Respectful Insolence

Yesterday, I wrote about Jake Crosby, the token college kid on the spectrum over at the happy home for wandering anti-vaccine zealots, Age of Autism. Specifically, I felt sorry for him because of his rather tortured bit of conspiracy mongering that postulated deep, dark connections between Adam Bly, the founder of Seed Media Group, the company he founded, ScienceBlogs, and multiple big pharma countries, all tied together with a breathtakingly tenuous connections all wrapped up into a big fat ball of nonsense.

Ooops. He did it again, with part 2 of Part II Seed Media’s “Science”Blogs: A 180 Degree Shift in Reporting.

Since it’s mostly a rehash of part one, complete with the same logical fallacies used in approximately the same proportions. It continues Jake’s maddening tendency to look for superficial connections between pharma, Seed, and bloggers and concluding that any connection, no matter how minor, superficial, or tenuous must mean that they are all in cahoots, working for the evil purpose of denying The Truth about vaccines and autism. Unfortunately, it shows me that maybe I was wrong to characterize him as just a crazy, mixed up kid who’s fallen in with the wrong crowd. However, the optimist in me leads me to hope that my original characterization was right.

Because there’s just so much nonsense in part 2, much of it repetitive and a rehash of part 1, I’ll focus on two things that Jake seems to consider to be smoking gun evidence. First, he takes a shot at my bud, skeptic extraordinaire and host of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, Steve Novella:

The outcome of SEED’s 180-degree shift in the reporting of this controversy was its ties to other sources sympathetic to the pharmaceutical industry. An interesting connection I found was the link between Adam Bly’s “Science”Blogs and another collection of blogs, “Science”BasedMedicine. Both blogs share some bloggers and views on the vaccine-autism controversy. Some bloggers who typically use pseudonyms on “Science”Blogs go by their real names on “Science”BasedMedicine, as if to give the impression that there are more bloggers posting with this position than there actually are. The person who founded “Science”BasedMedicine, Steven Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale who specializes in injecting Botox, is also a Scientific Advisor to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).

First off, Science-Based Medicine is not a “collective” of blogs. It’s a group blog, with around 13 bloggers, some of whom post regularly, some of whom are occasional contributors, and which, sadly, has been down for the last couple of days. Jake also repeats the despicable distortion, first “pioneered” by J.B. Handley and refuted originally by Steve the first time AoA tried it:

How pathetic. He then lists the uses of Botox and descriptions of its potential for toxicity, as if this somehow impugns my character or judgment as a phsician. This is really low. First of all, I do not use Botox for cosmetic purposes, only for neurological purposes, for which its use is clearly established as the standard of care. But he tries to make some tortured argument that I use Botox, and Botox is used for cosmetic purposes, and therefore… What, exactly?

Yes, Jake, that was pathetic when J.B. first said it, and it’s even more pathetic when you parroted it. Obviously, neither J.B. nor Jake is aware that Botox has several therapeutic uses. Some of them including cervical dystonia, blepharospasm, strabismus, and severe underarm sweating that antiperspirants can’t control. There are other, surgical, uses of Botox, too. For example, it is used to treat achalasia, a cause of trouble swallowing due to spasm of the lower esophageal sphincter. Gastroenterologists inject Botox into the sphincter to stop the spasm and allow normal swallowing. Indeed, there are an increasing number of medical indications for Botox that have nothing to do with the traditional cosmetic anti-aging uses, which, by the way, AoA’s patron celebrity spokesmodel Jenny McCarthy just loves.

Even sillier is the implication that, because Steve has been an advisor for ACSH. Odd that Jake didn’t notice that Wally Sampson, another SBM blogger, is also a scientific advisor for ACSH. He must be emulating Dan Olmsted again in the completeness of his reporting. In any case, that’s it for SBM. The rest of the SBM bloggers, my “friend” included, do not have any connection with ACSH. Moreover, I can tell Jake that my “friend,” who also blogs at SBM, isn’t exactly a fan of ACSH. Indeed, although he appreciates its anti-tobacco stance, He does not like how on virtually every other public health issue, ACSH sides with industry. ACSH is just too pro-business, and he doesn’t consider it to be a reliable source of information on matters of public health. Indeed, here’s an example, specifically:

The bill also encourages young women of specific higher-risk populations, including African-Americans and Ashkenazi Jewish populations, to ask their doctor about getting genetic testing. Again, this has the potential to do more harm than good. The field of genetic screening is in its infancy, and widespread testing raises more questions than it answers. For instance, a finding of genetic mutation, while terrifying, not only offers little information, it may lead some women to overreact. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, explained in a letter to ACS volunteers that some women with positive results may choose a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, a procedure wherein both breasts are removed to prevent a cancer they do not, and may never, have. He wrote that “many of these women will in reality have mutations of no significance.” In addition to unnecessary, disfiguring and risky surgery, “there are already scientific data to show that many women…will suffer significant emotional and mental harms” just from finding out they have the gene mutation.

While I would agree that most African-American women don’t need genetic screening unless they have a strong family history. I would disagree about the Ashkenazi Jewish populations, given the high incidence of breast cancer and the prevalence of BRCA mutations, many of which confer up to an 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer. Here’s what the 2009 National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines say about BRCA mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish populations:

For an individual of ethnicity associated with higher mutation frequence (eg, founder populations of Ashkenazi jewish, Icelandic, Swedish, Hungarian, or other) no additional family history may be required.f

“f.Testing for founder-specific mutation(s), if available, should be performed first. Full sequencing may be considered if other HBOC criteria met.

These recommendations are based on level 2A evidence by evidence-based medicine guidelines. In other words, serious consideration for testing for founder mutations at least and at the most full BRCA sequencing (if other risk factors are present) should be considered for all Ashkenazi Jewish women

.

I guess that’s what you get when a lawyer tries to write about health.

Oh, dear. Have I ruined Jake’s little conspiracy theory?

Jake is also very upset at the “censorship” supposedly exercised against a German ScienceBlogger who made some blatantly anti-vaccine posts:

What gained front-page coverage then, would be met with censorship by Seed today. On the German-speaking “Science”Blogs, co-managed by Seed Media Group and Hubert Burda Media, censorship is exactly what happened to Austrian journalist, author and documentary filmmaker Bert Ehgartner. He had been blogging for the German “Science”Blogs from August until December of 2008 when an entry by him stirred up a firestorm. The thread title was “Aluminium muss raus aus Impfstoffen!” which translates to “Aluminum must be eliminated from vaccines!” It featured an interview between Ehgartner and a vaccine safety researcher, Dr. Klaus Hartmann, who criticized the presence of aluminum salts in the HPV vaccine, and its inadequate safety trials. This quickly prompted a full-flung attack from the bloggers and readers of the US “Science”Blogs, calling Ehgartner an “anti-vaccinationist.”

Let’s take a trip back down memory lane, shall we? Here’s what happened. Read the full account if you have time, but basically Ehgartner was spewing all sorts of pseudoscience about autism, ADHD, and aluminum in vaccines as a cause of autism. In the same post, I chastised, another German ScienceBlogger for promoting Ayurvedic medicine and defending the presence of heavy metals in it. Funny how Jake neglected to mention that part of the post. After all, he should be totally down with getting rid of mercury, lead, and other heavy metals in herbal medicines. In any case, here was the reason I went so ballistic:

Perhaps I’m ridiculously naïve, but I always thought that, whatever our fractious behavior and arguments over religion or politics or even scientific issues (which, let’s face it, are often full of sound and fury, signifying nothing), one thing ScienceBlogs stands for is communicating what good science is to the masses and why it’s so cool. I’ve also assumed that what it stands against is pseudoscience and misinformation. My complaint is not a matter of scientific disagreement or being annoyed by a couple of contrarians defending positions that are weak and not well-supported by the evidence. It is about clear and obvious misinformation about what science says about vaccines, autism, ADHD, and disease published under the banner of ScienceBlogs. In the case of Peter Artmann, it is about a ScienceBlogger who defends obvious quackery and makes utterly unscientific assertions while doing so. I don’t know about my fellow ScienceBloggers, be they English- or German-speaking, but I don’t like being associated with two such bloggers. I don’t like it at all. As much as I hate to say it, we clearly have a problem in our German division.

What I hate to say even more is that the leadership of our German division does not appear to “get it.” Indeed, Jessica Riccò, one of the editors of ScienceBlogs Germany, showed up in the comments to complain. I was disappointed to see that she apparently does not know that Rethinking AIDS is an HIV/AIDS denialist organization. Worse, she makes arguments from authority in pointing out that Ehgartner has apparently written for mainstream German publications. Unfortunately, by that criteria, David Kirby (who’s freelanced for the New York Times) or Dan Olmsted (who, remember, used to write for UPI) would qualify as excellent ScienceBloggers. Worse, she argues that because Ehgartner has never denied that HIV causes AIDS or urged parents not to vaccinate on ScienceBlogs.de itself, it’s OK to have him there, while labeling the criticism against him a “fatuous witch hunt.” By that definition, I suppose it would be fine to have Peter Duesberg blog for ScienceBlogs too, as long as he doesn’t write about his HIV/AIDS “skepticism,” or for Mark Geier and Boyd Haley to join the collective, as long as they don’t urge parents not to vaccinate. Heck, why not invite Dr. Michael Egnor to blog about neuroscience, as long as he doesn’t mention evolution? He is a neurosurgeon, after all.

Actually, this incident also utterly demolishes Jake’s insinuation that ScienceBlogs is one big monolithic collective, all working for the same thing. I stirred up a lot of trouble in the “family” when I opened fire on Ehgartner. There was a lot of argument, sturm und drang, and drama. It was also about the science and my belief that, regardless of our other disagreements, all ScienceBloggers should be promoting good science, not pseudoscience. They should be promoting science-based medicine, not pseudoscience-based medicine.

That’s the only conspiracy I’m interested in, and I make no apologies for it.

Comments

  1. #1 Joe
    September 24, 2009

    “That’s the only conspiracy I’m interested in, and I make no apologies for it.”

    OMG ORAC ADMITTED HE’S IN ON A CONSPIRACY.

    On the subject of people bringing up your real name though – I do find it vaguely amusing that the #2 Bing result for Orac’s name is a motivational speaker who claims to have technology to eliminate stress – though the bad text suggests he might just be a non-native speaker.

  2. #2 Dianne
    September 24, 2009

    …concluding that any connection, no matter how minor, superficial, or tenuous must mean that they are all in cahoots,

    He’ll have a great future in any upcoming Bush family administrations then.

  3. #3 The Hypocrisy! It Burns!!
    September 24, 2009

    “The person who founded “Science”BasedMedicine, Steven Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale who specializes in injecting Botox, is also a Scientific Advisor to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).”

    Orac then whimpers:
    “Yes, Jake, that was pathetic when J.B. first said it, and it’s even more pathetic when you parroted it. Obviously, neither J.B. nor Jake is aware that Botox has several therapeutic uses”

    David, he did no such thing. My goodness, you are a complete idiot! All he said was that Novella injected Botox. Nothing in there about using it for cosmetic purposes, nor does he condemn Novella for injecting it. It is your own moronic attempt at painting Jake as a villian that makes that implication.

  4. #4 Jojo
    September 24, 2009

    Would it be possible to invite Jake to shadow you for a day? I’d be interested to see what his take would be on you after seeing what you really do for a living.

    I’m still giggling over the fact that anyone makes a big deal over your pseudonym. You would have to be daft not to be able figure it out based on information that is commonly mentioned here on your blog.

  5. #5 MI Dawn
    September 24, 2009

    @The Hypocrisy…you are correct. There is nothing that says Dr. Novella injects Botox for cosmetic purposes. However, the way Jake worded the sentence “specializes in injecting Botox” will lead the common reader who may not be as well educated on the therapeutic medical usages of Botox, to assume he is doing it for cosmetic purposes. That whole portion of the sentence is a non sequitur, and could have been left out if Jake only wanted to point out Dr. Novella is an adviser to the ACSH.

    Jake has so many conspiracy theories in that article that the black helicopters must have a landing pad on his lawn.

  6. #6 Todd W.
    September 24, 2009

    @Hypocrisy

    The implication of Jake’s statement is that Dr. Novella does little other than inject Botox, and that Botox is “bad”. Perhaps that was not what he intended to convey, but that is the impression that I got, as well.

    My question would be, if he meant nothing negative by it, then why did he mention it?

  7. #7 Kismet
    September 24, 2009

    Although, I’m interested in dermatology and skin aging, I’m not an expert on Botox nor FDA regulation.
    But it seems I have to disagree with your tone or actual content of the Botox paragraphs.
    I assume based on my superficial reading of the literature and other sources that:
    A. Botox is efficacious for prevention or treatment of wrinkling.
    B. The FDA approved Tretinoin and other retinoids for the treatment of photoaging and fine wrinkles, which means a therapeutic use exists.
    So if Botox does the same, and AFAIK it’s even more efficacious, the cosmetic use would be per definition therapeutic.

    However, it seems your post implies that wrinkle treatments per definition do not count as “therapeutic use” or that Botox is not approved (I believe you’d be wrong if you implied the latter, it’s approved as a ‘cosmetic treatment’ (1)) or that such use is somehow, vastly (and morally) inferior.
    I don’t think it is fair to characterise treatment of wrinkles, one of the most egregious, visible sequelae of aging as anything but therapeutic. There is certainly a tremendous psychological benefit. Although, based on the mechanism of action one could argue that tretinoin is therapeutic while botox is purely cosmetical (tretinoin shows better safety & actual histologic changes indicating slowed or reversed intrinsic aging).
    Furthermore, this opens up a slippery slope to characterise *any* treatment of aging and it’s sequelae as ‘less valuable than “real” treatments of “real” diseases’.

    I don’t think we should look down on (safe) treatments which can improve the quality of life of apparently “healthy” people. The distinction between cosmetic and therapeutic is very, very arbitrary at the border between those two.

    (1) http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049349.htm

  8. #8 Iason Ouabache
    September 24, 2009

    Maybe for part III Jakey can tell us how Science Blogs is connected to ACORN using a white board and some marker.

  9. #9 Arnold T Pants
    September 24, 2009

    @Hypocrisy

    The Botox gambit is similar me saying “Hypocrisy, who uses the Internet, a known means viewing child pornography, made the following comment…” I am of course not saying that you use the Internet to look at child pornography, but I am drawing a dishonest association, similar to the use of push-polling.

    Please don’t think that I think that cosmetic botox is some evil thing like kiddie porn, btw.

  10. #10 has
    September 24, 2009

    Perhaps Jake’s bashing of Jenny’s beloved Botox is just his way of pulling pigtails.

  11. #11 bob
    September 24, 2009

    Wow, TH!IB!!, that was a laughably weak comment. You would have been better off saying nothing in response, as Jake Crosby wisely has.

  12. #12 Kristjan Wager
    September 24, 2009

    I can’t understand the fixation on the usage of pseudonyms by the woo brigade. Unless someone is trying to hide behind it while making defamatory comments about others, or something similar, why would we care?

    And it’s not like the medicine bloggers here at ScienceBlogs make it hard to figure out who they are in real life – fat lot of difference that will make. Most of them are more famous/widely known by the pseudonym than by their real names.

    Instead of focusing on the people behind the blogging, perhaps the woo crowd should focus on the science behind the blogging? Most sciencebloggers are very good at referring the readers to the primary literature. That would be a good place to start catching up on what the science really tells us.

  13. #13 titmouse
    September 24, 2009

    Why would “specializes in injecting Botox” be the best description of Dr. Novella’s job? Neurologists do many things, not just Botox.

  14. #14 The Hypocrisy! It Burns!!
    September 24, 2009

    I find it laughable that you people would focus on the Botox comment and think it was a deliberate insult and completely ignore the rest of his comment “an assistant professor of neurology at Yale who specializes in injecting Botox” and “is also a Scientific Advisor to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).”

    You people are completely hopeless, totally wrapped up in your science=religion crap. He didn’t insult Novella; he mentioned what Novella does.

    Utterly pathetic.

  15. #15 Skeptico
    September 24, 2009

    The Hypocrisy:

    He didn’t insult Novella; he mentioned what Novella does.

    Yes, but why did he mention that one thing, among all the other things Novella undoubtedly does?

  16. #16 Skeptico
    September 24, 2009

    I wrote about this “pharma shill” nonsense over four years ago. The argument against it hasn’t changed.

    Case 1
    Just supposing I really am a paid shill for the pharma companies. I’m writing my piece because I’m paid to express those views, not because I have arrived at them by honestly examining facts and evidence. That means I’m writing my piece irrespective of the facts, and so my piece may well be factually inaccurate. If that’s true, it should be easy for my opponent to point out these inaccuracies shouldn’t it? So why don’t they? Why do they insist instead on just saying I’m a pharma industry shill? Surely what matters is if the argument I have presented is correct or not?

    Case 2
    Alternatively, suppose I’m still a pharma industry shill, and I’m still writing my piece because I’m paid to do so, but suppose that my piece just happens to coincide with the facts. My piece is factually correct, purely by accident. So what is the relevance that I am a pharma industry shill? My piece is correct regardless. Surely what matters is that the argument I have presented is correct?

    Case 3
    I’m not a paid shill for the pharma companies, and I have written my piece based on what I think is a good honest evaluation of the facts and evidence. Of course, my arguments could still be wrong – I’m only human after all. So how does anyone tell if my argument is correct? Surely they would still have to examine my arguments to see if they are correct or not?

  17. #17 bob
    September 24, 2009

    TH!IB!!, I just cannot believe that you don’t understand Orac’s point about the Botox comment. You’re being deliberately obtuse, and it’s painfully obvious. The only “utterly pathetic” thing here is that *this* foolishness is the only thing you could come up with to disparage the responses to Crosby’s claims.

  18. #18 Pablo
    September 24, 2009

    Skeptico – we also have to consider the question, does said person agree with Pharma because they are being paid? Or are they paid by Pharma because Pharma agrees with them?

    This is the Paul Offit syndrome. Big Pharma supports Paul Offit because he promotes vaccination. Yes that is true, but it is very different from saying Paul Offit promotes vaccination because he is supported by Big Pharma.

    I’ve related the story a couple times about the guy I know who went to work for a drug development company because he thought they had the best chance of “curing” the type of cancer that killed his mother, and he wanted to help do it.

    He’s now like the president of the company. Is he a pharma shill? No, he is using pharma to HIS end.

  19. #19 Vindaloo
    September 24, 2009

    bob – Sue M is not being deliberately obtuse. She’s angry at the rational world and she’s swinging wildly at anyone who doesn’t tow the Jenny McJugs line.

    Is Jake being chelated? Might that explain some of his anger? We already know he’s bought into the lie his parents have sold him. Maybe he’s willingly exposing himself to the DAN!-esque quackery and it’s exacerbating an angry streak and a complete dearth of logic.

  20. #20 Igor
    September 24, 2009

    “does said person agree with Pharma because they are being paid? Or are they paid by Pharma because Pharma agrees with them?”

    You forgot the following options Is said person paid by Pharma because they agree with them? Do all Pharma companies agree with them or just one? Are they paid by Pharma because, even though Pharma does not agree with them, they make Pharma money? etc.

    Finally: If Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Oil, and Big Business (which may incidentally be any of three) had a fight who would win?

  21. #21 Natalie
    September 24, 2009

    Sigh. I wish someone would tell Jake that continuously putting the “Science” in “ScienceBlogs” in quotation marks to denote disbelief is really fucking annoying. Seriously, get an editor.

  22. #22 Joseph C.
    September 24, 2009

    He didn’t insult Novella; he mentioned what Novella does.

    Half truths are whole lies. When you exaggerate someone’s clinical use of botox on a site that is obsessed with “toxins” this is obviously pejorative.

  23. #23 Badger3k
    September 24, 2009

    “bob – Sue M is not being deliberately obtuse. She’s angry at the rational world and she’s swinging wildly at anyone who doesn’t tow the Jenny McJugs line.”

    So Thib is Sue M (I assume this is the infamous one who has commented here for quite a while, yes?). That would explain much, then.

    Natalie – don’t “you” “know” that putting “words” in “quotes” is the new “all caps” method of posting. Either that, or this paranoid loon is that disturbed by anything that threatens his “worldview” (I can do it too!) that he has no trust in anyone (or anything). Thus the paranoid use of “”s for anything he is suspicious of, which sounds like just about everything.

  24. #24 Dedj
    September 24, 2009

    Although it’s true that Novella specialises in botulinum injections, it’s only his third listed specialism. Indeed, Novella’s primary speciality is in Neuromuscular conditions, which undoubtadly makes up the bulk of his clinical work.

    Although it’s also true that Novella is part of Yale’s Botulinum program, it’s also only one of four programs that he’s involved in, the other three of which would likely make up the bulk of his clinical work.

    To claim that Novella specialises in Botox whilst ‘somehow’ omitting his other specialisms is suspicious at best. It indicates that Jake either:

    1 Didn’t check Novella’s easy to find profile and was merely cribbing second hand from Handley,
    2 Did check Novella out properly (doubtful) and for some reason decided his Botox work was his most significant , to the point where it should be the only one mentioned.
    3 Checked Novella out properly, and deliberately decided to only mention the botox, even though that would be a sub-set of Novellas clinical work at best.

    The first option is likely, and is validated by the generally piss-poor work and logic displayed throughout the post, especially in his allegations against of Dr Offit of being self-contradictory, when the behaviour given as examples is internally, factually and logically consistent.

    The second option is also likely. Jake is not clinically or academically experienced, trained or qualified in any relevant field, so he could be making an easy laymans mistake.

    The third option indicates that Jake deliberately left out Novellas other specialisms and his involvement on other programs. At best, this conveys the impression that Novella is less skilled and relevantly qualified in regards to the whole discussion about vaccines and autism than he actually is, or at worst uses the social codex of botox to imply that Novella may be a assistant professor, but is clinically ‘only’ a cosmetic surgeon.

    At best, it’s a glaring omission which should have been caught pre-publication, at worst it’s an attempt to convey a false impression about Dr Novella.

  25. #25 Wind
    September 24, 2009

    PalMD described Jake’s writing style accurately yesterday-”…this idiot abuses scare quotes so often as to render them meaningless.” I think that sums it up well.

  26. #26 Wayward son
    September 24, 2009

    Orac – I know it is not your specialty, but you have far more knowledge than I do on this topic: some potentially interesting H1N1 results coming out of Canada this evening.

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090924/national/flu_vaccine_ontario

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090924/national/flu_vaccine_concerns_1

    Apparently saying that those who got the seasonal flu shot last year are twice as likely to contract H1N1 this year as those who did not receive last year’s vaccine. The study has not been published yet (soon), but I can’t see the possible mechanism for such a result to be possible or probable. Perhaps you can shed some light.

    Already the conspiracy nuts are festering.

  27. #27 Dedj
    September 24, 2009

    There isn’t really much that can be gathered from those links.

    That people who get seasonal flu shots are more likely to get flu than those that don’t is not really under debate. The people most likely to be eligible for flu shots are those from high risk groups.

    Generally speaking thats older persons, those with chronic conditions and those in chronic or long term care. That they would also be at increased risk of swine flu is no suprise.

    It would be of no suprise if the paper turned out to focus on something else entirely and the ’2x the risk’ was pulled out of context, possibly from a calculation that shows the risk before adjusting for cofounders.

    We shall have to wait and see.

  28. #28 passionlessdrone
    September 24, 2009

    Hi Dedj –

    One of the links above references with some specificity that the increased risk of getting swine flu following regular flu shots was not seen in the elderly.

    Perhaps this is a protective mechanism of being older, and already have being been exposed to a similar virus in the past, as opposed to changes a different effect of seasonal flu shot on the elderly. (?)

    - pD

  29. #29 yoyo
    September 24, 2009

    Re the hypocracy etc etc, orac works in a hospital that uses disinfectanctant that have been made by big pharma!!!!! Oh the noes!!!!!

    Come clean, you dont like the kid being held to account for his mud slinging, that’s ok, many of us where a little histrionic in our youth, that doesn’t mean the kid can make libellious comments without being held to them. read and grow a thicker skin.

  30. #30 deep
    September 24, 2009

    I tried commenting on Jake’s blog about the ads that are on AoA, and how it’s unfair to claim that bloggers here are pharma shills when the AoA website is funded by companies that make money off of autism and whose treatments can be dangerous (have you seen some of those ads?). Of course one of these comments was removed, and the other has yet to been approved (it’s been over 11 hours I think…so there still might be time).
    It’s just funny since on scienceblogs I can be “FUCK KAPIDEX IT’S EVIL AND KILLING BABIES!!!”.

    Disclaimer: I picked a random ad, I have no idea what Kapidex does and I’m too lazy to scroll all the way back to the top. Now that I’m just as ignorant about it as the AoA people are about vaccines I think I’ll add “KAPIDEX IS COMMUNIST AND ANTI-AMERICAN AND WHY DO YOU HATE CHILDREN ORAC?!?!?”.

    It takes a lot of teeth-clenching for me to type in all caps.

  31. #31 adina
    September 25, 2009

    One of the things that I’ve learned from working with people who have significant delusions is to give people space to back out of their previous statements, without having to say they were wrong. In other words, I might say “I remember you were thinking that perhaps Satan was speaking to you through the television, but you didn’t seem so sure at the time. It’s also possible I misunderstood exactly what you were saying.” People need a way to hold on to their pride.

    So I’m not sure what to do with this kid. The more we answer back, the more invested he is in the “duel”, and the more he may feel that he needs to defend his stance, rather than simply become quietly convinced and move on. This kid seems intelligent, so I think it’s a shame that he’s latched on to a movement with no rational foundation. I just don’t know the best way to deal with the situation. All I can say is that if he backs out now in his youth (or ever!) from this anti-science path, no one but some conspiracy theorists will disrespect him for the switch.

    College is all about hearing varied ideas, learning recognize logical arguments and rhetorical fallacies, and, in an ideal world, expounding on the scientific method and how to appropriately interpret scientific or statistical findings. This kid has a lot of potential, and I hope he will use it by taking biostatistics, epidemiology, and perhaps even symbolic logic classes, which may go some way toward helping him realize why the anti-vax arguments are so woefully mistaken.

  32. #32 DLC
    September 25, 2009

    THIB = Obvious Troll is Obvious.

    The only reason to mention that Dr Novella uses botox is to associate him with the cosmetic practice of botox injections and thus minimize the fact that he’s a professor of neurology at a fairly prestigious school. I’ll leave it to the “Intrepid” “Investigators”(see, I can use scare quotes too!)
    at AoA to figure out exactly which prestigious school.
    But, I’ll give them a lead, so they can have me as an unnamed source. http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?page_id=2

  33. #33 Robin Levett
    September 25, 2009

    @pD #28:

    One of the links above references with some specificity that the increased risk of getting swine flu following regular flu shots was not seen in the elderly.

    Hasn’t it been established that swine flu seems preferentially to “go for” the adult non-elderly? In which case, the question is not whether the elderly are excluded from the figures, but whether high-risk non-elderly adults are excluded from the figures.

  34. #34 Seth Kalichman
    September 25, 2009

    This is how bad it has gotten.
    Blogging about blogs that claim Blogging Conspiracies.
    Pseudoscience and denialism propagated online is out of control. The Internet has linked the cranks – and it is just not a good situation. In some cases we see shared or group delusions. In other cases we see multiple delusions within the same person, such as vaccine hysteria and AIDS denial. Unfortunately, the problem is getting worse and there is no end in sight.
    Seth Kalichman
    http://denyingaids.blogspot.com

  35. #35 passionlessdrone
    September 25, 2009

    Hi Robin Levin –

    Hasn’t it been established that swine flu seems preferentially to “go for” the adult non-elderly?

    I also believe this is the case; I think that the believed reason for this was previous exposure to a very similiar strain of flu. This is where I was trying to go with my post.

    In which case, the question is not whether the elderly are excluded from the figures, but whether high-risk non-elderly adults are excluded from the figures.

    If I understand you correctly, we are in agreement. However, the high risk, non elderly adults probably don’t make up too large a block of the seasonal flu recipients; even if all of them get it, the elderly is still a big block of the people who get regular flu shot. Given that, it doesn’t seem likely our numbers will budge much by the effect of high risk, non elderly adults. (?)

    - pD

  36. #36 Socrates
    September 25, 2009

    This is much like watching a tiger attack a moth…

    (Jake wandered over to The New Republic via some research/Google-Searches to attempt a hatchet job on me (Why? Scraping the bottom of the Z-Listers barrel?) He’s never tangled with a embittered tabloid hack before… We’re a lot less polite than Orac… Jake’s not been back since.)

  37. #37 Ned
    September 26, 2009

    Back in the mid 80s – before the Internet rendered them unnecessary – there used to be set of specialized TV programs for medical professionals: Medsat, Surgsat, Cardiosat, etc. You could pick them up if you had a satellite dish, or alternately, they sometimes showed in the wee hours of the morning on high-numbered UHF channels.

    Often as not these shows were pretty interesting, but one of the most entertaining I managed to see was one showing the use of botulism toxin to treat an exceptionally severe case of unilateral strabismus – one crossed eye. The patient in question – a young girl – had one normal eye and the other so badly out of kilter you couldn’t see the pupil at all. After being injected with botulism toxin (the idea being to weaken the stronger muscle to match the weaker), the eye went to the opposite extreme. Then, in a serious of time lapse photos, it slowly slid back, finally snapping into normal alignment. Pretty cool to see, actually.

  38. #38 Dedj
    September 26, 2009

    “One of the links above references with some specificity that the increased risk of getting swine flu following regular flu shots was not seen in the elderly.”

    Thank you, I missed this first time around.

    I think if the facts mentioned during the discussion in this thread are true (that the highest age-risk group is the non-elderly adult), the 2x risk may be due to belonging to a high-risk age-group and a high-risk condition-group (who may have subsequently been vaccinated where there age-peers weren’t), rather than from any risk that arises from the flu-vaccine.

    However, that may be me justifying my cynicism. We shall have to wait for the article to be published.

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