Respectful Insolence

Some of you may have heard of John Scudamore’s Whale.to site. I’ve referred to it in the past as a repository of some of the wildest and most bizarre “alternative” medicine claims out there. However, I will admit that I’ve only ever scratched the surface of the insanity that is Whale.to.

Kathleen Seidel has dug deeply into the madness.

It goes far beyond what even I had thought. She found parts of the website that I had never known to exist. For example, the complete text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is there. There’s also the complete text of Maniacal World Control Thru The Jesuit Order: Well-Hidden Soldiers Of Satan. At one time, the site hosted The Illuminati Formula Used to Create an Undetectable Total Mind Controlled Slave, although it’s no longer there. Maybe even Whale.to can be embarrassed, but I doubt it, given that it still hosts the Protocols. I mean, come on! What’s next? Mein Kampf? After all, Nazis were into “alternative” medicine big-time, especially naturopathy, because they viewed it as more “volkish.” It was even referred to as Neue Deutsche Heilkunde (the New German Science of Healing). Read Robert N. Proctor’s The Nazi War On Cancer and Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis for a lot more.


I’ll list a few of the nuttiest things found on Whale.to (although I most humbly admit that I have probably not found the truly nuttiest, as it’s a big site):

  1. Cloudbusters and black lines
  2. 6 TBs in a circle (Healing Black lines)
  3. Ghostly resident in Crieff shop
  4. Noxious earth energies and their influence on human beings
  5. Mind control hardware (Did you know that CPR equipment is part of the plot?)
  6. The vaccination hoax and Holocaust
  7. Genocide via vaccination
  8. Holy Hand Grenade (not of Antioch, I hasten to add).
  9. Crystal & water charging
  10. Cell phone/GSM/PCS (aka DEATH TOWERS), TETRA, HAARP, GWEN, & Power lines
  11. Asian tsunami was nuke
  12. Medical (Allopathic) Mind Control
  13. Mammography Hoax
  14. Atheism, Forbidden Archeology & The Darwinian Evolution Hoax

These are but a small sampling of the zaniness to be found in abundance on Whale.to. John Scudamore even appears to believe in David Icke’s reptilians! (If you really want to get an idea of just what a loon John Scudamore (the founder of Whale.to) is, check out this conversation thread on my old stomping grounds (which I rarely visit anymore) misc.health.alternative.) There’s even a great quote by Boyd Haley from 2006 that I intend to throw back into the mercury militia’s face any time they try to do a little revisionist history and claim that they never said it was “just” the mercury that causes autism:

I think that the biological case against thimerosal is so overwhelming anymore that only a very foolish or a very dishonest person with the credentials to understand this research would say that thimerosal wasn’t most likely the cause of autism.

Let’s see J.B. Handley deny that one!

What’s disturbing about Kathleen’s post, though, is how she documents the way that Whale.to was actually cited as evidence in the Autism Omnibus. I kid you not. It didn’t fly, but it is indicative of the low level of evidence that the plaintiffs will try.

Finally, whenever anyone tries to cite Whale.to as “evidence” for anything, remember a newly formulated law of Internet debates (similar to Godwin’s law). This law is Scopie’s law:

In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately..and gets you laughed out of the room.

Kathleen describes what happened next:

The adage was dubbed Scopie’s Law and heralded by the anonymous Dr* T, who linked from his blog to a newly created Wikipedia page about it. That page was eventually enhanced with a citation to an Evidence of Harm newsgroup post by the unabashed antivaccinationist Sheri Nakken, who made the uncorroborated claim that David Kirby relied heavily on Whale.to while researching his vaccine-injury plaintiffs’ potboiler, Evidence of Harm.

In short order, the Wikipedia page was deemed nonsensical vandalism and was therefore nominated a candidate for speedy deletion. The corpse of the page now moulders in Google’s cache.

This cannot stand. Scopie’s law deserves to be enshrined in Wikipedia every bit as much as Godwin’s Law! For that purpose, I urge all fellow bloggers and you, my readers, to use the term “Scopie’s law” at every opportunity. Eventually, it will come into such common usage that even the woo-friendly Wiki-saboteurs who try every chance they get to purge from Wikipedia anything that might be construed as disparaging to alternative medicine (in other words, anything based on scientific evidence) will no longer be able to stand against the adage!

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    June 14, 2008

    At one time, the site hosted The Illuminati Formula Used to Create an Undetectable Total Mind Controlled Slave, although it’s no longer there.

    I guess The Illuminati made them take it down.

  2. #2 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 14, 2008

    I proposed a similar law last month that needs a better name but I think is equally as valid.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp’s law of Creationist ignorance: During any communication with a creationist concerning science and evolution in particular, the probability of the creationist repeating the “It’s just a theory” canard approaches one.

    Any use of the “Just a Theory” canard immediately loses that person the argument.

    But I’m too damn lazy to try and get into wiki

  3. #3 DLC
    June 14, 2008

    The Asian Tsunami was a nuke ?
    Uh . . . the seismic event which caused the tsunami was
    more powerful than any nuke any nation or collection of nations could build, actually changing the Earth’s rotational speed by a few milliseconds. Anyone wishing to refute this claim who cites Whale.to as a source automatically loses due to Scopie’s law. (last bit added per Orac instruction)

  4. #4 Science Mom
    June 14, 2008

    The posts by Orac and Kathleen are most fortuitous as John (or someone claiming to be John) is on BCC’s Immunisation Debate Board in search of, what I imagine, fresh meat. His username is AntiVax there and is refusing to answer questions regarding his support of the conspiracy theories that are on his website. With the exception of a sniveling sycophant or 2, he is being appropriately derided.

  5. #5 blf
    June 14, 2008

    I had to read the “Asian tsunami was nuke” (after saying WTF!?!! about a zillion times after reading it in Orac’s list). Whilst not in the slightest illuminating or convincing, it did refer to “New Orleans after the fake Hurricane flooding”. That got a zillionplex (zillionzillion) WTF!!?!??!!!s. And I need a new desk, probably caused by my sudden headache.

  6. #6 NickG
    June 14, 2008

    Wow. Just wow. Its like when you see a big nasty wreck on the highway. You just can’t help but look. You know, there might be a head just laying there. Or something.

    Nazis, wicca, $cientology, satanism, and suicide on like one page. That’s impressive. Though its funny when even whack jobs like this think the CO$ is evil.

  7. #7 Interrobang
    June 14, 2008

    Mein Kampf isn’t nutty enough for them. I ought to know; I’ve read it, and I got it from the local public library…

  8. #8 NickG
    June 14, 2008

    Holy crap… just watch the first video on the page. This is just flat out paranoid psychosis. Seriously. She needs some geodon and a really big net to catch her in.

  9. #9 barbie123
    June 14, 2008

    oh dear. nick g., I took your advice and watched the video. Even more disturbing is the ?book cover to the right.

    I didn’t (couldn’t) watch the whole video: do they ever pan the audience for reaction shots? is she alone in the conference rooms? who, exactly, is coming to see this woman? and why?

  10. #10 Esther
    June 14, 2008

    I’d like to suggest a corollary to Scopie’s Law: Anyone who cites Medical Veritas or the works of any of its editorial board (see any familiar names?) as evidence in a debate – loses.

    Not quite as batshit crazy as whale.to, but pretty close…

  11. #11 NickG
    June 14, 2008

    “I didn’t (couldn’t) watch the whole video”

    Noooo! Its better at the end. She’s Henry Kissinger’s mind control human USB drive. No shit.

    And there was no audience or reaction that I saw.

  12. #12 grenouille
    June 14, 2008

    Wow, Henry Kissinger spent all that time programming her and she still managed to purchase that glittery horror of an outfit?

    Must have been some sort of glitch…

  13. #13 kristina
    June 14, 2008

    whales o’ tales………..big sigh that too many people (?) apparently think whale.to is a “valid, credible” source of information.

  14. #14 Bronze Dog
    June 14, 2008

    I never followed a whale.to link. I knew there was serial crazy anti-vaxxer urban legends and fallacies there, but I was never given any true sense of the sheer enormity of the stupid. Just the titles are painful.

    You can count on me to reference Scopie’s Law.

  15. #15 Liz Ditz
    June 14, 2008

    I hear and obey O Orac.

    This seems to be an appropriate place to mention that John Scudamore is just one of the 166 vaccination liars in Peter Bowditch’s list.

  16. #16 Rich Scopie
    June 14, 2008

    I took the liberty of running a spider over Whale.To a couple of months ago, and saving the results. The index can be found at:
    http://www.hyperactive-stage.co.uk/whaleto/whaleindex.xls
    (2.8 Meg)
    while the actual HTML is at:
    http://www.hyperactive-stage.co.uk/whaleto/Whaleto.zip
    (About 100 Meg – yes, really!)

    I’m fairly sure I missed some…

    Cheers,

    Rich.

  17. #17 Dangerous Bacon
    June 14, 2008

    It’s not just whale.to. The connection between fervent alt med advocacy and appeals to prejudice and conspiracy theorizing crop up repeatedly in altie forums and publications.

    Another example is the “Conspiracy Debate” forum on CureZone:

    http://www.curezone.com/forums/f.asp?f=49

    It’s all part of the dread fear that They Don’t Want Us To Know about marvelous cures, and that They have sinister plans to take away our Health Freedoms.

    Very often, They turn out to be Jews.

  18. #18 D. C. Sessions
    June 14, 2008

    You missed one of my favorites: Scudamore warns us of microwaved food.

  19. #19 MartinM
    June 14, 2008

    Eventually, it will come into such common usage that even the woo-friendly Wiki-saboteurs who try every chance they get to purge from Wikipedia anything that might be construed as disparaging to alternative medicine (in other words, anything based on scientific evidence) will no longer be able to stand against the adage!

    Good luck with that. Poe’s law has been around for a few years, is widely used in several large, notable blogs and forums, and it still doesn’t merit a Wikipedia entry, apparently.

  20. #20 blf
    June 14, 2008

    Poe’s law … still doesn’t merit a Wikipedia entry

    There may have been an entry at one time, I didn’t dig that deeply. It used to be mentioned in the List of eponymous laws, but was removed last month. It is still in Parody religion.

    It occurs to me Scopie’s Law is a bit different than Godwin’s, Poe’s, et al., in that it singles out a specific “source” rather than a general class of argument or sources. Whilst whale o’tales is notorious, it is not (as Orac’s Weekly Wacky Woo series shows) the only “source” which should be treated as an automatic loose and exit to the sounds of laughter. Furthermore, in the highly unlikely event something even remotely “true” ever appears on the whale o’tales site, there would be a case for referring to it as an example of an extremely endangered species.

  21. #21 HCN
    June 14, 2008

    Giggle… I love this!

    When I first ventured into the Usenet a very long time ago I actually clicked on a few of the Whale.to sites. I remember reading one missive on the American Indians and disease, and being struck by the incredible racism. It turned out it was written by a doctor sometime in the latter half of the 19th century.

    Apparently Scudamore is not into modern medicine. Modern is anything from 1900 on…

  22. #22 Matt
    June 14, 2008

    Also worthy of note: in David Kirby’s recent visit to the UK, Mr. Scudmore was one of the very (very) few people to watch Kirby talk at the House of Lords.

    It was announced ahead of time that he was going. But, I don’t recall any effort on the part of Mr Kirby to distance himself from the king of Whale.

  23. #23 Brian X
    June 14, 2008

    D.C. Sessions:

    Wow. All that scientific language and yet you hear things like “life-force” and “radiolytic products”. How… completely unoriginal.

    Orac:

    It isn’t really about being woo-friendly, although Wikipedia can be annoyingly postmodern at times. It’s more that it’s a neologism, and Wikipedia tries to only catalog things that actually might be looked up (thus the notability guideline). Rationalwiki.com would probably accept it, though you’d have to double-check with PalMD, as I don’t associate much with the administrative details on the site.

  24. #24 Blaidd Drwg
    June 14, 2008

    @ DC Sessions: I loved your link about microwaving food. My favorite line from the article, though, has GOT to be this:

    “Also, homeopathy in the vicinity of a microwave looses its healing potential…”

    It’s sort of like using an eraser on invisible ink – - how do you know when you’re done?

  25. #25 jre
    June 15, 2008

    The Illuminati appear to be up.
    But that’s not important now. What I want to know is why Tonga?

  26. #26 Rev.Enki
    June 15, 2008

    My partner has run across the whale.to webmaster recently on the babycenter.com discussion boards. He’s over there spreading his bullshit to an audience almost tailor-made for vulnerability to it. My partner is uncertain whether to alert the site moderators, or to simply let him continue to lead the anti-vaccination crowd further into the wilderness. I’m not sure which tactic to encourage. Any thoughts?

  27. #27 Justin Moretti
    June 15, 2008

    Alert the site moderators. You cannot save the woo-beasts who are already there, and the sensible need no saving, but you might be able to turn back some of the Uncertain Ones from disaster.

  28. #28 Catherina
    June 15, 2008

    Actually, poor ole John gets laughed off that site by the *anti*-vaccers already. The people who fall for this crap (there may be two or three) are beyond saving already and the rest is giving him unambiguous feedback about his collection :)

  29. #29 AntiVax
    June 15, 2008

    Wow, what a great collection of pharma trolls. All my old favourites like Sessions, HCN, Rich and Catherina. The HeathFraud crowd in other words. [Redacted-Nice try Mr. Scudamore, saith Orac.]

    This Scopie’s law, sounds like another logical fallacy, but then, you lot couldn’t argue your way out of a paper bag as far as vaccination goes, so only glad to help you out there!

    “My partner is uncertain whether to alert the site moderators, or to simply let him continue to lead the anti-vaccination crowd further into the wilderness. I’m not sure which tactic to encourage. Any thoughts?”

    Try and argue your case, although getting the moderators to block my posts is probably your best option seeing as you have no argument. The Allopaths on Wikipedia had to take that option in the end.

    Cheers!

    AntiVax

  30. #30 grenouille
    June 15, 2008

    My partner has run across the whale.to webmaster recently on the babycenter.com discussion boards

    Was that the asd support board over there? I swear that board converts more people to the darkside than any other on the web. Every rational, well-spoken, pro-vaccine parent is eventually run off the board by the “leader,” a strident biomed mother. They had to freeze a thread once because a mother dared to say that autism was NOT worse than cancer and she got piles of venomous posts in response.

    They even have a little tagline on the board now that it’s for support, not debate–meaning tow the party line or else. Everything that can be done to squash science is done and it’s shameful. Especially since many mothers come there looking for reassurance about their infant’s behavior. They are all advised to stop vaccines and try GFCF. One outraged mother even posted that she stopped talking to her friend of 25 years because her friend ignored her advice and vaccinated her children. “How could I stay friends with such an ignorant careless mother?” she asked the others on the board. Mindblowing…

    I hope you report it to the moderator and I hope that some of you skeptics mosey on over there to check it out. It’s an altie factory.

  31. #31 catherina
    June 15, 2008

    Grenoille,

    are you sure you are talking Babycenter and not Mothering.com?

  32. #32 grenouille
    June 15, 2008

    It’s babycenter–it seems harmless at first, but it definitely pushes anti-vax, pro-biomed. The leader pushes Dr. Bock relentlessly. Dissenters who want to stay around just don’t comment on any causation or biomedical threads. I was actually called satan by one of the mothers on there because I linked to Dr. Laidler’s piece on his disillusionment with biomed.

    I think people there end up changing their minds on these issues because of simple, high-schoolish peer pressure. If you are all about biomed, you have insta friends.

    I still lurk once in a long while on babycenter because I am fascinated with how stories change over the months. Mothering is just too, too scary.

  33. #33 Mary Parsons
    June 15, 2008

    Summary of the theoretical underpinnings that make up the GFCF diet and how it rather seems to be falling apart in the light of recent experimental work: Autism and the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet.

    It’s not Whale.to but I had a disagreement with somebody recently (mucoid plaque in the GI tract; I had said that it doesn’t exist and extraordinary things come out of people who take particular herbal mixes with psyllium husk. He insisted that it is a real phenomenon). The next time I saw him he pushed a print-out at me with the words, “Told you you were wrong”. The print-out was from CureZone.

    For those of us who do not blog, is it nonetheless useful to refer to Scopie’s Law in comments?

    “My Learned Friend is correct in stating that Scopie’s Law does not apply in this instance, yet…”

  34. #34 Ginger Li
    June 15, 2008

    John Scudamore used to post to the Evidence of Harm Yahoo group, but stopped shortly after Bob Wright (board member of General Electric and former president of NBC) joined that group.

    I’d like to ask Mr. Scudamore if he believes Bob Wright is an Illuminatus and if someone said he had seen Bob Wright shape-shift into a large lizard-like being, if Mr. Scudamore would believe it.

    Also, are there any photographs of Mr. Scudamore? Is it possible that he is a large lizard-like alien being with burn marks on his tail from sitting on satanic black-energy-field-lines.

  35. #35 Rev.Enki
    June 15, 2008

    RE: Scudamore, etc. It’s the “Immunizations” topic under the “Great Debates” heading. Mr. Scudamore is running rampant at the moment.

    http://boards.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?webtag=bcus3353

    Anyway, she was trying to tell me the whole babycenter operation is itself a bit “antivax,” but I was always a bit skeptical. I wrote something once there myself, being the father of our baby after all, and I was promptly swarmed by the antivaccine hydra. They were (it was?) exceedingly indignant that a male had the audacity to be writing on a bulletin board about babies. I’ve since discovered only mothers have the magical power to intuit that vaccines are tools of the Illuminati. Or the Jews. Or the Illuminated Jewsish Jesuits. Or Merck.

    I agree the guy appears to be actually, for real, insane. But so was Charlie Manson. That excuse can only take a person so far. I’m shocked anyone can take the nutjob seriously at all, but apparently some actually manage it. You’d think the overt antisemitism (not to mention the gibbering insanity) would be more of a turnoff than it actually appears to be. I just don’t know anymore if it’s possible to have too little faith in humanity.

  36. #36 HCN
    June 16, 2008

    AntiVax said “Wow, what a great collection of pharma trolls. All my old favourites like Sessions, HCN, Rich and Catherina.”

    Hi John! Have you burned your bum on any satanic black lines lately? How is the business of selling holy hand grenades…
    “The Holiest of the Handgrenades.
    12 oz.(500 grams) of high quality orgonite, made with a charged crystal point, & rose quartz.
    An ugly duckling in disguise that WILL do the job:)
    Price: £3.50 ”

    It is lovely to see you here. You should be able to provide much amusement.

  37. #37 wewillfixit
    June 16, 2008

    Hmmm,

    Does anyone else think it is odd that Orac is an anagram of Orca which is the latin name for the killer *whale*???

    I smell a conspiracy…

  38. #38 Sigivald
    June 16, 2008

    AntiVax can’t tell a logical fallacy from a heuristic.

  39. #39 barbie123
    June 19, 2008

    Nick G.,

    I finished watching the video (yowzers) and agree with your apt description of the ?victim? as USB drive.

    How can anyone look at any part of the “whale” site and take, as credible, any other part? mystifying…….or maybe I am just having my mind controlled…..cool; now I will get to perm my hair and write a gnarly book…

  40. #40 barbie123
    June 19, 2008

    Just went over to babycenter.com to see what the link mentioned above was all about…..goodness, they have moms spouting off utter nonsense and the worst kind of urban legends about the (I am not making this up) “murcury” in them there vaccines.

    Using fear and intimidation (especially to an audience of new mothers, who are terrified at baseline) to make your point…that is surely suggestive of legitimate concern based on hard evidence. . . NOT.

  41. #41 jdc
    June 19, 2008

    Heh. Re the Wikipedia page for Scopie’s Law – apparently it is a neologism. All we need is time then… :)

    I still find it hard to believe that the BBC and Daily Mail will quote people from JABS who seem to get a lot of their info from Whale.to, but someone quoting the actual Whale.to site in court? Absolutely bloody ridiculous.

    PS – it may not be the ‘nuttiest’ part of the Whale.to site, but the “AIDS Conspiracy” page is particularly disturbing and is an excellent example of what I like to refer to as ‘dangerously wrong’.

  42. #42 Catherina
    June 19, 2008

    Barbie,

    it is not generally helpful to barge in and shout “educate yourself” at the regulars though, no matter how frustrated about the murcury you may be. I would like to think that is anti-vax behaviour only (“How can you put all those toxins into your child EDUCATE YOURSELF!!!!”).

  43. #43 barbie123
    June 19, 2008

    Catherina, I haven’t a clue what you are talking about…….?

    I re-read my post here and don’t think I am “shouting” at any regulars on this site…..

  44. #44 Catherina
    June 19, 2008

    Barbie – is this not you?

    http://boards.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=41&nav=messages&webtag=bcus3353&tid=1905

    Uh, Jeanne, any science or data behind any of these claims, or just fear-mongering and urban legends?

    Have you ever seen a child with smallpox? Or rubella? Or polio?

    Your smug righteousness over misinformation you are spewing to new moms who are honestly seeking guidance is galling.

    Educate yourself: NO LINK BETWEEN VACCINES AND AUTISM.

    Jeannine = regular
    all caps = shouting
    your examples = either eradicated or not shocking to see

    If this was not you, I apologize. If this was you, read my latest post to you on BC. Orac was recently pondering how to get through to “them”. Certainly not by waving “Parenting Magazine” and badly chosen VPDs at “them”.

  45. #45 barbie123
    June 19, 2008

    That is not me.

    Sorry to ruin your (obvious) fun.

  46. #46 Catherina
    June 19, 2008

    fun?! That other Barbie turns into quite an embarrassment – sigh. Thanks for clarifying :)

  47. #47 Danio
    June 19, 2008

    The Barbie identity crisis prompted me to visit the Babycenter site myself–EEEEEEK! The content of the comments was not surprising, but truly scary and sad given the extreme vulnerability that goes with the new parent territory.

    It’s a little creepy that there is a “Barbie 456″ out there, though, isn’t it? Can “Barbie789″ be far behind?

    Meanwhile, increasingly antivax CNN strikes again with another example of health policy decided by popular vote.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/06/19/ep.vaccines/index.html

  48. #48 Catherina
    June 19, 2008

    Someone suggested that BC’s Barbie is an anti-vax plant to make us look silly.

    Thanks for the CNN link. The sad thing is that not vaccinating is a fad for people who are generally well off and would have access to the right resources. People just don’t have ‘real’ worries anymore, so they need to obscess about vaccines.

  49. #49 Danio
    June 19, 2008

    People just don’t have ‘real’ worries anymore, so they need to obscess about vaccines.

    Indeed. The CNN story is disturbing for a number of reasons. The overall lack of balance sucks, but unfortunately seems to be the industry standard these days. The crazy comments that ensue from such pieces are always depressing, as well, e.g.

    Doctor’s wife:Doctors are the ones not vaccinating their own kids. I am happy to say that none of my kids have ever been vacinated or have had the eye drops at birth and I can honestly say that my kids are the healthiest of their friends… Whenever we go to get their vaccinate exemption, many of the parents in line are doctors as well.

    Just as worrying, though, are the number of pediatricians quoted in the article who seem to be perfectly comfortable employing the Sears’ vaccine schedule, and who allow parents to customize their children’s vaccine schedules based on what they perceive to be the ‘worst’ diseases. Any John Q. Parent reading this would likely think “well, that sounds prudent” but it’s actually pretty frightening in its imprudence.

    The MDs quoted in the piece seem to believe that they’re doing the right thing by letting their patients (parents) have some say in their medical treatment, but as noble a goal as this might be, it fails completely in the absence of comprehensive education on the subject prior to such decisions being made.

    Given the wealth of competing resources such as Whale.to and Babycenter, the pediatricians certainly have their work cut out for them. Here’s hoping that most of them aren’t taking the path of least resistance like those in the CNN article appear to be doing.

  50. #50 Radioactive afikomen
    June 23, 2008

    Well, it’s not quite Wikipedia, but RationalWiki does have an article on Scopie’s Law. May it tide you over until Wikipedia has one : )