The Huffington Post Virus?

Note to readers: This report of a supposed viral pandemic is entirely fictional but not inconceivable, and is for entertainment purposes only (depending upon your sensibilities.)

A new viral pandemic may be on its way. To date, physical symptoms have been benign. While the method of transmission, origin and therapies are as yet unknown, symptoms are consistent with a new viral strain including mild persistent fever and in some cases delusions and inexplicable behavior directed – oddly enough – towards media outlets. Susceptibility appears to be universal; no resistant individuals have been identified. Some may view these symptoms to reflect perfectly natural participation in “vigorous” debates or clashing opinions. If this is your view, you need not read further. Mounting evidence suggests otherwise.

The first reports of symptoms described irrational railing against media or representatives thereof, including The Huffington Post after which the virus (not yet isolated) was named. Individuals otherwise rational and often creative have been observed reacting to media with statements such as:

Wretched hive of scum and quackery…

The fact that this was on the Huffington Post is all you need to know in order to conclude it’s garbage.

HuffPost is but one example of such (putative) viral-induced rants against media. Here, The New York Times is the focus:

This guy from The New York Times, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet, humanity is destroying the climate, that human beings in their natural existence are going to cause the extinction of life on Earth — Mr *****, why don’t you just go kill yourself and help the planet by dying?

Epidemiological studies indicate that these rants are comparable against “left-” and “right-” wing media outlets. Here the “right-wing” is the focus:

I’m inviting the drug-ridden scumbag, Rush Limbaugh, on The Ed Show to debate me on any topic! He won’t do it because he’s a drug addict and he’s a coward, a complete coward. Plus he probably couldn’t hear me if he was on The Ed Show.
…C’mon you fat pig. Let’s get it on. I’m getting ratings without you. Hell, I’m doing you a favor. C’mon, Rush! Let’s get it on! Get out of your compound down there. Get away from your drugs. Go see the doctor and get some hearing. Maybe you could pick up a 19th girlfriend. Maybe you could try marriage again. By the way, Rush, you got any kids? Oh, you’re out of the mainstream!

Fortunately, these outbursts are typically short-lived and patients seem to recover within 24-48 hours. A particularly extreme case was observed recently, in which the affected individual began speaking a non-existent language, seemingly speaking in tongues. That such behavior is not specifically directed towards the media could indicate that this individual was affected with a mutated version of this newly proposed virus. How else could one explain such behavior? I invite other interpretations.

To date, recommended treatments for this putative virus include taking a short walk outdoors, relaxed breathing for several minutes in a quiet area, and listening to Bach. With some vigilance, further spread of this befuddling behavior can be minimized.

Note to readers: This report of a supposed viral pandemic is entirely fictional but not inconceivable, and is for entertainment purposes only (depending upon your sensibilities.)


  1. #1 JohnV
    January 23, 2011

    Considering the vast amount of censorship on the huffington post of comments they disagree with (at times against the wishes of the blogger who wrote the post said comments were left), maybe there’s a virus going around causing people to give them more credit than they deserve? :p

    Also, considering the amount of anti-science, anti-health, pro-disease writing that is published on said website, why should they be given the courtesy of civility? They certainly haven’t earned it.

  2. #2 Jeff
    January 23, 2011

    As a regular HuffPost blogger, I have full editorial oversight of comments, so your comment is perplexing.

  3. #3 Orac
    January 23, 2011

    Well, since you used a quote that I coined about HuffPo (“wretched hive of scum and quackery”) without even the courtesy of a linkback, I’ll explain a bit, but it will take some links. That phrase does not apply to HuffPo in general but to its coverage of medicine, where HuffPo really is a wretched hive of scum and quackery.

    Indeed, I noted that anti-vaccine quackery is not only tolerated but encouraged on HuffPo, and I noted it way back when HuffPo first hit the blogosphere:

    Then there’s a lot more that’s gotten worse recently, including claiming that homeopathy can be used to treat the swine flu, the promotion of cancer quackery, and much, much more:

    As for censorship:

  4. #4 JohnV
    January 24, 2011

    I don’t know what to tell you.

    I had comments on Steve Young’s blog a while back that were deleted. Since I knew/thought there was nothing wrong with them, I sent him an email asking him what I did wrong. His response was that he knew the comments were there and he didn’t take them down. He too was perplexed because he was under the impression that he had full editorial oversight of comments.

    Sadly the university email account was transitioned to gmail 2 years ago and it didn’t carry over the emails, otherwise I’d forward you a copy of our exchange.

  5. #5 Clam
    January 24, 2011

    Nice one. But only in the U.S. would the note to readers be necessary.

  6. #6 SoulmanZ
    January 24, 2011

    Hmmm… You know I read this blog a bit, and generally find something to like, but this? Throwing an underhanded insult at a fellow blogger?

    I know this is meant to be in lighthearted fun, but calling someone out (even quoting them) and not naming them is what the worst in the media do. It is what antiscience folk do. The whole “some people are saying” bit. Passive-voice-aggression

    I’m not saying I agree with orac on everything, although I do on the huffington post, and personally boycott that HoSaq, but even if you don’t agree, I do reckon you should blog to his face

    On the off chance you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, read some scienceblogs!

  7. #7 Jeff
    January 24, 2011

    Thank you for reading, and please understand that there is no insult intended. Yes, this particular post is intended as “lighthearted fun.” A fellow blogger happened to provide an example that fits the point; I decided not to link to the source so as not to be “finger pointing.” In the future, I will endeavor to be more direct.

  8. #8 Jeff
    January 24, 2011

    Thank you for reading and for the links, and please understand that there is no insult intended. As I mentioned to another commenter, this particular post is intended as “lighthearted fun.” A fellow blogger happened to provide an example that fits the point; I decided not to link to the source so as not to be “finger pointing.” In the future, I will endeavor to be more direct.

  9. #9 Nescio
    January 24, 2011

    The disorder you noticed may be caused by this:

  10. #10 Truth Seeker
    February 3, 2011

    I am a very progressive liberal and even though I have posted over 2850 comments in the past to the Huff-P, without too much trouble (and had 108 fans) and have earned a “networker badge” (whatever that is!), today I was just banned from posting anymore, just because of some “slightly” critical comments I made in regards to this “new age”, pseudo-science blog (but I also agree that it seems Huff-P doesn’t like hard science and prefers “new-age” stuff, instead:

    I kept copies of many of my remarks and have reviewed them again and don’t find anything different from what I have posted in the past. I asked the moderators to investigate what was going on, but apparently, this just made them even madder and someone just banned me. I have had numerous problems in the past, posting ANYTHING even slightly critical in the religion section. Is Arianna especially protective of this section? Does she instruct her moderators to block any critical comments there?

    Pretty weird behavior on the part of the Huff-P, if you ask me (I thought they would be champions of free speech – especially after Egypt!). Hope others that face similar problems make their complaints on YouTube, like this guy:

  11. #11 Jeff
    February 4, 2011

    Your experience as a commentator is unfortunate. As a HuffPost blogger, the only reason I would remove a comment would be if the writer used profanity or personal attacks. Editing posted comments is at the sole discretion of HuffPost bloggers.

  12. #12 does breast actives work
    May 2, 2013

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

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