Respectful Insolence

I’ve been complaining about the antivaccine lunacy at The Huffington Post for a very long time–since a mere two or three weeks after The Huffington Post first came into existence, when it had already become apparent that, in terms of health coverage, HuffPo was nothing more than Arianna’s Happy Home for Loony Antivaccinationists. Lately, I’ve become even more disturbed by the appearance of outright quackery, such as recommending colon cleanses and “detox” to fight infectious diseases and the boosting of homeopathy and the quackery that is the Beck Protocol as treatments for swine flu and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Some of us have wondered whether this is because the new “Wellness Editor” of HuffPo is a homeopath and “alternative” practitioner.

So what to do?

Blog bud PalMD has a suggestion: Vendetta! (although I’m not sure that what he describes is exactly a vendetta). In fact, compared to the title of his post, what he actually describes seems rather calm:

I’d like you to consider writing to HuffPo with specific examples of their malfeasance, and asking them to consider altering their editorial policy on health issues, for the sake of morality, health, and humanity. In your own words.

Although I understand the sentiment, sadly, I don’t think that it will do much good. The antivaccine nonsense, for example, has been very deeply ingrained in HuffPo blogging culture from the very beginning. I highly doubt, for instance, that Arianna would ever kick Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. off of HuffPo or allow any of her editors to do so. He’s just too high profile a liberal voice. Similarly, given how the influx of outright quackery has coincided with the tenure of the new “wellness editor,” I highly doubt that, short of removing her, any level of complaints will dislodge the quacks. I’d love to be wrong, but I fear I’m not, which is why I don’t think it’s a bad idea at least to try to deluge the editors with complaints about the recent spike in quackery blogging on HuffPo, the most irresponsible and utterly opportunistic of which are the claims by various charlatans that homeopathy or “detox” regimens can protect you from the swine flu.

But what else can we do, other than continue to ruthlessly mock the quackery in HuffPo whenever it rises to a certain level? Or is that what HuffPo wants, given that attention, good or bad, drives traffic its way?

Comments

  1. #1 Mu
    May 1, 2009

    So, what you’re telling us is in essence we need a “Orac for HuffPo wellness editor” campaign?

  2. #2 Robster, FCD
    May 1, 2009

    Vendetta? So we convince anonymous to raid HuffPo, wearing their Guy Fawkes mask? No. Anonymous is nobody’s private army, unless the target is abusing kittens.

    I don’t think there is anything we can do, other than try to get someone one HuffPo with the purpose of providing real information. It would be nice if they had a science and medicine editor, but I suspect that they would only promote from within, and give Chopra the job.

    A couple items to pass on. First, delicious pareidolia, with luchedores thrown in. Second, I put up some of my lecture notes for my biology classes on swine flu at JREF. Fellow educators looking for a way to turn this into a teachable event may enjoy it.

  3. #3 Todd
    May 1, 2009

    What disturbs me most about the woo at HuffPo is that we just escaped 8 years of a government actively hostile against science and reason. The fact that HuffPo is such a prominent site for left of center voices undermines the opportunity we have to correct the damage done to science under the Bush administration. Obama has said some very good things about restoring science in the U.S., but if his base is as hostile to reason as those on the right, I think it’s inevitable that the U.S. continue to slide into scientific irrelevance.

  4. #4 Anthro
    May 1, 2009

    I HAVE written them, serveral times, to no avail; although, I’m not sure how to best contact them and any advice is welcome. I have also posted similar to the above and think it might be worth at least having this discussion with Huff Post.

    It seems the bigger question is why is the country awash in pseudoscience? It certainly isn’t just Huff Post! It goes back to the health food industry bombarding the FDA and getting supplements declared “food” rather than drugs. Throw in the New Age “movement” and the disaffected churchgoers who have traded religion for “spirituality”, to say nothing of the lack of effective science education, and you have massive scientific illiteracy. The fairly mainstream people who listen to Chopra, Weill, Oz, et. al., mean well and are often very well educated except in science and this is a huge problem.

  5. #5 TimK
    May 1, 2009

    I worry that the science bloggers’ ridicule might ultimately help HuffPo more than hurt them, what with all the linking and direction of new traffic to their pages, if HuffPo’s loyal readers dismiss these criticisms as no better than the ideological attacks they deal with from the Right on every other issue. Particularly with the Democrats’ strengthening grip on power, I’m terrified by the prospect of medicine denial becoming as entrenched in the far-left as evolution denial is on the far-right. We can’t risk letting the science-based medicine message be conflated with conservative politics.

    I wonder about the best way to frame CAM criticism so that it would appeal to ideologically committed liberals. How about using anti-corporate rhetoric against Big Supplement or stressing the “consumer protection against fraud” angle?

  6. #6 ababa
    May 1, 2009

    Speaking of news media, this one is just too good to not pass on. We had a recent News Story about chicken pox parties on the local Fox affiliate (which is prone to anti-vax nonsense in the name of “balance”). They had the local anti-vax ringleader in the interview (thankfully they edited that dipshit down to the minimum) and a pediatrician.

    The peditrician made the mistake of mentioning something about leukemia being dianosed shortly following a case of chicken pox. The usual anti-vaxers went nuts on the mommy forums. One of them actually said this in response to chicken pox leading to leukemia:

    If you break your leg falling off a horse and go to the emergency room and find out you are pregnant, you don’t say the horse got you pregnant.

    Several of them agreed and said how true that was, cheering her on. Several who insist vaccines cause autism.

    That’s right folks, an anti-vaxer actually used “correlation does not equal causation” to prop up her argument.

    The irony is completely lost on them.

  7. #7 scotth
    May 1, 2009

    Keith Olbermann has Huff Post political people on frequently. He seems to be a pretty pro-science guy. He’s certainly had the correct reactions to Obama’s pro-science policy statements.

    I’ve been trying to find contact info for Olbermann to point out how anti-science the Huff Post is. I want to tell him that their position on alt-med taints their credibility across the board in my opinion. Please discontinue bringing any of their staff on air and make it clear to them that it is their pro-disease policy that drives his decision.

    Contact info for Keith is hard to come by.

    Anyway, that’s my idea so far. Losing their daily infomercial on Olbermann would have to get their attention.

  8. #8 Orac
    May 1, 2009

    Re: Olbermann

    Sorry, but I’m not nearly as impressed with Olbermann on science as you are. He proved himself putty in the hands of the antivaccine movement a mere two months ago:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/keith_olbermann_played_for_a_fool.php

    He was so spectacularly easily manipulated by David Kirby that it was scary.

    No, I wouldn’t look to Keith Olbermann for any help at all.

  9. #9 scotth
    May 1, 2009

    Bogus, I had not seen that on Olbermann.

    I’ll keep thinking.

  10. #10 passionlessDrone
    May 1, 2009

    Hi Orac –

    Well, you might not be able to change what happens at Huff Pro, but you might consider taking a different tact in discussing autism in your house. You attract a relatively large base of readers, many with a good amount of scientific knowledge.

    Tragically, on a site dedicated to science your site is the closest thing to someplace where the still very mysterious condition of autism is occassionally discussed, but it is always the same thing; evisceration of the softest intellectual targets imaginable. It saddens me to consider what might happen if so many people, instead, thought for a little while about the science of thing other than vaccines in relationship to autism.

    While I understand your concern over ‘anti vaccination lunacy’, you might consider the possibility of effecting change by eliciting thoughtfull conversations as opposed to scrums. People might learn something. Someone in an area completely unrelated to autism might see a post and think, “you know, I’ve seen something like that in X” and off they go. You might, in fact, reach some of the same people you feel are unreachable.

    Just a thought.

    – pD

  11. #11 mk
    May 1, 2009

    Is it not possible to get the Seed Media Group to go on an all out media blitz–maybe teaming up with Discover–and really shame Ariana Huffington herself into addressing the issue?

    I have no idea what kind of weight you and PalMD or other science bloggers can throw around, but it can’t be nothing. Right?

    I’m just thinking out-loud here but if Seed, Discover and let’s throw in Scientific American were to go all in and relentlessly call out Huffington and her band of anti-science cranks, there would be no way for them to ignore it. No way for the MSM to ignore it. Really need to force the issue. Call in the big guns. Orac, PZ, Dawkins, PalMD, Bad Astronomer, and any and all the others I’m not thinking of… some of you have got to have contacts that have contacts that can pull something like this together? Right?

    Just thinking.

  12. #12 Whitecoat Tales
    May 1, 2009

    I blame Sanjay Gupta
    He’s a doctor, on TV, on a regular basis, on a respectable media outlet. Yet he never tackles these issues. As far as I can tell he has spent more time doing a virtual autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith than he’s spent discussing legitimate science.

    In all seriousness, I think HuffPo is, at least for now, a lost cause. Perhaps one of the other prominent media outlets could carry the flag of SBM.
    Let’s get Orac on CNN or MSNBC!

  13. #13 kathleen
    May 1, 2009

    I think that the best possible thing to do is not to leave comments…look at what happened when Jim Carey wrote that ridiculous anti-vax piece…Too many people with opposing views ranted and raved in the comments…They count on those comments-it keeps them in business. It would be pretty boring over there if no one opposed anything that they said..if it is boring-they will lose readers…and then perhaps they will just go away…

  14. #14 bob
    May 1, 2009

    Boy, pD, do you ever sound concerned!

    I won’t presume to speak for Orac, but my guess about why the people commenting here “eviscerat[e] the softest intellectual targets imaginable” is because said [i]soft intellectuals[/i] are listened to and trusted by the public. Additionally, most antivax people who come here spout [i]intellectually soft[/i] propaganda.

    The antivaxxers are going on TV and shouting down various scientific consensuses. I presume you’ve also registered your concerns with them? Have you received any response? Please, let us know.

  15. #15 bob
    May 1, 2009

    Oof, html fail. I’ll go sit down now.

  16. #16 Moopheus
    May 1, 2009

    “”eviscerat[e] the softest intellectual targets imaginable” is because said [i]soft intellectuals[/i] are listened to and trusted by the public.”

    Indeed, it would be hard to imagine anything intellectually softer than Jenny McCarthy, and yet she has an audience, gets books published, gets on TV shows. She has influence, so that has to be addressed.

  17. #17 Amy Tuteur, MD
    May 1, 2009

    Every responsible medical journalist and blogger should do what he or she can to expose quackery and to let lay people know how to distinguish quacks from legitimate medical experts.

    A lot of lay people lack a basic understanding of science and statistics, and therefore cannot evaluate specific claims. Virtually everyone understands, though, that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

  18. #18 J Todd DeShong
    May 1, 2009

    We will have to start wrtiting to Oprah as well. Oprah is now allowing Jenny McCarthy a place to blog! YIKES!
    Talk about huge, impressionable readership!
    JTD

  19. #19 Phil
    May 1, 2009

    Keep plugging away. I don’t care if Huffpost is a lib blog, anti-science quackery must be exposed and deleted. The more the science blogs criticize, the more likely some science “journalist” might actually bring the hammer down on these kooks.

  20. #20 Orac
    May 1, 2009

    Jenny McCarthy blogging for Oprah? Got a link?

  21. #21 drksky
    May 1, 2009

    @Orac: Apparently, she’s got her own sub-site on oprah.com.

    Here: http://www.oprah.com/contributor/relationships/jennymccarthy

  22. #22 drksky
    May 1, 2009

    …from the first comment in her first blog post:

    I admire Jenny, she’s a honest, truthful, strong woman.

    *Sigh*

  23. #23 m.avery
    May 1, 2009

    Orac for Surgeon General! And stat! Or, at the very least, Orac as talker-for-hire to appear on news shows to clear the anti-vax fog slowly enveloping us. (Please forgive my incoherence, I am iller than the Illiad with piggy poop dropsy disease.)

    Srsly tho, get thee to a news studio, for the love of decency!

  24. #24 Tsu Dho Nimh
    May 1, 2009

    To get Jenny off of Oprah, hit Oprah where it hurts.

    Write (snail mail preferred) to her sponsors and tell them that you disapprove of Oprah’s providing a forum for such dangerous nonsense. Tell them you will recommend that your family, friends and blog readers stay away from Oprah and any product she endorses and any company who pays her air time.

  25. #25 Matthew Cline
    May 1, 2009

    That’s right folks, an anti-vaxer actually used “correlation does not equal causation” to prop up her argument.

    Hey, chicken pox is natural, so “correlation equals causation” doesn’t apply to it. On the other hand, both vaccines and the idea that “correlation equals causation” are the creation of humans, and therefore logically go together. Also, vaccines are chock full of dihydrogen-monoxide.

    @bob:

    I think that what pD was saying is: with regards to autism, Orac keeps re-treading “what doesn’t cause autism” over and over. For a change, instead of posting “We know what doesn’t cause autism”, why not post “I wonder what does cause autism?” If all of the readers of Orac’s blog put their heads together, maybe they’d be able to make a contribution to understanding the cause of autism.

  26. #26 Donna B.
    May 2, 2009

    “I highly doubt, for instance, that Arianna would ever kick Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. off of HuffPo or allow any of her editors to do so. He’s just too high profile a liberal voice.”

    Perhaps this could illuminate the problem?

    Surely I’m not the first person to see the similarity in medical woo and political woo.

  27. #27 SW
    May 2, 2009

    Hi Orac,

    I hope this excellent (in depth) New Yorker profile helps demystify Arianna for you:

    The Oracle
    The many lives of Arianna Huffington.
    by Lauren Collins
       October 13, 2008

    Some excerpts:

    During a student-group fair, Huffington toured the chambers of the university’s debating society. Since girlhood, she had possessed a spiritual impulse, studying Hinduism and fasting on the name day of the Virgin Mary.

    Huffington’s business and spiritual pursuits merge in her interest in human-potential movements, the sorts of popular groundswell that, as she once wrote, will provide us, in “a new age that is being born,” with “an opening for great possibilities of new being, for a breakthrough in our evolution.”

    Some clues into Arianna’s childhood’ New Age and alternative health conditioning:

    On Saturdays, a teacher instructed the family in yoga. Elli[Arianna’s mother] would stand on her head. “She was the nonconformist of the neighborhood,” Huffington says. One of Elli’s favorite sayings was “Your dowry is your education.” Also: “Darling, let it marinate.” And “Give yourself a hundred per cent to whatever you are doing.” (The yoga stuck, but not the admonition against multitasking. Her favorite pose, Huffington told me, is trikonasana, “because you’re doing three things at once.”)

    And more:

    The couple eventually embarked on a period of metaphysical inquiry that alienated some of their friends and colleagues as much as it entertained the press. Christopher Hitchens wrote, “Let the record show that in October 1979. . . Bernard Levin achieved the total state of self-absorption towards which he had been moving for so long. The venue was the Café Royal: amid incense and vaguely Oriental music, flanked by his companion, Levin rose and told a large invited audience how they could be ‘changed,’ by investing £150 in a 50-hour ‘Insight training.’ ” (Insight was founded by the spiritual leader John-Roger, with whom Huffington has remained affiliated. Huffington denies that incense and Oriental music played a role in the event.) When Levin died, in 2004, his obituary in the Times noted that Huffington’s “interest in mystic cults . . . was to lead him into one of the more embarrassing episodes of his journalism—his hyperbolic praise through a number of columns of the self-promoting guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

    The site has been a triumph. Since the launch, Huffington and Lerer have raised eleven million dollars. This year, they began to hire reporters and started a local bureau in Chicago; at the Democratic National Convention, they set up a lounge, providing free yoga lessons and facials to conventioneers.

    The problem you see is the not the site’s wellness editor. It’s Arianna herself. She is deep into New Age woo. Yes, she is a liberal too, just like Deepak Chopra and many of her site’s contributors of woo.

  28. #29 Why Be Concerned?
    May 2, 2009

    Why would you be concerned with the Huffington Post?

    I mean you have all the answers, don’t you? You know what causes autism. You know what doesn’t cause autism. You have all the science that you need to answer important questions. You are the experts. Parents who see their children suffer vaccine reactions are idiots. Why worry?

  29. #30 Militant Agnostic
    May 2, 2009

    Why be concerned:

    Polio
    Measles Encaphalitis
    Cervical Cancer
    Tetanus
    Birth defects due to Rubella
    Shingles and other Chicken Pox sequalea
    etc.

    Versus post hoc fallacies

  30. #31 Vindaloo
    May 2, 2009

    For a change, instead of posting “We know what doesn’t cause autism”, why not post “I wonder what does cause autism?” If all of the readers of Orac’s blog put their heads together, maybe they’d be able to make a contribution to understanding the cause of autism.

    Yeah, I agree. Orac, could you please couch your criticisms of pseudoscience, greed, and ignorance with some flowery language and niceties? We are arrogant and ignorant and we need our egos massaged. I can read an abstract on PubMed therefore I’m smart. I read Yahoo! groups about Autism so I should put my kid into a balloon, fill it with oxygen, and let some hack tech smoke a joint near the regulator. It’s all about respect. We need to respect both sides of the argument. Like JB Handley. He’s an ignorant piece of shit. But we should respect him as an ignorant piece of shit. Hell, I’m into this rephrasing bit. I wonder if Orac will play ball?

  31. #32 Superdave
    May 2, 2009

    I just beat the swineflu in 5 days! We don’t need no stinking vaccines. My son got the mumps, and got rid of them in 1 day! We don’t need no stinking vaccines. Bayer sold vaccines tainted with HIV, I don’t need no stinking Bayer. Let’s cultivate viruses on monkey tissue, good idea. Let’s add heavy metals and antifreeze to vaccines, good idea. Fcuk the drug companies, try homeopathy, concentrate on your diet and lifestyle. The drugs can’t save you from yourself.

  32. #33 Well Educated
    May 2, 2009

    These idiots that think vaccines are bad should be put in a camp or something.

  33. #34 Marion Delgado
    May 2, 2009

    Huffpo is a popular site and hence populist. Look at Deepak Chopra on I.D. Salon.com blogs had Jeffrey Dach for I.D. a while back. The anti-vaccine thing is all over popular culture and the net.

    The “too many vaccines at once” “greedy pharma industry” stuff is plausible, so fighting it is hard. I think however we get people, especially children, vaccinated it’s all good. If they want to do it more gradually, fine. If they want more oversight, fine. Whatever it takes.

    But Huffpo is not a science venue, and this only cements their reputation.

  34. #35 prolix
    May 2, 2009

    You’ve got a soapbox. Use it. Why are you so insistent on denying the other guy’s his? “But it’s for their own good” — always the argument of bluenoses and censors.

  35. #36 Christo
    May 2, 2009

    This blog is obviously shill-ville for the ‘Order’ that wants us ALL exterminated. When their through, they will eliminate the minions too. Wake up people. Look up the history of Baxter, Merck, and Bayer. A similar outbreak happened in the 1970s. The people that took the vaccines died. Then Bayer knowingly sold vaccines loaded with HIV. The agenda and the future, IF they have their way, will not include YOU. It’s called Eugenics. Wake up. Stop being children or deceived shills (yes, they will be rid of you too). Do your research.

  36. #37 prolix
    May 2, 2009

    “… should be put in a camp or something”

    The voice of reason and enlightenment?

  37. #38 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    (I’m posting anonymously, because I don’t need the backlash.)

    I think the jury is still out on using mercury as a preservative in vaccines. (My kid’s grownup; I don’t have a dog in this fight.)

    People I respect have argued that there’s sufficient evidence linking mercury in vaccines to autism. Certainly enough doubt exists to warrant further study. Further, there’s apparently a conflict of interest on the part of pro-mercury leaders. Lastly, the government’s conclusion that mercury wasn’t harmful was authored during the Bush The Lesser Administration. If BushCo claimed the sun rose in the East, I’d still second source it.

    Now to the meta discussion…

    The pitched rhetorical battle between the pro and con sides of this argument reminds me of the battle over the electronic voting machines. I’m very involved in that issue. For years, anyone who pointed out the obvious (machines were insecure and unreliable) were shouted down.

    Just like with the machines, the burden of proof (of safety) is on the pro mercury crowd. And, frankly, demonizing the anti-mercury people gives me pause and makes me think there’s something to the criticism.

    Having said all that…

    This is an issue of public safety. Even if mercury in vaccines does have harmful side effects for a small percentage of kids, it still may be worthwhile to use it. To the best of my knowledge, mercury is the only known/practical preservative, which is required to deliver vaccinations to the millions of children in the 3rd (developing world). On the balance, using mercury is a net benefit.

    In conclusion…

    What I’d really like is to have more basic research into finding practical alternatives to using mercury. Because, honestly, putting a known toxin into humans doesn’t sound like a terrific idea. We humans are clever; I’m confident a solution that satisfies everyone’s concerns can be developed.

  38. #39 Robert S.
    May 2, 2009

    AC #38: You deserve the backlash, either you are too lazy or too stupid to look up the fact that of all the standard childhood vaccines only 2 influenza vaccines contain more then trace amounts of thimeorsol. In short there are no “pro-mercury leaders” and you are an asshat.

  39. #40 scientist
    May 2, 2009

    I am actually finishing up writing a grant on autism – my first on the subject. I am pretty surprised by what I’ve found. For monozygotic twins, there is a 90% concordance rate, while it’s only 10% for dizygotic twins. So, it’s very genetic. That’s actually been pretty clear for a long time for anyone who cared to look at the data. Regarding the “epidemic”: as recently as the 70’s, doctors blamed aloof mothers for the autism spectrum disorders (not that it was recognized as a spectrum back then). So, there has clearly been an increasing awareness and evolving diagnostic criteria in the past 40 years that has contributed to the increase in “disease”. But something else has happened: people have babies at an older age. And, again, there is evidence that the age of both the mother and the father matter (not only for autism here, but for many genetic conditions).

    We are getting to the point where we’ll have the genes figured out. There are already a bunch of deletions that are known to correlate tightly with the spectrum. We’ve got much better ways of looking at the genome now than even a few years ago, and this technology is showing the exact mutations that correlate with disease.

    It’s clear that vaccination does not correlate with disease. The only correlation is that the lack of vaccination contributes to disease once herd immunity is gone. And, it exposes immune suppressed and the very young to disease and possible death even with herd immunity.

    So, anonymous, I don’t know who you respect, but I doubt they are going to beat me out for funding. Ask the people that are actually studying the disease (not medical doctors – they aren’t scientists). It’s amazing how much data is out there, and I think it’s clear that this needs to be communicated to the public. I wish I were a more senior scientist with a soap box. Hopefully I can earn one someday.

  40. #41 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    pro mercury crowd

    Can you point me to their club house?

    What I’d really like is to have more basic research into finding practical alternatives to using mercury. Because, honestly, putting a known toxin into humans doesn’t sound like a terrific idea. We humans are clever; I’m confident a solution that satisfies everyone’s concerns can be developed.

    Oh good grief.

  41. #42 ColinB
    May 2, 2009

    To Orac’s (and PalMD’s) original question – what is to be done? Would it be possible for you guys to author some articles FOR the HuffPost? Try to get a bit of reason on their pages? As much as I love the SciBlogs community, I think that right here Orac you are preaching to the choir, to a certain extent (that and the trolls who are never going to see reason).

    I think you need to take the show on the road, so to speak. Take it to the people who would believe Jenny, if she were the only one that they see. I guess the trick is finding a ‘popular’ forum…

    On another topic, I would love to see more articles on the state of the art in Autism research – Orac’s examination of cancer treatment papers are fascinating. I do realize that it’s not your speciality, so I can understand if you don’t have time to follow EVERYTHING. :-)

    Colin

  42. #43 Waldo McGuffin
    May 2, 2009

    Equate this sort of thinking with Creationism and Intelligent Design.

    Also, remember that Arianna Huffington ultimately really only cares about herself. She was a Republican until it was no longer convenient to be so, and will probably switch from her liberal ways if she ever sees the tide turning.

    Why anybody listens to her at all continues to amaze me. She’s an empty suit.

  43. #44 Jake Dickerman
    May 2, 2009

    Speaking as a person who blogs over there and has tried to actually write in favor of science, part of the problem is the audience for woo. I mean, I don’t get paid at all when I write something for them. I don’t have a book to sell, all I can do is hope to get some exposure, and writing a pro-vaccine article brings in the horde of crazies who want to tear your lungs out for speaking against Jenny. It’s just not a fun response to get, and when you’re primarily a comedy writer who just feels strongly about the skeptical movment… In the end, it’s more fun to write a dick joke.

    When I wrote those two anti-Kirby articles though, I did feel that the Lifestyles editor was glad for it. I’m not even sure that it’s about the editor, I think it might be deeper than that. Bill Maher and Arriana Huffington are close, and Maher himself is anti-vax.

    In the end, I think the readers and commentors themselves who make it an unpleasant place to write pro-science pieces.

  44. #45 Umm
    May 2, 2009

    An outbreak of swine flu in 1976 killed 1 person. The Swine Flu vaccine issued after the outbreak killed at least 25 people.

    Go ahead, take your vax, Jew Dr Pianka wants most of you dead.

  45. #46 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    Go ahead, take your vax, JewDr Pianka wants most of you dead.

    And you’re expecting to be taken seriously moron?

  46. #47 Vindaloo
    May 2, 2009

    The best some Generation Rescue-loving antivaxxer can come up with is an anti-semetic jab. Is this for real? Dude, your bell has rung, you are now a Rescue Angel.

  47. #48 bob
    May 2, 2009

    Vindaloo, you’re on fire! I award you two Internets for your last two replies. Congratulations.

    I’ve having a lot of trouble figuring out which of these comments are serious. Between the lack of sarcasm tags, whatever the antivax version of Poe’s law is called, and the straight-up lunacy of the antivax movement, I have no clue whether to respond to these guys seriously.

    Nonexistent mercury, conspiracy theories, antisemitism, blatant logical fallacies … it’s like talking to young earth creationists or flat earthers! They’re impossible to parody!

  48. #49 Umm
    May 2, 2009

    You probably don’t even know who Dr Pianka is you faggot. Do you say it with a lisp? Ewww you a waycist.

  49. #50 Dedj
    May 2, 2009

    Dr Pianka was extensively discussed here, and the hatchet job against his character and career was scrutinised and shown to be severely in error, both from a logical point of view, and from the the point of view of correctly reporting what he actually said.

    We do not need to discuss the unfounded rumours made against Dr Pianka again.

  50. #51 mk
    May 2, 2009

    Wait a minute folks. Give the poor guy a break. After all, he did choose for his moniker, “Umm”. Most dimwits would probably go with “Der” or “Duh” or “Blah” or “Huh?” or… everyone’s favorite, “Snnnnrrrrkkkggghhhaawwwkkkthoooey!”

    But, no…. our boy went with “Umm!” Clearly, there’s a brilliance to be reckoned with!

  51. #52 Umm
    May 2, 2009

    Never mind me. I’m just a drunken jew hater stuck at home on a Saturn’s day night. I’m moving on from this pseudo science blog. I’ve worked as an EMT, interned at a county, close to my current IP addy if webasterd wishes to pursue it. I currently work in a medical billing office and seen who gets the vax and who doesn’t. Those that don’t receive the vax? A hint, ryhmes with clue. The office I work at has been apart of three legal investigations where the paperwork was submitted as evidence…two cases were dropped under less than curious circumstances. A hint to the religion of the two doctor’s practices that were dismissed from the lawyers investigation. Ryhmes with blue. All three cases, very well dressed lawyers from Merck gave their depositions and the cases were closed, with the exception of the third doctor. Case still ongoing. A black doctor who donates several hours a week to a clinic serving those who cannot afford health care. Merck lawyers gave depositions contradicting the good black doctors concerns for ingredients in the MMR jab. Even though the lawsuit is NOT SUING the black doctor, because he doesn’t give the vaccine, The AMA has joined the lawsuit implicating malpractice against the black doctor. And the reason the AMA is involved with the suit is sealed deposition…why? Something to hide my guess. There are other well known parties involved with the case.

    Dr Pianka is just a poor little misunderstand scientist and has been vindicated on the pages of scienceblogs.com . Umm otay. We do not need to discuss anything anymore Dedj, scienceblogs has already explained it for us. MON

  52. #53 flim flam
    May 3, 2009

    scratch the surface of the anti vax conspiracy loons and there it is… the jooz!!! rhymes with blooz, and nooz and zooz, this is fun!. Like an anti semitic dr seus! ( dr antijewz?) Is there anything woody allen and his mates won’t do? they must be awfully busy, what with their illuminati new world order takeover, injecting innocent gentile babies with teh ebil munkey virus and 9/11, oh and persecuting poor imaginary black doctors. If this conspiracy is so all powerful umm, why are you still here? why haven’t the black helicopters come and spirited you away to a gulag somewhere? ah! i get it.. THEY make you look crazy so no-one believes you!. so cunning…

  53. #54 Chris Davis
    May 3, 2009

    I’m most interested in the info from Scientist @40. Genes then, at least largely.

    There was a remarkable SciAm article some years back describing the correlation between Thalidomide and autism. It seems that the disaster had some positive output in that taking the drug on specific days during pregnancy produced specific defects in the child – based on the particular embryonic processes taking place at the time. (Forgives, pliz, those who know this already.)

    The remarkable thing was that profound autism was strongly correlated with using Thalidomide extremely early in pregnancy: a couple of days just a few weeks along, before almost any neural structure had developed. The author had located a tiny piece of missing neural architecture – corresponding to a 1mm deleted slice of tissue in the brainstem (!) of cadavers with thalidomide-induced autism.

    This was the only structural change he could find, and I suspect he may have been somewhat sidetracked by it. Fascinating, though, that the deletion of such an early step in development (if it really is significant) could lead to a problem that manifests itself in deficits in higher functions.

    But this may well already be old and invalidated data, of course…

  54. #55 Caro
    May 3, 2009

    So censorship is the answer? Good job, Orac, you’re becoming the Thought Police. Next is New Speak.

    Try censoring the “anti-vaccine” movement, and you’ll only piss them off and give them further credibility.

  55. #56 Orac
    May 3, 2009

    Never mind me. I’m just a drunken jew hater stuck at home on a Saturn’s day night. I’m moving on from this pseudo science blog. I’ve worked as an EMT, interned at a county, close to my current IP addy if webasterd wishes to pursue it. I currently work in a medical billing office and seen who gets the vax and who doesn’t. Those that don’t receive the vax? A hint, ryhmes with clue. The office I work at has been apart of three legal investigations where the paperwork was submitted as evidence…two cases were dropped under less than curious circumstances. A hint to the religion of the two doctor’s practices that were dismissed from the lawyers investigation. Ryhmes with blue. All three cases, very well dressed lawyers from Merck gave their depositions and the cases were closed, with the exception of the third doctor.

    Alright, enough with the anti-Semitic bullshit. I don’t moderate comments, but racism, anti-Semitism, etc. are not tolerated, especially since slapping down Holocaust deniers has been a theme of this blog (in addition to its medical and scientific topics) since the very beginning:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/history/holocaust_denial/

  56. #57 Orac
    May 3, 2009

    So censorship is the answer? Good job, Orac, you’re becoming the Thought Police. Next is New Speak.

    Wow, I must be really good at “censorship,” given that I’ve only ever banned two people over four years and that, even though a major theme of this blog is slapping down Holocaust deniers, I let an idiotic anti-Semite comment without deleting his post. Come to think of it, I let you post without “censoring” anything, too.

    If only the Huffington Post were so liberal in its comment policies.

  57. #58 Chris
    May 3, 2009

    Chris Davis said

    There was a remarkable SciAm article some years back describing the correlation between Thalidomide and autism. …

    But this may well already be old and invalidated data, of course…

    Yes, it is old and invalidated data. Especially since there were less than a couple of dozen American children affected (mostly dependents of military personnel stationed in Europe). Thalidomide was never approved for sale in the USA until very recently for certain specific medical reasons (and never for anyone who is pregnant!).

    There is, however, some interesting stuff in epigenetics, like what I saw in a NOVA program: Ghost in Your Genes.

  58. #59 Chris
    May 3, 2009

    AArgh… I thought I checked it in preview… this is supposed be in the blockquote:

    But this may well already be old and invalidated data, of course…

  59. #60 Caro
    May 3, 2009

    Orac,
    Of course, you completely missed what I was getting at. Are you sure English is your first language?

    No, I was responding to you and the rest of the vaccine injury deniers wanting to tell Huffington Post to censor what you deem “anti-vaccine” propaganda. It was actually pretty damn clear for most people with a couple of brain cells to rub together to understand. I guess you aren’t one of them.

    Of course, you are also validating yourself as the Ministry of Truth with what you deem as good information or what is propaganda. Orwell would be proud.

    You try to silence the parents of vaccine injured children, and you will only piss them off. It will give their argument more validity.

  60. #61 HCN
    May 3, 2009

    Caro said “No, I was responding to you and the rest of the vaccine injury deniers wanting to tell Huffington Post to censor what you deem “anti-vaccine” propaganda.”

    No one has ever denied that vaccines can cause injury. Since you seem to think this is a major issue could you kindly tell me what actual factual data that I can find in my local medical school library shows that:

    1) The MMR is riskier than measles, mumps and rubella?

    2) The DTaP is riskier than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (and pertussis kills over a dozen American babies per year, so I am really interested in what science you have).

    Caro continued “You try to silence the parents of vaccine injured children, and you will only piss them off. It will give their argument more validity.”

    Does this sentiment also apply to the Age of Autism blog? They are notorious for moderating with a cast iron clown glove. Are you going over there and telling them to stop censuring comments, and to let our dissenting comments through? Or how about the HuffPo? They seem to also moderate with a iron cast clown glove!

    Oh, and when I mean science I mean something like this list gathered by searching PubMed:

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.
    Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.

    N Engl J Med. 2001 Aug 30;345(9):656-61.
    The risk of seizures after receipt of whole-cell pertussis or measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Mar;160(3):302-9.
    Impact of specific medical interventions on reducing the prevalence of mental retardation.

    Expert Rev Vaccines. 2005 Apr;4(2):173-84.
    Acellular pertussis vaccines in Japan: past, present and future.

    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Dec;159(12):1136-44.
    Economic evaluation of the 7-vaccine routine childhood immunization schedule in the United States, 2001.

    J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;46(6):572-9.
    No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.

    J Autism Dev Disord. 2007 Feb;37(2):210-7.
    MMR-vaccine and regression in autism spectrum disorders: negative results presented from Japan.

    Now if I posted that list on AoA or HuffPo do you think it would get published?

  61. #62 Lucas McCarty
    May 3, 2009

    No one has ever denied vaccine injury happens, that’s why there is a special compensation program where a claimant only has to show it’s plausible a certain case was caused by a vaccine, without actually having to outright prove it.

    The Huffington Post does not require any encouragement for the censorship it does already.

    In fact, contrast the freedom of speech here and any where else in the skeptic blogosphere with what anti-vaxxers allow to be posted on their own sites and you must have giant brass balls to throw out accusations of censorship.

  62. #63 Dedj
    May 3, 2009

    “Dr Pianka is just a poor little misunderstand scientist”

    I don’t think he’s poor or of abnormally small stature.

    “and has been vindicated on the pages of scienceblogs.com.”

    Not just here. The absence of any colloborating evidence – even after investigation by DHS (the security people, not the sofa store) – as well as the publication of statements supporting his explanation of his statements, leads one to conclude that – even if one doesn’t have enough evidence to say that he definetly did not make those statements – the is a absence of any credibility to the claim (and apparently this applies to the cliamants too) that he did make the statements under contention, and that they meant what is being claimed.

    “We do not need to discuss anything anymore Dedj, scienceblogs has already explained it for us.”

    Exactly. The explanation is freely available. So far no-one has managed to provide a even half way decent counter-explanation, that isn’t merely based on regurgitating the original assertion.

  63. #64 Skemono
    May 3, 2009

    No, I was responding to you and the rest of the vaccine injury deniers wanting to tell Huffington Post to censor what you deem “anti-vaccine” propaganda.

    Yes, if by “censor” you mean “not provide a free platform with which to spread their views.”

    But that would just be stupid, because that’s not censorship.

    You try to silence the parents of vaccine injured children, and you will only piss them off.

    We have vocally criticized their lies and nonsense. Apparently this is the same as trying to silence them.

    It will give their argument more validity.

    So you think that truth is decided by whether or not one side tries to silence the other (or whether one side is pissed off–it’s not entirely clear)? That’s… that’s fantastic, really it is.

    Also, you may want to consider which side is really censorious: people who recognize that vaccines are far, far, far more beneficial than detrimental, given that they are remarkably efficient at preventing the contraction of horrible diseases with relatively limited side effects (none of which include autism), as exemplified by Orac, who allows almost anyone to comment freely; or the people such as can be found at Age of Autism, who prevent comments from being posted that they find contrary to their made-up worldview.

  64. #65 Leni
    May 3, 2009

    Never mind me. I’m just a drunken jew hater stuck at home on a Saturn’s day night.

    Oh look. Finally someone for Dawn.

  65. #66 Joseph C.
    May 4, 2009

    It was actually pretty damn clear for most people with a couple of brain cells to rub together to understand. I guess you aren’t one of them.

    Pretty vicious burn there. I think the reason Orac hasn’t responded is because he’s still crying.

  66. #67 Mommamia
    May 4, 2009

    A good example of why the anti-vaccine movement is gaining steam? Credibility:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/05/when_big_pharma_pays_a_publisher_to_publ.php

    Sure there is a lot of misinformation on the big ole web, but it also levels the playing field in many ways.

    I think we are only scratching the surface of the potential problems with our current vaccine policy and the movement to make drug manufacturers answer to the “minions” is not a bad outcome of the public outcry, whether warranted or not.

    Only time will tell…

  67. #68 hat_eater
    May 7, 2009

    To all whom it may concern: if you use Firefox and Foxmarks/Xmarks, the newest version lets you write site reviews. Use it wisely. Good luck.
    http://www.xmarks.com/site/www.huffingtonpost.com/
    Sorry for spamming a bit, but I’m posting this to several blogs where discussion about the HuffPo war on health takes place.

  68. #69 Astor
    July 30, 2009

    More and more the causes of autism are being investigated as being hereditary. My child has autism. I have a cousin who has it. My in-laws have several autistic people in their families. The problem with autism is it’s still so recent in diagnosis, research and treatment. The anti-vaccine movement hope that they have a cause for their child’s autism and a scapegoat. They also hope for a cure. It’s a vain hope and there are too many PT Barnums out there to exploit that vain hope. What is it that these anti-vaccination people hope to accomplish? Beneath the hysteria is a hard core bunch of cynical hucksters hoping to sell stuff to the parents of autistic children, and develop more political clout to sell more stuff.

    Has anyone ever considered that autism may be the next step in our evolution? We have more and more need for specialists and it’s interesting to me that so many autistic kids have a natural aptitude for computers and machines. Many are incredibly focused and compartmentalized. Instead of being generalist, “it takes a village” kinds of people, autistic people can shut out the outside and concentrate on their task at hand.

    My cousin won’t look you in the eye, can barely string two verbal sentences together, but he has a PhD in research & development in a very specialized field of science.

  69. #70 Laugher
    September 30, 2009

    There was a huge story this week about a mandatory vaccination resulting in the death of a british child

    However HuffingtonPost did not highlight the story
    Whereas the Drudge report featured it as their headline story

    So your accusation that they are more anti-vaccine then others does not appear to hold up

  70. #71 Militant Agnostic
    September 30, 2009

    The HPV Vaccine is not mandatory in Britain you ignoramus.

  71. #72 Laugher
    September 30, 2009

    I stand corrected, that’s what I get for believing drudge I guess
    However the person in question was 14, so I would imagine she had no choice in the matter. I have never heard of a 14 year old wanting to get shots on there own, someone pushed them into it

    But anyway, the fact remains that Huffington Posts main competitor highlighted the story, whereas huffingtonpost did not. So your assertion that they are more anti vaccine than others is unfounded in fact

  72. #73 MI Dawn
    September 30, 2009

    @ Laugher, if you’d done a little research you’d know the details of the story. (Try the Times of London).

    Yes, a 14 year old girl died a few hours after receiving the vaccine. Yes, her parents consented to it (the shots were given at school but all under 16 had to have parental consent). The preliminary autopsy reports are indicating the girl had a underlying medical issue which lead to her death, not the vaccine, however the full autopsy results won’t be available for a few weeks.

  73. #74 escribacat
    January 3, 2010

    Come and post this article on http://www.planetpov.com. Many of us are refugees from Huffington Post and keep a tight watch on the nonsense that goes on over there. A lot of Huffy readers also read Planet POV. Check it out. This article would be a hit.

  74. #75 barb
    March 29, 2010

    What to do about the Huffington Post’s support for vaccine nonsense and quackery?

    First, allopathic medicine is actually a religion, based on belief and not scientific facts… “Most of the everyday practices of modern medicine are unproven if we go by the government’s own standards. In 1978, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), an arm of the United States Congress, issued a major research report that concluded “only 10 to 20 percent of all procedures currently used in medical practices have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.” In other words, 80 to 90 percent of what doctors do to you is scientifically unproven guesswork. By this government-supported definition, most of modern medicine is quackery.”—Richard Walters (Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies,” U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, PB 286-929, 1978).

    There is a new book out “The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic” by Heather Fraser. Heather is a historian and mother of a child who as a fatal peanut allergy. Heather was curious why there is a sudden epidemic of peanut allergy among children. What she found out is that peanut oil is an ingredient in vaccinations. Food oils can be mixed together and used as a diluent. This is a protected trade secret and does not have to appear on the package insert. Patents make interesting reading….

    1 child in 125 now has a serious peanut allergy. 1 child in 17 under three has a serious food allergy.

    Even if you want to deny that there is or could be a connection, it should make you uneasy that the vaccine manufacturers don’t have to list all of the ingredients on the package insert. Your doctor is not entitled to know that he is injecting you with a mix of fish/peanut/sesame/soy oils?

  75. #76 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 29, 2010

    @barb:
    Great, the Zombie Statistic is still on the march, and has bitten you on the neck.
    That 10 – 20% number was based on a survey of 19 (yes, 19) British GPs in 1959 regarding their prescribing practices. It was not even an attempt to estimate the scientific validity of medical interventions. How it ended up in the report is apparently a mystery. Read the following for an account of this falsehood: http://www.veterinarywatch.com/CTiM.htm
    I propose that anyone attempting to use this “stat” to support their argument should automatically lose.
    BTW, I call it the Zombie Statistic because it will never die.

  76. #77 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 29, 2010

    It especially won’t die when people like Barb copy it word-for-word (including the false punctuation mistakes that falsely attribute words to the report that it does not contain) from Whale.to, which is of course a site that also presents as fact the infamous anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” and claims about Satanic ley lines.

    Here’s the sentence that originally appeared in the report:

    It has been estimated that only 10 to 20 percent of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.

    So not only are the quotes which enclose everything from “Most of the …” to “is quackery” and claim it all to be cited to “Richard Walters (Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies,” U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, PB 286-929, 1978)” a lie…

    So, too, are the words that the OTA “issued a major research report that concluded” a complete falsehood. The report merely repeated an uncited estimate, and provides absolutely no information about who produced that estimate, how they produced that estimate, where they got the data on which they based the estimate, how they analyzed the data – probably because all that information was unknown to the report author. No honest person would describe the “only 10 to 20″ claim as a “conclusion” of a report when the report doesn’t spend a single word describing why a reasonable person would think the claim to be true!

  77. #78 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 29, 2010

    After a little more research, I’ve managed to straighten out the bad quotation situation a little.

    It appears that the original lie, that “a major research report … concluded” something about how many therapies had been tested by controlled trial, was the invention of an author named Richard Walters. The accompanying gloss which claims that everything outside that 10 to 20% is therefore “scientifically unproven guesswork … quackery” (with its inherent false dilemma that controlled trials are the only form of scientific study) is also Walters’.

    Of course, he wrote all the above falsehoods in his book on alternative cancer therapies where, after having ranted about mainstream medicine that isn’t tested by controlled trials being “quackery”, he then promotes therapies like Gerson and Hoxsey that certainly never showed effectiveness in controlled trials. Go figure.

    Anyways, it was then Whale.to that copied Walters’ words and falsely attributed them to “Richard Walters (Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies,” U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, PB 286-929, 1978)”, thus nonsensically making it look like Richard Walters wrote a 1978 report for the Office of Technology Assessment which cited the “conclusion” of a 1978 report from the Office of Technology Assessment.

    So, Barb? Here’s a free tip for you: If someone claims “Oh, Really Impressive Source X said this-and-this which really supports my worldview!” — especially if the “someone” claiming this is Whale.to, or anyone Whale.to would quote approvingly — it’s usually a good idea to investigate and find out if Really Impressive Source X actually said what they were claimed to.

  78. #79 Is He Cheating
    March 14, 2011

    It seems like the bigger issue here is regarding free speech. Even if some people do consider it quackery, restricting the ability of an organization to post information on those viewpoints would be like only allowing one candidate to speak during a political campaign. What citizens or readers do with the information is their own responsibility and trying to restrict the posting of information would be diving into the realm of censorship.

  79. #80 Beamup
    March 14, 2011

    Nice threadomancy. Also a perfect example of a straw man, since no restrictions on free speech are being proposed or advocated.

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