monopolize the microphone, rather like the the Royal Rife guy did at the Trottier Symposium where I was a speaker in 2010.”

I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Pseudo-skeptics and false scientists don’t like it when you question them. They don’t like to be challenged; they hate to be contradicted. Anything that falls outside of their safe, happy little pseudo religion is heresy and should be shunned. Any person who speaks against them gets the treatment that Jake received in the comment above. Any scientist who disagrees with the false scientists are excommunicated, thrown from the fold and ridiculed endlessly. You do not question the consensus!!!

Whatever happened (and I'd love to hear Seth's version or an account from someone who was at the lunch of what really happened, given Jake's propensity to see things only in a way that makes him seem like a persecuted iconoclast and hero), Jake was apparently asked to leave. None of this is particularly remarkable, given that he was parroting the same nonsense about David Lewis having "exonerated" Andrew Wakefield that AoA has been pushing. In fact, I wasn't even going to mention Jake's post, given that getting himself kicked out of such conferences has apparently become an essential part of his anti-vaccine schtick.”

Much like getting kicked out of Autism One conferences is an essential part of his buddy Ken Reibel’s anti-science schtick. It’s ok when pseudo-skeptics do it, though, because they are doing it in the defense of the Holy Science! He doesn’t even bother to question whether or not there was a legitimate reason for Jake’s removal; he merely assumes that Jake was being disruptive and deserved to get kicked out. Of course, with no evidence. Oh, sure, he says he wants to hear the other side of the story. But the funny thing is, even if others corroborate Mr Crosby’s story, he’ll still say that Jake deserved it. Why? See my mantra above; you do not question or challenge the consensus!!!

Dear Dave then goes off on a rant about a comment made by Ginger Taylor. Essentially, she says that those who speak the truth are unafraid of the truth, and they welcome challengers and those who disagree with them to debate it with them. He begins:

“What caught my eye was a comment after Jake's post by everybody's favorite example of someone who thinks far more of her knowledge of science than any objective measure could justify, Ginger Taylor

David is of the firm belief that if you are not of the elite priesthood that he belongs to, then you have no right to speak your mind against The Doctrine.

Let's see. If what Ginger says is the case, then one of her favorite anti-vaccine conferences Autism One must not love truth. In fact, the it must hate truth. After all, its organizers have kicked out people who disagree with its anti-vaccine message each of the last four years. Let's see. It was Ken Reibel in 2008, Chicago Tribune reporter Trine Tsouderos in 2009, a department of health employee from a western state and an independent filmmaker in 2010, and Ken Reibel (again) and Jamie Berstein in 2011. During the last of these, the organizer of Autism One brought in the Lombard, IL police to expel Ken and Jamie. It was a case of massive overkill in the name of trying to prevent discussion and debate with someone who disagrees with them and knows how to dismantle their arguments.

Truly, my irony meter has been fried, fricasseed, and melted to the point of vaporizing. To hear Jake whine about being asked to leave a conference and then to see Ginger opining in her usual nauseatingly self-congratulatory smug fashion about how "lovers of truth" like her and her buddies in the anti-vaccine movement don't do this sort of thing were just too much for it. I wonder if there's some sort of titanium protective case I can buy for the next one.”

Oh dear…the irony meter comment. The good doctor is, one can assume, an adult. And yet, he repeatedly spews this nonsensical and immature garbage. It’s quite humourous, actually. But it does make me question his sanity.

However, since the good doctor was so kind as to provide us with links to his drivel (personally, I believe that he constantly links to himself due to his narcissistic ego masturbation), let me get to the point of this article. This has to do with what Orac and his arsekissers have to say about kicking people out of conferences.

Orac has this to say:

Remember how I've said time and time again that the anti-vaccine movement is very much like a religion, a cult even? One of the key attributes of religion is an intolerance for heretics, apostates, and unbelievers. The usual approach to unbelievers is either to try to convert them and then, failing that, to shun them (fortunately in most civilized countries Inquisition-like reactions are no longer common) or to skip the attempt to convert them and jump straight to the shunning. More evidence of just how true that is was presented on a silver platter to me at the anti-vaccine quackfest Autism One that will be wrapping up today in Lombard, IL.”

Wait a second…did you just read that? Why, yes, he did! He just admitted that Seth Mnookin is anti-vaccine! Why? Because Seth was intolerant of Jake as an unbeliever. He couldn’t convert Mr Crosby, so he shunned them. And, since Dr Gorski agrees with this policy when it applies to pseudo-skeptics and false scientists, then by his very definition of a crank, that makes him anti-vaccine by default.

Good job, David!

“As I've said time and time again. Despite the claims of the anti-vaccine movement and the sponsors of Autism One (which, as you recall, include Generation Rescue) this is not the behavior of an intellectually honest and open movement that wants to persuade based on science and reason. It is the behavior of a group that has something to hide, that prefers shunning and expelling those who aren't afraid to criticize it to open engagement and attempts to persuade based on the evidence. It is also the behavior of a group that thinks its members can't stand up to challenges and therefore need to be protected from criticism or contrary views”

Oh, thanks for clearing that up, Dave. So, you admit that Seth,and by association you (and your pseudo-skeptic community) are also being intellectually dishonest.

Hey, don’t look at me; I’m merely holding him to the same standards as he holds those he labels as pseudo-science or anti-vaccine.

“[T]he behavior of the conference organizers is indicative of fear, fear of being seen doing what they do, saying what they say, and selling what they sell. Scientific meetings are not like this. Skeptical meetings are not like this either; indeed, at last year's TAM, a moon hoax believer managed to get to the front of the line to challenge Adam Savage about the Mythbusters episode on moon hoaxers. He was not expelled; in fact, Savage respectfully answered him and he was later seen at various other events at TAM. At the Lorne Trottier Symposium last year, a believer in Royal Rife quackery asked about it. The panel only started to ask him to leave after the man wore out his welcome by dominating and monopolizing the question and answer session to the point where people waiting in line behind him were denied an opportunity to ask their questions due to time constraints. In other words, he got his say and was not asked to leave until he had reached the point of showing an extreme lack of consideration for his fellow audience members waiting to ask questions of the panel.”

So, he admits that real scientists do not kick people out of conferences for disagreeing with them. In fact, they welcome debate and disagreement. So, Orac is admitting that Seth Mnookin is not a real scientist (I agree), and that he (Mr Gorski)is also not a real scientists because he is agreeing with Seth kicking Mr Crosby from the presentation. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr Gorski!

Given this behavior, all I can ask is: What is Autism One afraid of[?]”

Yes, given this behaviour, what are Mr Mnookin and Mr Gorski afraid of? Are they afraid that they could be wrong about something? Oh, the horror!

I promised myself I would never do this. I promised myself that I would refrain from using one of Orac’s childish nerdisms that my good friend Craig bastardised. But I must…I absolutely have to.

The Hypocrisy! It Burns with the stupidity of a Thousand Oracs!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Cornerstone of Vaccine Safety Research?

By Gambolputty


I remember earlier this year when the Wakefield scandal reached its head. Craig and I poured endlessly over the GMC hearings, checking, rechecking, trying to determine where and what was wrong with the ‘98 Lancet study. He and I both realized that Wakefield was sloppy. Yes, I understand that many of my regular readers will disagree with this. I also share Craig’s opinion of Dr Wakefield, and I am unable to deny the fact that he was slovenly in his research. Did he fake his data? I’m still not completely convinced of that, but the evidence and motive for doing so is certainly compelling. Needless to say, the media had a field day. They celebrated the destruction of Dr Wakefield’s career. They applauded a biased hack journalist with an obvious vendetta. The airwaves were flooded for months with every lurid detail of the investigation. The false skeptics and pseudo-science windbags that infest the various “science-based” websites bragged and preened, saying that they knew all along. They crooned that the “anti-vaxxers” were too stupid to read the science and understand it. You see, they knew the study was faked, and they read the report with that preconceived notion in mind because that is how science works. Dozens of studies by prestigious organisations have shown over and over what the false skeptics have been saying all along. The matter was settled, the science has spoken. Vaccines do not cause autism.

I’m sure some of you are wondering why I bring this up. Not to worry, my point will be evident shortly.

Today I read an intriguing article about the 2003 Danish Thiomersal (or Thimerosal) study. This study is thought to be the cornerstone of the hypothesis that the mercury based preservative had nothing to do with the increase in autism. The study shows that after Thiomersal was removed from Danish vaccines, the incidence of autism continued to increase. So, the false skeptics said, that means that it is not in the least bit possible for vaccines to cause autism (yes, I know…big leap in logic there). The matter was closed, etcetera, etcetera.

Those of us who believe that vaccines can cause neurological damage often return to this study. If you truly read the study, and not the abstract of the study or its conclusion, you would see that the numbers just don’t match up. It’s quite fascinating, if you don’t mind me saying. During the course of the epidemiological investigation, Denmark changed its diagnostic criteria for autism. Not only that, but the inclusion criteria changed mid-study; where, before, autism cases were only included on an in-patient basis, after 1995, they were changed to include cases on an out-patient basis. The authors of the study claim to have accounted for these statistical artifacts, but have never released the raw data to show how they were able to account for this.

But today, an article shows a different story being told. Emails reclaimed through the Freedom of Information Act show that CDC scientists (who claim the fore-mentioned study was independent) and the study authors manipulated and omitted data to show that there was an increase in autism diagnoses after the removal of Thiomersal from vaccines. In fact, these emails show that the CDC knew that the cases of autism were actually decreasing! That’s right…after the removal of Thiomersal, autism cases actually went down in Denmark. Which tells us that the mercury based preservative does, indeed, have a statistical impact on autism diagnoses. This, in fact, further supports Verstraeten’s emails that discuss the increase of autism from TCV’s (Thiomersal Containing Vaccines) that stated that he couldn’t make the association “go away.” And, the CDC lied about it to protect the vaccination program.

The emails, heavily redacted, show that the CDC was aware of the decrease in autism post removal, and wanted to discuss this with the authors. The reply, from lead author Dr Madsen, says this:

“I am not currently at the university, but I will contact you and Poul tomorrow to make up our minds.”

I’m sure you are all familiar with who Poul is, aren’t you? That’s right, Poul Thorsen, who is currently being indicted on fraud and embezzlement. At the time, Dr Thorsen was in residence at the CDC while writing this article. Remember, the CDC claims that this study was independent, and one of their resident researchers was working for them while writing this paper. Which, to the CDC, means that the researchers who wrote this paper were independent researchers. Soon after, Dr Thorsen made a request to the director of the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (an office of the CDC) to expedite the paper into publication.

What’s interesting to me is how the false skeptics continue to praise how “good” the science is in this study because it supports their belief that vaccines aren’t associated with autism. Here is proof that the CDC and the authors covered up the fraud in their paper. Now, let me ask you this; are the airwaves rife with the sound of reporters covering this development? Are they shocked about the duplicity and fraud of the CDC scientists who misrepresented this study and its importance on the health of our children? Are they dragging the authors of this study through the mud like they did Dr Wakefield?

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I will mention it again. The hypocrisy of these false skeptics utterly fascinates me.

Now, I’m sure there will be cries of “Conspiracy Theorist” forthcoming, but I will take the time to mention this. It isn’t much of a stretch to come to the realisation that the CDC is doing everything in its power to protect the Vaccination program. Because, if it were to become wide-spread knowledge that they have been covering up information about the safety of childhood vaccines, falsely claiming that they are safer than they let on, then the faith in doctors, scientists, and the pharmaceutical giants would be shattered irrevocably.

Isn’t this, to you, a compelling reason to fake and manipulate data so that it shows that vaccines are as safe as they claim?

If they’ve lied about this, what else have they lied to you about?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Perils of Engaging Pseudo-Scientific False Skeptics

By Gambolputty


Hello, my friends. It’s been some time since I have had the pleasure to be blessed by your presence and enjoyed your comments and thoughts. As I said in my previous post, I would update this site infrequently. But, there are times when a tidbit comes down the wire that I find too irresistible, too juicy, to not pass up. All I have to do is look no further than our resident brothel of misinformation and pseudo-skeptical hypocrisy; Respectful Insolence.

It never fails to amuse me when those who subscribe to the “Skeptic” canard fall into the same accusatory rhetoric that they accuse their opponents of. For example, they foam at the mouth when someone draws devil’s horns on Dr Offit. They caterwauled and beat their breasts (and still do..and what has it been? 2 years now?) when Age of Autism posted an off-color picture of several “Skeptic” heroes having a Thanksgiving dinner that made allusions to cannibalism. They wailed and gnashed their teeth when someone makes a suggestive comment about a doctor being under the table servicing Dr Offit.

And then you have Orac’s latest crapfest, entitled “The Perils of Engaging the Public.”

Mr Gorski laments the fact that Doctors sometimes speak in public venues. He doesn’t like the fact that, when speaking publicly and allowing a period of questions and answers, that there may be someone who disagrees with their stance. Here’s what he has to say.

People wonder why scientists involved in controversial areas are reluctant to address the public. Courtesy of our favorite band of anti-vaccine bloggers at the anti-vaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, we see yet another reason why. Yes, AoA's resident attack poodle Jake Crosby decided to disrupt the Q&A session of a public talk (videocast here) by the editor-in-chief of The Lancet, Fiona Godlee.”

Resident attack poodle. Man, that’s classy, yes? Attributing a young man with diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome to a yapping animal? Since I am someone who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I am utterly and completely offended by this. But, let’s continue with the discussion:

“This is how cranks behave. They ramble on, monopolizing precious Q&A time without regard to the rest of the audience, and then, when the exasperated moderator asks them to get to the point, they "continue, undeterred." In this, Jake reminds me a lot of the Royal Rife guy who "continued undeterred" at the Trottier Symposium last year in Montreal after multiple requests that he get to the point and then, later, more pointed requests that he yield the microphone in order to give someone else a chance to ask a question. I will, however, thank Jake for mentioning Respectful Insolence. I like to know I'm making a difference in a young man's life.”

Oh, I love this. Since Mr Crosby found some of Fionna Godlee’s presentation inaccurate and mentioned those inaccuracies, then he’s “monopolizing precious Q&A time without regard for the rest of the audience.” And I doubt he is having any influence on Mr Crosby, other than derogatory amusement and a clear example of how doctors and scientists are not supposed to act.

The comments in Mr Gorski’s rabid diatribe are even better. For example, someone named lilady (whom I have reprimanded several times on various websites under another guise) opines:

“I viewed the was even "better" than I thought...Boy Wonder Cub Reporter Crosby starts his harangue at 54:06 into the video and continues his nasty rambling attack on Fiona Godlee for a full three minutes.

I stated it before and I am stating it again Jake does not have Asperger Syndrome. He blogged about his past experiences of being on prescribed zonking medication and receiving special education services when he was "misdiagnosed". IMO, Jake was probably diagnosed correctly with ADD or ADHD...and when he heard of the disease dejour- autism-he and his warrior mommy had him re-diagnosed with the Asperger Syndrome label and he became the poster boy for AoA.

He is just a nasty kid with an inflated ego fed by the sycophants at AoA.”

This is gold, isn’t it? I also viewed the video, and I’m having a difficult time seeing anywhere in the video where Mr Crosby was anything but unfailingly polite. It was clear that he was nervous, and I applaud him for coming forward and defending someone and something he believes in. The above commenter, though, believes that since Mr Crosby disagreed with Ms Godlee, then he was making a “nasty, rambling attack.” This is a simple, elementary concept that she is apparently unable to grasp. As I mentioned before, I’ve called her on it before. Just because someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean they are attacking you. This is obviously too difficult for her to comprehend, sadly. Not only that, she makes a completely evidence free statement, saying that Mr Crosby doesn’t have Asperger’s Syndrome, that borders on libel (since it is clearly meant to damage Mr Crosby’s reputation). And her final statement? Pure hypocrisy since Mr Gorski is just a nasty big kid with an inflated ego fed by the sycophants at Respectful Insolence. Keep in mind, also, that she claims to be a registered nurse.

Here’s another gem from a lickspittle named Marc:

“Wow--I think it's been a long time since I've seen such a diatribe as Jake's "heroic" recap of himself taking on Big Pharma directly. Incredible! Aside from referring to himself in the third person in the title (always a great sign that entertainment will follow), he misrepresents himself at the talk (he wasn't representing GW--he was representing AoA and hiding that makes him a fraud in my book)!”

How is he misrepresenting himself? He is a student there, yes? Doesn’t that mean that he is with GW? I highly doubt that Age of Autism sent him there. In fact, I can say with relative certainty that he went on his own. Mr Crosby has fixated on the Vaccine/Autism connection, Dr Wakefield’s part in it particularly, and he is pursuing that to the best of his ability. Those with Asperger’s do tend to fixate on certain interests, do they not? This, too, borders on libel in that it is clearly meant to harm Mr Crosby’s reputation.

Here’s another one from someone named Chris:

“I object to "attack poodle" because standard poodles are wonderful dogs. They are intelligent water retrievers (the cutting of their curly fur is to keep the joints warm while making it manageable). Unfortunatel dog breeders decided to "play" with the breed and created the "toy poodle." Those little yappy things are an abomination, especially the one that belonged to my paternal grandparents.

Young Master Crosby would be better described as an "attack toy poodle."”

Such classy people over at RI. True paragons of society, these.

Then someone named Reuben issues this following comment which sounds quite threatening to me:

“Oh, he goes to George Washington alright. And his professors are well aware of his representing himself as being from there without clarification of being just a student. They are not happy.

I personally can't wait to show up at his masters project presentation and ask some questions.”

Not only does that sound threatening, but Reuben clearly has intent to harm Mr Crosby’s reputation.

And lastly, Orac the Quack makes this statement:

“I have a lot of readers who are "on the spectrum" and rely on them to tell me when I've gone too far, which, fortunately, is rare. However, unlike Young Master Crosby, when I screw up and it is compellingly pointed out to me (i.e., pointed out in a way that persuades me), I do change course and try to make up for my mistakes.”

No, David, it is not rare. Nor would you listen if you were told you went too far. You don’t perceive this as a mistake because Mr Crosby disagrees with you. And you will continue to make denigrative comments as long as you are cheered on by your mindless sycophants.

So, in conclusion, Mr Gorski, who exalts himself for being someone who is a proponent of free speech, does not like it when people disagree with him. In fact, he thinks that people who disagree with the established paradigm should not have a say, nor should they be allowed to defend themselves or others. When speaking publically and allowing Questions and Answers, then those whom he disagrees with should not be allowed a say.

Why, that sounds remarkably like censorship, doesn’t it? This goes back to what my friend used to say. Do not question; do not disagree.

I am more and more convinced that Orac’s definition of Skepticism is nothing more than a fanatical religion trying to hide under the skirts of “legitimate” science.



Apparently, my post yesterday ruffled a few feathers. The responses were extremely amusing.

Someone named Sauceress had a sniveling tirade concerning my posting (and refused to link…hey, I linked to Dave’s drivel. At least Dave has the decency to link to the sites he quotes). She spends a good portion of her regurgitation taking my comments out of context and misrepresenting what I was actually saying. Not surprising in the least considering that this is their typical Modus Operandi. Then, she brings forth the completely mature and totally sane reference to the Irony Meter. Oh dear…

She concludes her rant with this:

“So in Gambolputty's eyes, showing up to ask questions infers intent to harm Mr. Crosby's reputation.”

No, but the tone implied in Reuben’s comment certainly did. Doesn’t help that she took the comment out of context and misrepresented what I actually said. Particularly the part where I mentioned that it “sounds threatening to me.” Oh well, I expect no less from Orac’s drooling brown-nosers. And here I was hoping that my post would meet their approval. After all, that is my greatest goal in life; to be adored and cow-towed to in the same way as their great and powerful master, Orac. Oh, whatever will I do, knowing that they don’t approve of my point of view? Oh, woe is me.

Reuben then chimes in, commenting that he in no way meant his comment as an attempt to attack Mr Crosby’s reputation, which is reassuring. However, he takes one step forward and two steps back with this:

“If that blogger has qualms about what is written here or elsewhere, why not come over for a chat? We can give them the dictionary definition of libel and let hilarity ensue.

The difference between this comment thread and their echo chamber is that bullshit is not tolerated. Had any of us been threatening to him, the rest of us would have called them on it.”

Why not come over here for a chat? No one is stopping you, and I don’t moderate. The difference between my comments and Orac’s is that a) I DO tolerate bullshit and promptly make fun of it and the person doing it and b) I don’t have a cadre of fawning arse-lickers trying to ingratiate themselves to me. And the definition of Libel is pretty easy to understand:

  • A published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation
  • The action or crime of publishing such a statement
  • A false and malicious statement about a person (claiming that Mr Crosby does not have Asperger's implies that he is lying about his condition. This is inherently defamatory)
  • A thing or circumstance that brings undeserved discredit on a person by misrepresentation (claiming that Mr Crosby was misrepresenting his status as a student of GW, claiming that he was using it to claim he was a representative, meets this criteria).

One of the reasons I don’t post over there is because I want Mr Gorski to have as little information about me as possible. The previous blog owner had considerable trouble with someone stalking, threatening him, and forcing him to go into hiding. I’d rather not have similar things happen to me, and I prefer to keep both my location and my employment a secret, especially knowing that these self-proclaimed “skeptics” are as petty and underhanded as those they ridicule.

Oh well…at least Orac’s mindless flunkies are completely predictable and entertaining in their own sadly pathetic way.


Further Addendum:

Someone named Antaeus Feldspar goes into a lengthy diatribe regarding my understanding of libel. While his comment is lengthy and somewhat informative, it suffers from a serious and quite obvious flaw; I stated, quite clearly, that it borders on libel. I never once said that it was libel.

Reading comprehension fail…alas.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Introductions Are in Order, and An Asinine Post on an Anti-Science Blog

by Gambolputty

Hello, everyone. Our dear friend MySocratesNote has stepped away from this lovely little blog and has passed the reins to moi. Some of you may have noticed my posting recently under this name, but I assure you that I have been posting online, countering the misinformation of those like Orac, Steve Novella, Stephen Barrett and others for quite some time (though under a different moniker). Now, I believe a little introduction is in order.

I have chosen to remain anonymous, and this is for a number of reasons. Firstly, I love my job, and I don’t feel comfortable revealing too much about where I work or what I do. Seeing what has happened to my friend here, I feel that it is best for me to maintain my anonymity. I will tell you that I am a teacher (among other things), and I will just leave it at that. For some time, I have been a silent contributor to this blog. So when MySocratesNote left it to me, he did so in the hopes that I would continue with his legacy and take the time to point out the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the false skeptic community.

So that is it, in a nutshell. Unlike some, I do not have the time or energy to post here daily (or in some cases hourly *cough* Kim Wombles *cough*). I will post infrequently, or when the mood suits me. But you can be assured that I will continue to try to post with the same amount snark as Craig did, but mixed in with my own humour and British witticisms.

Now, on to what I wanted to discuss.

Today, I glanced over at Mr Gorski’s (I refuse to give him the honorific) misinformation site and noticed that he is disturbed by an article written on Age of Autism. Then again, when is he not?

His latest excrement, “A Disturbing Post on an Anti-Vaccine Blog” is yet another tour-de-farce of logical fallacies and delusions of grandeur masquerading as a martyr complex.

The gist of this not so remarkable piece of fiction is that he his afraid; he’s concerned that Kent Heckenlively is promoting violence against some unnamed entity. He thinks that Kent has dropped off the deep end, and should be carefully monitored:

“Notice how Heckenlively refers to "Dark Forces." Not "dark forces," but "Dark Forces," capitalized, as though it's name or these Forces are so malevolent that they need to be capitalized, much as the Force in Star Wars was so important and powerful that it needed to be capitalized as a formal name. Worse, the imagery is downright paranoid. These Dark Forces, according to Heckenlively, are out to destroy the activists and "scientists" who have bought into the idea that vaccines cause autism, rather than the real situation, which is that they are trying to guard public health against the return of vaccine-preventable diseases that will occur if vaccination rates fall due to the sort of propaganda that AoA promotes.”

Notice how Gorski refuses to acknowledge that there have indeed been cases of corporate interests destroying the livelihood of those who threaten their profits. Tobacco did this for years. Pharmaceutical corporations have also been caught in the act of doing exactly what Mr Heckenlively said. “We need to find them and destroy them where they live.” What is so humourous about this is that Dave doesn’t seem to realise that this is commonplace in today’s corporate environment. He tries to paint Kent as a conspiracy monger and accuses him of paranoia and seeing shadows in dark places.

Oh, the irony.

“I have a hard time characterizing Kent's post as anything other than disturbing, if not downright scary. Think about it this way. When someone starts to view his opponents as "wicked people" deserving to be wiped out by God (or, as other translations of this particular psalm put it, to be "destroyed for their wickedness"), it's just a short hop to thinking that perhaps believers should take matters into their own hands and start smiting the evildoers themselves, thinking it doing the Lord's work. In any case, it's very clear that Heckenlively is, at the very least, praying to God to "deal with" those whom he considers to be "wicked people out there trying to keep our children from getting better." In the context of the psalm, "dealing with" these wicked people clearly means to destroy them.”

That seems pretty bleeding paranoid, doesn’t it? Notice how poor little Dave tries to milk as much drama from this as possible by saying that some translations of Psalm 94 call for the wicked to be destroyed, all in an obvious and transparent attempt to color Mr Heckenlively in the worst possible light. Only paranoid conspiracy theorists pray to God to destroy the wicked! Notice how he tries to twist the meaning of what Kent wrote and claim that Kent is praying for God to destroy the evil-doers. He says that “dealing with” these wicked people means that they must be destroyed. I’m quite certain that if Mr Heckenlively meant to use that particular translation of Psalm 94, he would have. No, it’s not clear that Kent is praying for them to be destroyed; he’s praying for them to be punished. But the half-witted twit has to make this more menacing, more ominous, by changing the meaning of the words to suit his own agenda.

Ah, poor Dave. So persecuted. Such a drama-queen.

“Heckenlively and I are clearly on different sides of the autism-vaccine issue. Even so, I have never wished ill upon him. Hell, I've never wished ill upon even J. B. Handley, even though he has frequently attacked me. Well, maybe just a little bit of ill, such as embarrassment for his ridiculous statements and his promotion of anti-vaccine quackery and that his efforts to harm public health fail. Certainly I have never wished that God Almighty destroy him or Heckenlively for his wickedness or publicly wished ill upon him. Yet here we have Kent Heckenlively praying to God publicly to destroy his enemies. Presumably, that would include me, plus a number of people who are my friends, acquaintances, and fellow travelers in promoting vaccination and refuting anti-vaccine pseudoscience.”

Smell that? No no, you don’t need to scratch your computer monitor as I am more than certain you can smell it from where you are sitting. That, my friends, is called Bullshit! He’s never wished ill on Kent or the people at Age of Autism? What about wishing that they would all go to jail for their beliefs? Or using one of his masturbatory fantasies that he describes as a “meme” to go after the anti-vaccine movement (chomping their brains)? Yes, I understand that it is his poor attempt at humour, but we all know that deep down in his cold, barren, childish and bent little mind that he fervently wishes for this to come true. Repeatedly, he twists Kent’s words to get as much drama as possible, all so that Orac can seem more saintly. Yes, Dave is such a martyr! Oh, what he goes through to distribute his moronic drivel to his drooling arse-lickers. I’m sure you can all hear him sighing with his burden. Also, it would appear as if Mr Gorski has a bit of a guilty conscience, yes? Orac’s paranoia is so deep seated that he thinks that Kent is actually calling out for violence to be done against him, that he should be destroyed for his wicked ways.

Then he closes with this shart:

“I don't know what is going on in Heckenlively's life right now that has brought him to this. The pain in his writing is palpable; he really does sound like a man on the edge, a man who is ready to break. I can only hope he finds a way to deal with whatever is going on in his life right now and return to a state of normalcy. We might be opponents when it comes to the issue of vaccines and autism, but, unlike Kent, I don't want God--or anyone else--to destroy anyone over this.”

Nor does he care. He’s too self absorbed in his own narcissism to care what happens to anyone outside of his myopia. Once more, he promotes the myth that Kent is praying for God to destroy him, all so he can make himself more saintly. I swear, reading this, you’d think that he was in line for a beatification.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Bid You All Welcome to Autistic Alms

Please, take the time to visit my new site, Autistic Alms. I’d like to make this site a sandbox of sorts that presents thoughts and ideas on how to help our children. At first, I’d like to post a few questions to my readers and allow them to discuss their thoughts. Also, feel free to write up articles of your own and submit them (you will get full credit, I assure you). I look forward to seeing you all there, and please, tell you friends!

We all need a little help now and then, and I would like everyone to stop by and post your thoughts. See you there…

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Farewells and Epiphanies

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 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?

*chirp chirp*

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!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Building Communities by Exclusion: Or, I accept everyone…except you. I don’t like you.

I promised myself I would back off from blogging for a while. I swore that I would focus on my work and my family and not get drawn into the stupidity and arrogance of the false skeptics and the pseudoscience nutjobs. We all know them. They are the ones who ridicule parents like myself because we believe that our children were injured by vaccines. They are the ones who laugh at parents of vaccine injured children, proclaiming that we have all the answers and that we think we know everything, all while arrogantly proclaiming to have the answers and that they know everything. They are the ones who make a game of mocking parents of vaccine injured children, then they become all offended that the parents fight back. They are the ones who cling so desperately to flawed epidemiological studies, and laugh that parents of vaccine injured children have no science to defend their hypothesis. And, when the parents offer a hypothesis, they refuse because they claim that there is no more to learn and that they already know what will be found. The same ones who laughingly mock a father who writes about his son’s first words in 5 years and how that made him feel.

And so I found myself clicking on a link that one of my Facebook friends sent me. Lo and behold, it was an article from a well known false skeptic, Kim Wombles. Yep, I’m sure you’re all familiar with her.

After reading her article titled, “The Reinforcements That Community Brings: Anti-Vaccine Narratives Provide More Drama,” I spent some time laughing uproariously…I mean, it tells you everything you need to know about bias and how illogical her article will be when she starts it off in the title with an insult and a generalization fallacy. I mean, my goodness, calling someone anti-vaccine and full of woo does so much to help build community and promote meaningful discussion, don’tcha know? So, I will point out what’s wrong with her article and then discuss what was said in the comments.

So, the basic essence of her article is that the online autism community has polarized itself. For the most part, I agree. People have taken sides in this discussion, and all sides think they are the right one. Though, personally, I don’t feel I’m on anyone’s side but the children's. I don’t agree with many of the things AoA does, and the same goes for the false-skeptics. So, I guess you would say I’m somewhere in the middle. That doesn’t matter to Kim, though. I’m either with her or against her.

However, there is more to what Kim is saying here. She has already decided that she is right and that everyone who doesn’t agree with her paradigm is wrong. She blithely continues to say that those that she has determined are wrong are not open to new evidence that contradicts their world view, so they should not be reached out to; i.e. they should not be made part of the community. Because she says she is “science-based,” then, to her, that means she is superior to those she opposes. So she should try to reach (read that as brainwash) those who are on the fence or who are moderate. These people can be persuaded to not think critically about what the Pharmaceutical industry publishes and tries to disguise as science and that they should believe everything they are told without question.

In other words, she has already made it clear that she is not open to new evidence that contradicts her world view. She creates polarization by claiming that those who do not agree with her are anti-science, anti-vaccine, or a dumbass, a tactic we see all to often in the false-skeptic community. She doesn’t even acknowledge that the tactics she is using are what created the whole polarization in the first place (“My child was injured by a vaccine.” “Correlation is not causation, so stop spreading anti-vaccine fears, dumbass.”). She accuses those who disagree with her of being like a religion who hold fervently to their beliefs. But, if you read this blog post carefully, you’ll clearly see that her and the rest of the false-skeptics are as well. I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, I will continue with my analysis.

She continues with a brief discussion about how Jamie Bernstein and Ken Reibel were removed from the recent Autism One conference. She goes on to say that the removal was due to Ken being recognized. Of course, I will give the benefit of the doubt to Ken and Jamie in that that may very well be how they perceived what happened because of their personal biases. However, the reality is quite a bit different than the perception, and this is something that Kim, I think, deliberately failed to disclose in her article. By their own admission, Ken and Jamie were breaking the rules of the conference by taking photographs of the event. The Autism One terms and conditions specifically state that no photography is allowed. Don’t believe me? Read the link. But Kim didn’t provide that info, did she? Reading her article, she leaves the impression that what Autism One did was wrong, and that those on “her side” wouldn’t do anything like that. And yet, she leaves out the part about the rules and how they were broken. Then, she claims that the “Science-based” side is more reasonable, and I tend to agree with this statement. However, it’s pretty clear that she, and those she associates with, aren’t actually science-based. I tend to think of people like PassionlessDrone as being someone who is actually science-based. Again, more on that in a moment.

Then she discusses (or rather complains) that “anti-vaccine” narratives are compelling, and that is what is causing their ranks to swell. She goes on to discuss how some at AoA complain about how those that claim to be “science-based” just try to discredit the speaker and don’t really address the science. I will step up and agree with Kim here and say that AoA does this too. And they can be pretty mean and nasty about it, just like Kim’s “science-based” nutjobs can be. She then makes a very curious statement.

“I don't know of any evidence-based individuals who have alleged that Wakefield is a nut. Dishonest. Unethical. Fraudulent. Greedy. But not a nut. And we really shouldn't care if McCarthy is a slut (not a phrase I've seen used against her unsubstantiated claims, by the way). If her claims are backed by evidence, whether she gets around or not is irrelevant. I think the argument has been that she's a Playboy bunny who doesn't know what she's talking about (and since she thinks antifreeze is in vaccines, it's fair to say she doesn't), but that's not the same as claiming she's a slut and should be ignored.”

Really? She hasn’t? She’s never seen Orac make statements that essentially boil down to, “She showed her bewbs, and I’m a doctor…you gonna believe her over me?” Or, maybe she’s seen people call her a killer? Naw….her “side” never does that…

Then she mentions how AoA focuses on Thorsen and his role in the extortion of a few million dollars, and then AoA’s focus on the fact that Seth Mnoonkin is a recovering heroin addict. Here’s what she has to say:

“The first is relevant and it's fair to ask what role he played in the studies themselves; the second is an actual attempt at an unjustified discrediting.”

And here, I will agree with her 100%. Nothing bad to say to this statement.

But then, she screws up the whole thing with this:

“How do you reach parents to show support and get there before those with more compelling, dramatic explanations convince parents that there are answers for why their kids have autism and that they can be healed if you just try the right mining chelator or other quack treatment? How do we create a vibrant, supportive community that lets parents feel comfortable in the absence of certainty while having the courage to withstand the temptation of promises of instant cures? How do we make our narrative more compelling than the vaccine-injury's?”

So, in other words, how does she prevent parents who have children who suffered from a vaccine injury from telling their stories? How does she censor their pain? How can she deny that these children exist and help these poor, stupid parents who are questioning vaccines understand that all of these stories that these crazy people talk about are all fake and never happened (Disclaimer: I am in no way implying that these questioning parents are stupid, just that this is how Ms. Wombles is coming across)? She talks about creating a vibrant, supportive community, but not if she calls you a dumbass…then, she is not interested in having you in her community. Then, she makes a wonderful generalization fallacy, i.e. that if you believe that vaccines cause injury, then you must be someone who uses mining chelators or quack treatments. And her final question, how to make their narrative more compelling? As long as she continues to treat those she disagrees with the way she does, she won’t. As long as she continues to claim that the vaccine injuries that these children experienced are somehow not real (oh, I know, if she ever reads this, she’ll say that she never does this. She’ll say that she believes that vaccine injuries do exist….but it didn’t happen to their kids), then it looks like she is in denial and is afraid of these parents and children. That does absolutely nothing to help her cause. In fact, this is the main thing that turns people away. The mocking, the ridicule, the snide comments about these parents who have vaccine injured children…yeah. That would compel anyone to join her “side.”

Now, onto the comments. I’ll begin with the one that caught my attention; a comment that a friend of mine left. He pointed out that Kim was being a bit hypocritical in her article (she was) and that it was downright funny that she claims to be science-based. She then returns, with no evidence, that he must be anti-vaccine. My friend responds with the observation that since he doesn’t agree with her, then in her book, he’s anti-vaccine, and such a comment without evidence is preposterous (it is…but I’m paraphrasing). She then accuses him of being someone else (without evidence again). At this point, I jump in (under a pseudonym, but I wasn’t really hiding who I was), saying that, using her logic, since she thinks he’s an anti-vaxxer, he must be so. And, since she thinks he is this other person, then he must be so. His next argument boils down to the fact that scientists don’t make definitive claims in the absence of all the relevant data (again, I’m paraphrasing). What follows is a highly entertaining exchange that I will copy here for your perusal.

This comment is from some nameless moron (Well, maybe he has a name, but he was so boring that I’ve forgotten it):

A comment like that is simply a twisted version of reality. Of course, scientists accept the possibility of being wrong, unless they're not wrong. How can they tell? Its called data. Scientists don't wonders if Newton's theories are wrong, every time they perform an experiment. They don't wonder if the laws of chemistry will hold up today. These are things that are known, and they are not going to be questioned, nor will any scientist consider the possibility that they are wrong.

This is typically a subterfuge to allow all manner of crackpot ideas in, because if they aren't taken seriously, the accusation is leveled that one is not being "scientific" by considering the possibility. However, that's not true. Science requires evidence and the evidence doesn't support the opposing views of the anti-vax crowd. Now, if someone can produce actual evidence and not simply anecdotes, or claims that others don't know what they're talking about, then perhaps there would be a basis for a scientific discussion.
So, your comment is disingenuous, since it isn't about producing additional evidence. You can argue that I don't know you, or don't know anything about you, but I don't really need to, since you've clearly identified the kind of person you are in your posts. You aren't interested in having a realistic discussion .... you simply want to post your agenda and "laugh" about it. Well, I hope you're amused, because anyone that thinks any of this is amusing, is truly the fool.”

You all know me…I so enjoy responding to comments like this:

Hmmm...what agenda? The fact that he was pointing out that Kimmie was being a hypocrite means he has an agenda? Brilliant!!

And I think you're missing the point. No, I'm are missing the point. From what I can gather from your post, you are saying that science has looked at all possibilities with vaccines and autism and that vaccines do not cause autism. This is an unscientific statement simply because of the fact that a scientist will not make such a claim without all of the evidence. If they haven't actually studied the children who are alleged to have developed autism from a vaccine, then the data is incomplete. No subterfuge involved in that whatsoever. Maybe a bit of paranoia on your part, though.
The amusement, in my opinion, is that those like Kimmie who claim to be science based and who then laugh about these parents who claim that their children were injured by vaccines, dismissing their claims without reviewing all of the evidence are the true fools, and that they deserve nothing but the same scorn and ridicule that they aim at those they disagree with.”

At this point, Kim jumps in with a comment that completely confused me:

“"Kimmie?" Ouch. I'm mortally wounded now, especially given how you read the piece on my personal blog about name-calling just a couple days ago. :-)

Yeah, yeah, we got it, you don't like me. I deserve your scorn. What's new?”

I hadn’t read her personal blog. I expressed my confusion, and she makes a childish innuendo about keeping secrets and that the post was a good one with “lots of flowers".” I told her she was being childish and I had no idea what she was talking about. Here’s her response.

Ah, here and I thought I was protecting your privacy and all.

Nah, I'll just share one of my favorites. Mint is lovely, isn't it, when it flowers?

Not only do you have the lovely scent, all the little blooms are gorgeous, and the bees and other insects love it. They flock to it.
Listen, you've obviously got some temper issues and I'm sure it's a tremendously liberating feeling and all to let that rage spew over and everything, but maybe you could go stand in a corner and tantrum instead? It'd probably be more productive for you. I hate to think of your blood pressure rising over my posts.

See, I've read rants like that before. A lot. And since you're not going to offer anything substantive other than to ratchet up the name calling and vitriol (nice work), then what's the point? Those kinds of rants don't work to get me irritated, just as the condescension you offer doesn't move me.
Didn't you get that's the whole point of this post? Neither side is going to be moved by the other side. Both sides have people on them who really despise the other side. We know that; it's not new. It's not changing. So why keep doing it? Unless it's nothing more than a solitaire game to you?
If you've read my first blog and have history with me (and you made that abundantly clear in what you've written here), then you know that I always from the get-go acknowledged vaccine injuries occur and that we need to do everything we can to make sure vaccines are as safe as possible. Why I even had someone (ahem) share his story because I think it's important people don't forget that vaccine injuries do happen.

What cannot be denied is that people change their memories, usually unintentionally, to match their current belief system. Memory is malleable. I'm not interested in arguing personal narratives (says so right on my blog on what I believe and why); with memory being so faulty and with the internet allowing records of changing stories, it just isn't worth it: the truth can't be figured out at a personal level. Not after the fact, and maybe not even during. Our biases cloud everything. At least when we're talking about how two events relate. We're good at making illusory correlations. Really good. Hey, maybe I'm even doing it now!

So, instead I'd prefer to focus on the scientific studies that show no evidence of a link between autism and vaccines. If 15 cases of

intussusception can be detected and linked to the first rotavirus vaccine through the VAERS reporting system, causing the vaccine to be taken off the market quickly, then why do you think a link between vaccines and autism couldn't be found?

Much more productive than rants and name-calling, especially without any substantiation. Of course, I'm a hypocrite, so what do I know?”

Wow! So much to pick apart there. I’ll leave my rebuttal for a moment and point out something. Notice how she complains about ratcheting up the vitriol and name calling? The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

So then, I explain that my calling her “Kimmie” was not done consciously, especially since my wife’s first name is Kim (well, Kimberly, but she goes by her middle name), and I call her Kimmie to tease her sometimes. Writing that in my earlier comment was entirely unintentional. Then, it occurred to me that Ms. Wombles was so paranoid that she had to go and track down and see who was commenting on her site and where they were commenting from. So, since I accessed the site from work, and someone from where I work likely accessed her site, then that person just had to be me. So, I gave her a brief explanation about how many corporate networks run, and that there are thousands of people who work in my company, and any one of them could have accessed her site and it would look like they were accessing it from one location. Such simple things are obviously beyond her. Then, I explained that what she perceived as a rant (she’s so touchy, natch…going off half-cocked at the littlest thing) was just me being highly entertained by her stupidity.

But what makes me laugh the most at her comment was when she started talking about rants and name calling without substantiation. Look above to see her rant, and look at my earlier comment to see how I substantiate my name-calling (I explain why I think they are fools).

So, then the idiot from earlier accuses me of being arrogant:

“Sorry, but you're simply an arrogant fool. I have neither the time or patience to waste with someone that understands science so poorly and thinks the whole issue is simply amusing.

This is an unscientific statement simply because of the fact that a scientist will not make such a claim without all of the evidence.

.. and you think telling stories is evidence? This is precisely why such discussions are a waste of time with people like you. You think that it's productive to keep pursuing avenues of investigation for which no connection exists, because you stubbornly assume that a connection must be there. Instead of recognizing that there is more to be learned, you insist on the validity of data which doesn't exist. The scorn and ridicule isn't based on disagreement. It's based on someone using pseudoscience as a vehicle for introduce crackpot ideas and even worse .... promoting agendas where people can profit off of others desire to obtain help and/or solutions.

Just as the point of Raun Kauffman mentioned earlier. Here is an individual that has supposedly found a solution, but instead of sharing it, seeks to personally profit from it. A series of thousand dollar seminars .... just as if he were telling you the secrets of buying real estate. Yeah, that's real credible.

If you truly had evidence, then you'd present it (and not simply more anecdotes from others that think science is wrong). If you truly had evidence, then you wouldn't be laughing about it and think its hilarious that others don't know the "secret". Instead, by your mere attitude, I can already tell that you're simply someone that likes to blather on and on about what science is, or should be without actually being capable of contributing anything yourself.”

Hilarious, yes? I take great glee in pointing out that he’s the pot calling the kettle black, and that he is making a claim (vaccines don’t cause autism) without looking at all of the evidence. You know, like the kids who actually got sick?

The rest of the article and comments are all there for you guys to enjoy. Do feel free to give her a piece of your minds.

Now, lets go back to what I was talking about in regards to her comment concerning religion. I’ll approach this from a different angle, though.

So, the scientific consensus is that vaccines do not cause autism, am I correct (well, no, not entirely, but let’s say yes for the sake of argument, shall we)? Anyone who disagrees with that statement, or is not completely convinced, is obviously anti-vaccine, and I am certain that you all would agree with that statement (using their logic, mind you). So, that would mean that the scientific consensus is considered “Orthodox” or “mainstream” and those that disagree with this orthodox view would be in variance to that doctrine.

So, what would you call someone who has an opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system?

A heretic. And how would those who follow that orthodox view treat those who oppose them?

Well, in medieval times, heretics were usually executed. Then, they were outcasts of society. So, tell me how many times you all have heard the false skeptics say that parents who believe that their children were injured by vaccines should be separated from society? Or put on an island somewhere so that they could die out? Or that they wish we would all die of diseases?

The false skeptics worship Science. They give it an almost mystical reverence, and they rarely question any dogma that comes from their hierarchy. They cling to it and are so devout in their true belief and conviction that anyone who questions their God is treated with utmost derision and scorn. Isaac Asimov said it best:

“Endoheretics are appropriately credentialed scientists. If the person is outside the scientific community or at least outside of his specialty, he is an exoheretic. If a person is an endoheretic, he will be considered as eccentric and incompetent, whereas if the person is an exoheretic, he will be regarded as a crackpot, charlatan, or fraud.”

Sound familiar?

Why do I point out her hypocrisy, you ask? Because hypocrisy is dishonesty in the purest sense of the word. She is being dishonest to herself and her readers, and those people she is trying to win over to her “side” know it.

I admit that sometimes I do suffer from hypocrisy; we all do. I usually try to catch myself and apologize when I do. But, the difference between me and the rest of the false skeptics (except for Orac…you know where you stand with him, I’ll give him that) is that I will let you know where you stand with me. I make no secret about my opinion of you, and you’ll always know where you stand with me. I won’t try to lull you into a false friendship, then secretly laugh behind your back about your beliefs or about how you feel when something good happens to you. If I don’t like you, you will know it because I will tell you. I will stand behind my beliefs and I will let everyone know when I change my mind. I don’t profess to know all the secrets. I don’t profess to have all the answers. I accept that I could be wrong, and when I find enough evidence that convinces me of that, I will proclaim that to everyone publicly.

Now, I ask you this; do you see the false skeptics do this? Do they profess to have all the answers (“The Science has spoken!”)? Do they accept that they could be wrong?