Respectful Insolence

Readers may be wondering why I haven’t written about Jenny McCarthy’s latest brain dead outburst against Amanda Peet. (Actually, brain dead is too kind a description of it, given that Jenny’s retort in essence boils down to her having an “angry mob” on her side making Amanda “completely wrong.”) It’s because I decided to try to resist for once in my life. And I was doing really good at it, too, even though several readers sent me links to various stories about Jenny McCarthy’s outburst. Still, I resisted. Even after antivaccinationist financier J. B. Handley wrote a post demanding of Amanda Peet, How Much Are They Paying You?, I held back and didn’t respond to Handley’s obvious use of the Pharma Shill Gambit, complete with a photo of a prostitute sticking money into her stocking. Oddly enough, I didn’t notice a post right below it (more on that later).

Then, damn it, I also noticed that P.Z. had to go and set loose his Pharynguloid hordes on the accompanying poll that went with this post. Regular readers know that I’ve never been that thrilled with P.Z. Myers’ penchant for sending his Pharynguloid hordes over to infest dubious Internet polls. It always struck me as a bit childish and bullying. On the other hand, I must reluctantly admit that at times it’s pretty hilarious. Lately, I’ve been coming around somewhat, and I think that perhaps P.Z.’s mistake is not so much that he does unleash the hounds on stupid Internet polls but that he does it too often. In other words, it’s become boring and predictable. I also realize that, with about 1/10 (or less) of the traffic that P.Z. garners, if I were to send my Respectfully Insolent mini-horde to crash a poll, the likely result would be embarrassment and ineffectiveness. And, I must admit, his unleashing of his poll crashers on a poll asking who is right about vaccines, Amanda Peet or Jenny McCarthy was pretty funny.

Even so, early this morning after having seen P.Z.’s post, still I resisted blogging about it. After all, what could I do? The last time I checked, the vote was running around 94% to 6% against Jenny McCarthy.

Then, as I was taking a break to eat lunch, I noticed that something really and truly hilarious had happened. (Remember the post I hadn’t noticed before?) The antivaccinationists at the Age of Autism tried to rally their troops to challenge the hegemony of the Pharynguloid hordes by exhorting them to go and vote in the poll, too! The flea rose up to challenge the elephant! Truly, comic gold.

You know, for perhaps the first time ever, I actually feel a bit sorry for merry band of antivaccinationists over at AoA. They have no clue whatsoever what they’ve just provoked, as PZ has sent his ravening hordes directly to AoA.

The horror, the horror. For the antivaccinationists, that is.

Comments

  1. #1 N.B.
    October 1, 2008

    Personally, I think that PZ’s greatest contribution to the world on this particular subject is making it very clear that internet polls are a completely invalid way of determining anything.

    It should’ve been clear before (what with selection bias and all that), but sometimes people need a real-world example before they understand a theoretical principle.

  2. #2 Bob O'H
    October 1, 2008

    And the effect of AoA counter-crashing the poll? Amanda Peet has moved from a high of 97% to … 94%.

  3. #3 S. Rivlin
    October 1, 2008

    Orac,

    Have you seen Jenny’s interview this morning on CNN? http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2008/10/01/intv.mccarthy.cnn

    In it she has also claimed that her son’s autism is cured and that mothers should take into their own hands the medical care of their children rather than rely on medical professionals who are in medicine for the money only.

    One can feel and see her anger and strong desdain toward the medical profession.

  4. #4 Jody
    October 1, 2008

    I also realize that, with about 1/10 (or less) of the traffic that P.Z. garners, if I were to send my Respectfully Insolent mini-horde to crash a poll…

    Orac, that’s a terrible name for your legion. What about “Respectfully Insolent’s Insignificant Insurrection?”

    Maybe “Respectfully Insolent’s Illusionary Invaders?”

    You can’t let PZ have all the fun.

  5. #5 HCN
    October 1, 2008

    The problem with sending the PZ bunch over the AoA is that they moderate with an iron clown glove. I suspect very few of their comments will be approved. Though it should make lots more work for then.

  6. #6 Halcyon
    October 1, 2008

    For the Horde!

    (Sorry, I’ve been having a bit of withdrawal lately. Carry on)

  7. #7 Danio
    October 1, 2008

    iron clown glove.

    Thanks, HCN, that made my day.

    I’ll renew my request for reading materials with good rebuttals to the antivax talking points that are accessible to people with very basic scientific skills.

    I must do my part for the RI Horde, and the co-worker I mentioned in the linked-to comment seems to be receptive to more info. She asked to borrow my Offit book when I was done with it, but I’m worried that it might be too technical for her to start with. If I could prime her with some more basic work, she could probably get a lot out of it.

  8. #8 AJ Milne
    October 1, 2008

    What about “Respectfully Insolent’s Insignificant Insurrection?”

    Are YOU having trouble with an insignificant insurrection? (Soft-focus shot: blogger walking on beach, alone, with laptop)… An insignificant insurrection is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a common condition that afflicts millions of bloggers worldwide. (Blogger kneels, looks into waves…) And while it may be a symptom of an underlying condition, in many instances, it’s a benign and temporary condition. While inconvenient, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

    And for many bloggers worldwide, now, there’s a clinically proven answer. So ask your doctor about Pfizer’s Bliogra (Cut to product shot)… Now, there’s no need to call off the revolution.

    Bliogra. (Narrator goes to fast ‘mouse-type’ voice, over fading shot of happy blogger reviewing hit stats…) Side-effects may include snarky trolls, large quantities of hate mail, and angry denunciations from Bill Donohue. Use as directed.

  9. #9 Bourgeois_Rage
    October 1, 2008

    I saw McCarthy on CNN this morning, she came across as a lunatic, so hopefully people saw through her ranting. I was a bit upset that the only counter point offered was the Interviewer. They really shouldn’t be giving her a platform to spread her nonsense. But what else is new?

  10. #10 firemancarl
    October 1, 2008

    Hey Orac,

    I am a quasi regular at Pharyngula. I gotta admit, it’s pretty fun crashing those polls. There in effect, set up to allow nutjubs and wackaloons the ability to think that by argument ad populum , they are correct- even when using “science”. Egads!

    Anyway, i stumbled upon this guy who posted at Pharyngula named John Best has a serious hate on for you. Do you find this happens all the time when you confront wooers with real data and science? Oy Vey!

  11. #11 MBA
    October 1, 2008

    Compare the CNN interview with the
    Diane Sawyer interview
    on Good Morning America from the 29th.

    After watching Sawyer, I thought she should probably just retire now in embarrassment for conducting such a poor interview.

    CNN, while not perfect, did a much better job of actually asking questions and not merely giving McCarthy a platform to propagandize. And I agree with Bourgeois Rage, that, when actually asked serious questions instead of soft balls, she does begin shrieking like a lunatic. She was about ready to cuss out the interviewer, apparently for daring to even pose such questions.

    Also, in searching for that link, I found this apparent controversy from last year with Barbara Walters, who apparently took issue with McCarthy’s conclusions about autism. Apparently, Walters has an autistic sister, and therefore has enough experience with the disease to know that McCarthy is FOS.

  12. #12 D. C. Sessions
    October 1, 2008

    Anyway, i stumbled upon this guy who posted at Pharyngula named John Best has a serious hate on for you. Do you find this happens all the time when you confront wooers with real data and science? Oy Vey!

    One of the special treats of dealing with the dingleberries on the eight-sigma tail of the bell curve is that they’re so … original. Despite comparable social skills and intellects, John Best and John Scudamore are very distinct individuals.

    If you haven’t encountered John Scudamore yet, you’re in for a real … experience. Then you have the urine-drinking tools@, the “iron is the root of all evil” ironjustice@, the poster currently calling herself “Annie” to keep the people who have her house under observation from bugging her computer again, …

  13. #13 Orac
    October 1, 2008

    Oooh, Iron Justice is still around. Now that brings back memories from misc.health.alternative back on Usenet!

    All we need now is Ilena Rosenthal if we want to complete the crank-fest.

  14. #14 PhilB
    October 1, 2008

    Current results, AoA brought things all the way back to
    Amanda Peet 97%
    J. McCarthy 3%
    9224 Votes

  15. #15 PhilB
    October 1, 2008

    What I get for staring at SQL all day.

    Shoulda read
    Peet 93%
    McCarthy 7%

  16. #16 Uncle Dave
    October 1, 2008

    What a compelling orator on the subject of vaccines.
    They should perform an EEG during her interviews.

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2008/10/01/intv.mccarthy.cnn

  17. #17 D. C. Sessions
    October 1, 2008

    All we need now is Ilena Rosenthal if we want to complete the crank-fest.

    Oh, she’s still around. I have her killfiled but still see the second-hand scat. If you mention her name two more times she’ll show up here, too. You’re already on her enemies list (not much of a distinction, that) just for having “breast” and “surgeon” in your CV, so it won’t take much.

    Then there’s the fortunately-inimitable Jan Drew.

    Still, if you want one for your Friday Dose of Woo my vote is for “Cell Salts” Carole as the most terminally incapable of understanding even trivial logic. Somehow she managed to get a website for her stuff, too: cellsalts.net

    An interesting observation on several of these, BTW: they’re “wave” posters. The go manic, then vanish, then reappear. Their cycles are fairly predictable if you pay attention.

  18. #18 TheProbe
    October 1, 2008

    Orac said: “Oooh, Iron Justice is still around. Now that brings back memories from misc.health.alternative back on Usenet!

    All we need now is Ilena Rosenthal if we want to complete the crank-fest.”

    Actually, Ilena has been pretty quiet and sane in comparison to the cast of characters listed by DCS. Annie/Debbie has lost all connection with reality, and sees conspiracies everywhere. Her favorite is the QuackWatch/Department of Defense one where her cell phone is tapped, her computer hacked, and her personal information posted all over Usenet.

  19. #19 TheProbe
    October 1, 2008

    Orac said: “Oooh, Iron Justice is still around. Now that brings back memories from misc.health.alternative back on Usenet!

    All we need now is Ilena Rosenthal if we want to complete the crank-fest.”

    Actually, Ilena has been pretty quiet and sane in comparison to the cast of characters listed by DCS. Annie/Debbie has lost all connection with reality, and sees conspiracies everywhere. Her favorite is the QuackWatch/Department of Defense one where her cell phone is tapped, her computer hacked, and her personal information posted all over Usenet.

    BTW, she sounds more and more Bolenesque every day.

  20. #20 Bronze Dog
    October 1, 2008

    I had a bit of mild doubts about poll crashing a while back, but I’ve gotten over it. The purpose:

    1) Showing that such unscientific polls are inherently pointless.
    2) Showing that everyone’s open to scrutiny and criticism. If you don’t want us to read it and express our opinions, try something more private than the Internet, and don’t ask for our opinion with a poll.

  21. #21 HCN
    October 1, 2008

    D. C. Sessions said ” All we need now is Ilena Rosenthal …

    Then there’s the fortunately-inimitable Jan Drew.

    Still, if you want one for your Friday Dose of Woo my vote is for “Cell Salts” Carole …”

    Many of the reasons I am not too terribly sad that my ISP is making accessing the Usenet difficult, and is going to apparently drop it completely. I had the first two loons killfiled for just their volume of idiocy. Carole was not too prolific, but there were others. Though I never killfiled Scudamore because he just came with just lunatic brilliance every so often, like the method to protect oneself from black lines (which I milked for all it was worth, and got myself a tribute site on whale.to).

    I wonder if anyone is going to tell Ilena that a good portion of Offit’s book is on the silicon breast implant debacle.

  22. #22 Orac
    October 2, 2008

    Then there’s the fortunately-inimitable Jan Drew.

    OMG. I forgot about her. She makes John Best look almost sane by comparison.

    Well, not quite. They’re about the same level.

  23. #23 HCN
    October 2, 2008

    I have one nice thing to say about Jan Drew: She claimed I was Tsu Dho Nimh.

    Wow! I considered that a great compliment. Oh, and notice I am not the only one who thinks TDN is awesome:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/poll_you_must_choose_between_j.php#comment-1134869 …”On the other hand, it’s nice to have the cool people from RI like Tsu Dho Nimh here at “home.””

  24. #24 Skepacabra
    October 2, 2008

    I’ve coined a new term to describe this specific tactic by the antivaccinationists of accusing their critics of being shills for Big Pharm. I call it: Jenny McCarthyism.

  25. #25 D. C. Sessions
    October 2, 2008

    Orac:

    OMG. I forgot about her [Jan Drew]. She makes John Best look almost sane by comparison.

    Well, not quite. They’re about the same level.

    As I wrote elsewhere: one of the interesting things about these dingleberries on the eight-sigma tail of the bell curve is that they’re so individual — they’re all batshit crazy, but they’re each hir OWN batshit crazy. Very little overlap.

  26. #26 Karl Withakay
    October 2, 2008

    I was going to post a reply, but the first poster pretty much nailed it right on the head.

    Crashing such polls eliminates any chance someone can claim them as support for their position.

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