Mike Adams is confused.

I know, I know. Such a statement is akin to saying that water is wet (and that it doesn’t have memory, at least not the mystical magical memories ascribed to it by homeopaths), that the sun rises in the East, or that writing an NIH R01 grant is hard, but there you go. Speaking of writing an NIH R01, that’s exactly what I’m doing now, hence the decreased blogorrhea over the last few days, but sometimes trying to cram a five year project into the 13 pages (one page for specific aims and twelve to describe the project) makes my head hurt so much that reading and responding to Mike Adams’ idiocy actually looks somewhat pleasurable for a diversion.

I know, I know. I’m a glutton for punishment, but Adams wrote something that was so spectacularly idiotic even for him, that I fear it may rend the fabric of the space-time continuum. You’ll see why in a minute. At best, in this post, Adams can be best described as a pyromaniac in a field of straw man. Alternatively, one could envision his post as a black hole made up of such a huge mass of straw men that it collapsed down upon itself. Or maybe it was simply the black hole of woo that is Mike Adams drawing all the straw in the universe into itself, adding to its size and increasing its event horizon, the better for it to suck the intelligence out of the universe.

Yes, Adams’ latest is just that bad, so bad that I had to mix metaphors.

As you may recall, over the weekend, there was a hilarious blowup regarding the Shorty Awards, basically awards for Twittering. Mike Adams was in the lead for the Health Category, but then it was pointed out that a large percentage of his votes were coming from brand new Twitter accounts with only one Tweet. Clearly, they were accounts created for one purpose: To vote for Mike Adams. Such voting tactics are clearly against the rules for the Shorty Awards; and the powers that be behind those awards decided to boot Adams from the competition. Personally, I’m not sure that that wasn’t overreacting, as it’s not clear that these accounts were created at Adams’ behest. It probably would have been better simply to invalidate all the illegal votes. Be that as it may, Adams went full mental jacket upon learning of this, claiming huge and dark conspiracies on the part of big pharma, vaccine manufacturers, and the government to “silence” him, all the while pouting that the awards “weren’t important” but belying his dismissal of the Shorty Awards’ importance by simultaneously threatening to sue its organizers. Truly, it was comedy gold!

But Adams wasn’t satisfied with causing supporters of science-based medicine a huge chuckle. Oh, no. Adams is about nothing if not massive woo overkill. So, in response to his humiliation in the Shorty Awards, he decided to channel Deepak Chopra’s misunderstanding of the nature of skepticism and skeptics and turning it up to 11 and beyond. Indeed, “pyromaniac in a field of straw men” doesn’t even begin to describe the idiocy of Mike Adams’ response to skeptics, entitled What ‘skeptics’ really believe about vaccines, medicine, consciousness and the universe. It’s also the purest distillation of the principle of crank magnetism that I’ve seen in a very long time–maybe ever. Truly, calling it even a black hole of stupidity is inadequate; maybe it’s an alternate parallel universe made up of nothing but stupid. I don’t know. Feel free to weigh in…after my deconstruction.

Mike begins with a woo-ful whine:

In the world of medicine, “skeptics” claim to be the sole protectors of intellectual truth. Everyone who disagrees with them is just a quack, they insist. Briefly stated, “skeptics” are in favor of vaccines, mammograms, pharmaceuticals and chemotherapy. They are opponents of nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, chiropractic care, massage therapy, energy medicine, homeopathy, prayer and therapeutic touch.

Strawman #1 (of more than I care to count): That skeptics claim to be the “sole protectors” of intellectual truth. I’d love to see Adams show a statement anywhere from a skeptic claiming that skeptics are the only protectors of intellectual truth. All we claim is that science is the best way to determine what does and does not work, and we do not accept claims without evidence to support them. In other words, we are the polar opposites of Mike Adams, which is why he doesn’t understand us. Adams is correct, though, in that most skeptics are indeed in favor of vaccines, mammograms, pharmaceuticals and chemotherapy. We are in favor of such things because we support science-based medicine, and science tells us that these things do work and delineates the situations when they work and do not work. It is also true that most of us do not support supplements, herbal medicine, chiropractic (other than for aspects of it that resemble physical therapy), energy medicine, homeopathy, intercessory prayer, and therapeutic touch. (Note that Adams would be hard-pressed to find a skeptic who has a problem with massage therapy, except when it is infused with woo, which, unfortunately, a lot of massage therapy is.) The reason is, of course, because science does not support these modalities.

Adams also seems very unhappy with the observation that many skeptics are agnostics or atheists, ranting:

But there’s much more that you need to know about “skeptics.” As you’ll see below, they themselves admit they have no consciousness and that there is no such thing as a soul, a spirit or a higher power. There is no life after death. In fact, there’s not much life in life when you’re a skeptic.

I thought it would be interesting to find out exactly what “skeptics” actually believe, so I did a little research and pulled this information from various “skeptic” websites. What I found will make you crack up laughing so hard that your abs will be sore for a week. Take a look…

Well, I suppose we skeptics are just returning the favor. Many are the articles on NaturalNews.com that left me laughing so hard at Adams’ ignorance, paranoia, and conspiracy theories that I should sue Adams for funds to pay for some NSAIDs to treat my aching chest wall and abdominal muscles. Maybe they’d throw in some chiropractic adjustments as well, as I fear that Adams’ hilarious woo induced subluxations of each and every one of my thoracic vertebrae. It would be very interesting to know which skeptical websites and blogs Adams actually visited. If you have a skeptical website or blog, you should look for some accesses from Ecuador, which, if I recall correctly, is where Mike Adams currently resides. Maybe you were graced with a visit from the Woo-meister-in-Chief himself! Sadly, I couldn’t find any such visits in my logs, but I only use the free version of Sitemeter; so only the last 100 visits are logged.

The sheer number of straw men to which Adams takes a flamethower (I know, I know, I can’t make up my mind which metaphor I want to use) is so huge that it would be a colossal undertaking to respond to them all. Therefore, I’m going to pick and choose–dare I say, cherrypick–the ones that amused or enraged me the most. Others may be disappointed that I left their favorite ones out. Fear not! That’s what the comments are for. Feel free to respond in the comments to any or all of this collection of misrepresentations and woo.

Let’s get started. Adams divides his “commentary” into sections, starting out with “What Skeptics Really Believe.” The very first one made me laugh out loud:

Skeptics believe that ALL vaccines are safe and effective (even if they’ve never been tested), that ALL people should be vaccinated, even against their will, and that there is NO LIMIT to the number of vaccines a person can be safely given. So injecting all children with, for example, 900 vaccines all at the same time is believed to be perfectly safe and “good for your health.”

Is there a more outrageous misrepresentation of the views of practitioners of science-based medicine that you can imagine? If it were true that skeptics believe that “all vaccines” are safe and effective, then why is there so much debate over which vaccines should be in the childhood immunization schedule? Why do we have a VAERS database and VSD to look out for adverse reactions to vaccines? In actuality, Adams completely misunderstands that what is being argued is not that “all” vaccines are safe and effective; rather we argue that the current pediatric vaccination schedule is safe in that the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the tiny risks that come from vaccination. The same is true for flu vaccination. As for Gardasil, there is quite a bit of controversy, but it’s not so much over whether the vaccine is safe. It is. Rather, it’s more about whether it should be part of the routine pediatric vaccination schedule. As for the utter idiocy of Adams’ “no limit” nonsense, he’s mischaracterizing an example that Paul Offit made that the human body is capable of responding to the antigens from thousands of vaccines at a time; he was not advocating giving hundreds of vaccines at a time.

Which brings us to this gem:

Skeptics believe that the human body has no ability to defend itself against invading microorganism and that the only things that can save people from viral infections are vaccines.

I’d really love to see Adams provide evidence that “skeptics” believe that the body has “no ability to defend itself.” The truly hilarious thing about this bit is that Adams is too clueless to realize that the very principle upon which vaccines work depends upon the body’s ability to defend itself from invading microorganisms. They don’t work (or don’t work as well) in patients who are immunosuppressed, whose immune systems don’t work, for whatever reason. Truly, the cluelessness of Mike Adams knows no bounds.

Skeptics believe that all healing happens from the outside, from doctors and technical interventions. They do not believe that patients have any ability to heal themselves. Thus, they do not ascribe any responsibility for health to patients. Rather, they believe that doctors and technicians are responsible for your health. Anyone who dismisses doctors and takes charge of their own health is therefore acting “irresponsibly,” they claim.

No, they do not. Note how Adams conflates “taking charge of one’s own health” with using the forms of quackery that he likes. Nor do they believe that “all healing happens from the outside.” Geez, Adams doesn’t know many surgeons, does he? Our very profession depends upon the body’s ability to heal. We routinely make big incisions in the body and count on the body’s ability to heal the temporary injury resulting from our ministrations. As for “not ascribing any responsibility to patients,” that’s utter nonsense. The sad thing is that Adams probably really does believe this.

I like this one too:

Skeptics believe that Mother Nature is incapable of synthesizing medicines. Only drug companies can synthesize medicines, they claim. (So why do they copy molecules from nature, then?)

Nonsense again. Many science-based medicines are derived from natural products, either extracted from plants or other organisms or extracted and chemically modified. It’s amazing to consider: Taxol (derived from the bark of the Pacific Yew), digoxin (foxglove plant); Vinca alkaloids (derived from Catharanthus roseus, a.k.a. periwinkle plant); and camptothecin, irinotecan, topotecan (derived from Camptotheca acuminata, a.k.a. Happy tree). There are many other examples, as well. Indeed, whole divisions of pharmaceutical companies are devoted to screening natural compounds for pharmacologica activity, and the NIH has a huge investment in biodiversity initiatives and similarly identifying natural products that might have value in human disease. In other words, Mike Adams is so wrong that he’s not even wrong.

As usual, as he is with this:

Skeptics believe that you can take unlimited pharmaceuticals, be injected with an unlimited number of vaccines, expose yourself to unlimited medical imaging radiation, consume an unlimited quantity of chemicals in processed foods and expose yourself to an unlimited quantity of environmental chemical toxins with absolutely no health effects whatsoever!

Huh? I challenge Mike Adams right here, right now, to provide a link or links to a skeptical website or blog that says anything of the sort! Certainly, this isn’t such a blog. Indeed, just recently, I wrote about the dangers of too much radiation from medical imaging. I’ve expressed skepticism about various science-based medical modalities for which I consider the evidence to be lacking, such as vertebroplasty. Skepticism means skepticism, not just towards “alternative” medicine but to all medical claims. Those that can stand up to scientific scrutiny become medicine; those that can’t end up on Mike Adams’ website to reside with other gems of woo like this:

Skeptics believe that DEAD foods have exactly the same nutritional properties as LIVING foods (hilarious!).

I love the primitive vitalism that permeates Mike Adams’ beliefs. After all, unless we eat our vegetables right off of the vine or rip the beating hearts out of our enemies and eat them before they stop beating, our food is “dead.”

Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead!

Meat is dead. Vegetables and fruit, unless they were just harvested, are dead, and certainly both meat and vegetables are dead by the time we’ve chewed them and send them into the acid baths that reside in our stomachs. Truly, Adams’ statement is hilarious, just not in the way he thinks it is, just as his belief that skeptics are not “skeptical” about everything:

  • Skeptics aren’t skeptical about the corruption and dishonesty in the pharmaceutical industry. They believe whatever the drug companies say, without asking a single intelligent question.
  • Skeptics aren’t skeptical about medical journals. They believe whatever they read in those journals, even when much of it turns out to be complete science fraud.
  • Skeptics aren’t skeptical about the profit motive of the pharmaceutical industry. They believe that drug companies are motivated by goodwill, not by profits.
  • Skeptics aren’t skeptical about the motivations and loyalties of the FDA. They will swallow, inject or use any product that’s FDA approved, without a single reasonable thought about the actual safety of those products.
  • Skeptics aren’t skeptical about the safety of synthetic chemicals used in the food supply. They just swallow whatever poisons the food companies dump into the foods.
  • Skeptics aren’t skeptical about the enormous dangers of ionizing radiation from mammograms and CT scans. They have somehow convinced themselves that “early detection saves live” when, in reality, “early radiation causes cancer.”

Hmmm. I’m puzzled. Right here, at least, I’ve expressed skepticism about nearly of these things, including pharmaceutical company seeding trials, pharmaceutical company chicanery with respect to medical journals, and misconduct from medical journals themselves. Also, I’ve written extensively about mammography and the problems with mammographic screening, including overdiagnosis, the risk of breast cancer due to radiation, how screening mammography doesn’t reduce deaths from breast cancer as much as many think, and how mammographic screening guidelines have changed. Does Mike Adams not pay attention to such things? Again, skepticism does not differentiate between “conventional” and “alternative” medicine. As the old joke goes: What do you call alternative medicine that has been scientifically shown to work?


Personally, I see this as a massive case of projection on Mike Adams’ part and would rephrase a couple of them:

  • Mike Adams is not skeptical about the corruption and dishonesty in the supplement industry. He believes whatever supplement manufacturers claim, without asking a single intelligent question.
  • Mike Adams isn’t skeptical about the profit motive of the the supplement industry, much of which is being bought up by pharmaceutical companies. He believes that supplement companies are motivated by goodwill, not by profits.

Translating others is left as an exercise for the reader, although if you really want to see just how uncritical Adams is, check this out:

Skeptics aren’t skeptical about the demolition-style collapse of the World Trade Center 7 building on September 11, 2001 — a building that was never hit by airplanes. This beautifully-orchestrated collapse of a hardened structure could only have been accomplished with precision explosives. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwSc7NPn8Ok) Astonishingly, “skeptics” have little understanding of the laws of physics. Concrete-and-steel buildings don’t magically collapse in a perfect vertical demolition just because of a fire on one floor…

Truly, this is crank magnetism at its finest! Who’d have thought it? Mike Adams is a 9/11 Truther! If you really don’t need much more than this to know that Adams has zero credibility when it comes to critical thinking! After all, he still buys into one of the myths of the 9/11 “Truth” movement, namely that WTC 7 couldn’t possibly have collapsed from the damage due to the collapse of the other buildings, a point that’s been debunked time and time again, in particular in detail by Popular Mechanics. Specifically, not only was WTC 7 was more heavily damaged than initially thought but its design was unusual in that its floors held more load than most buildings. It turns out that removing the structural support of even one column could lead to collapse. Combine the fires that rages out of control with the structural damage from falling debris, and it’s not surprising that WTC 7 collapsed several hours later. It’s hard to believe that anyone believes the WTC 7 myth anymore, but Mike Adams does.

But, hey, that’s just me. What do I know? According to Adams, I’m this:

Skeptics don’t believe in a higher power of any kind: No God, no spirit, no angels, no guides, no creative force in the universe… nada. They think the universe is a cold, empty, lonely, stupid place full of soulless, mindless, zombie biological bodies who have no free will and no consciousness.

Gee, no wonder these skeptics are so misguided. They have the most pessimistic view possible. No wonder they seek to destroy themselves with chemicals — they don’t even think they’re alive to begin with! Skeptics are bent on self destruction. And they believe that when you die, the lights just go out and you cease to exist. Nothing happens after that. You’re just a mindless biological robot whose life has no meaning, no purpose, no higher self.

The only thing not alive in Mike Adams’ little rant are his brain cells. I gave up counting the straw men after the “cold, empty, lonely, stupid place” bit.

Skeptics don’t think they’re alive? Of course they do! Moreover, Adams is conflating skepticism with a nihilistic form of atheism that even the most vocal and–dare I say?–militant atheists I know don’t advocate. In fact, I can’t recall any of them claiming any such thing or stating the universe is a “stupid place” full of zombie biological bodies with no free will and no consciousness! Do you know a person who thinks that way? Maybe such people exist (although I sincerely doubt it), but they aren’t the people who are prominent in the skeptical movement. As for “no consciousness,” I think that describes Adams as well. The argument is not over whether consciousness exists; the argument is dualism (the concept that consciousness derives from something other than the brain) versus the idea that consciousness derives from a biological source; i.e., the brain itself. Recent research in neuroscience definitely points towards the latter explanation of consciousness rather than the former, no matter how little Adams likes it.

But the pièce de résistance is yet to come in the conclusion, where Adams tries to dehumanize skeptics:

Realizing this, it makes it so much easier to debate with skeptics on any topic. Whatever they say, you just answer, “WHO is saying that? Are YOU, a conscious, free-thinking person with a mind and soul saying that, or are those words simply being automatically and robotically uttered from the mouth of a bag of bones and skin that has no mind and no soul?”

If they answer you honestly, they will have to admit that they believe they are nothing more than a robotic bag of bones and skin that is mindlessly uttering whatever nonsense happens to escape their mechanical lips. At that point, you’ve already won the debate because YOU have a soul, and THEY don’t. You’re arguing with a mindless robot.

Seriously. Think about this deeply. If you believe what the skeptics want you to believe (because they are always right, of course), then you must accept the fact that THEY have no consciousness. They are not really “alive.” They are just robotic biological machines. They are drones, in other words. And drones are not equal to a being of energy with a consciousness and a soul, inhabiting a human body with purpose and awareness.

Never argue with drones. You only waste your time and annoy the drone.

Skeptics… zombies… drones… different words for the same thing. Soulless, mindless, lacking consciousness and free will, having no awareness of the value of life… these are the skeptics arguing for vaccines, mammograms and chemotherapy today. They are agents of death who can only find solace in an industry of death — the industry of modern medicine.

And there, my friends, you have the black hole of burning stupid incinerating universes of straw men! (I know, I know, I’m mixing metaphors again. Just go with me on this; I’m on a roll.)

Seriously. Does dehumanization get any more blatant than this? Note how Adams turns the skeptic into the “other,” an inhuman soulless automaton. Not believing in God or the existence of a soul does not demand that a belief that human beings are automatons, nor does believing in a biological basis of behavior, rather than a dualistic mechanism, to the point of doubting the existence of truly free will necessarily imply that humans are mindless and have no awareness of the meaning of life. None of this means that skeptics are “seeking death” because their lives have no meaning. The sheer number and volume of straw men here threaten to fill the known universe.

It’s hard to know if Mike Adams truly believes the sheer volume of nonsense that he is laying down. Whatever the true case, there is no doubt that he is a master of making stuff up as he sees fit. At one point, he says that he is “not going to list those websites here because they don’t deserve the search engine rankings, but you can find them yourself through Google, if you wish.” So obviously intellectually lazy is this approach that even his acolytes criticized him for it, saying, “This article would have been 100% more effective and informative if after each notation, there would have been examples, names, etc. to give the statement more crediblity, convincing, more impressive.”

No it wouldn’t, because I’m quite sure that any examples that Adams might pick would actually not support his characterization of them. That’s because, like Deepak Chopra’s parody of skepticism as unrelenting negative cynicism, Mike Adams’ parody is not based on reality. It is based on his projection of his credulity and paranoid distrust of science onto skeptics in order to portray them as mindless, credulous automatons who believe anything that fits within their world view and reject in a knee-jerk fashion anything that does not.

Funny, but Mike Adams’ concept of a skeptic sounds a lot like Mike Adams himself. Or maybe it’s not so funny. Scratch that. There’s no “maybe” about it. Mike Adams’ promotion of pure quackery is not funny at all, no matter how hilarious his rants against skeptics may be. He promotes quackery that can result in people foregoing effective care.

People can die when that happens.

ADDENDUM: Mike Adams continues the stupidity. It’s late; I’m too tired to take it all on:


If there is one inexhaustible resource, it is Mike Adams’ ignorance.


  1. #1 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 28, 2010

    So this is Mary “explaining” why she is entitled to ignore the fact that all the studies which have been done looking for a vaccine-autism connection have found none:

    “My bitch is that the science produced by good scientific studies will not be accepted by “scientists” if it conflicts with their economic and financial objectives.”

    And here’s Mary just eight hours later, defending the Geiers, whose experimentation on human beings was supposed to be overseen by an impartial IRB but instead was rubber-stamped by an “IRB” of which each and every member stood to benefit financially from giving the Geiers’ work a facade of respectability:

    “… the bureaucratic oversight of IRB’s is irrelevant to the subject of bias in research studies. The system was setup by the medical profession and the government in order to control the conduct of research, not to produce honest studies. Whether the study of the Geiers’ is unbiased is a separate issue and could be determined by looking at it’s conduct from initial assumptions, hpothoses, to data, methodology, analysis and conclusions. The presence of family members alone should not determine it’s validity.”

    My, my, my… is that a little old double standard peekin’ its nose out of the bushes? Why, I do believe it is! It’s the exact same issue, scientific truth being subordinated ‘economic and financial objectives’ — but where Mary is convicting of this offense any scientist past, present, or future who does not find a vaccine-autism connection, all without a shred of evidence against those scientists, she’s going to lengths to ignore the evidence of the Geiers committing that very offense!

    Just another reason, as if we needed any more, to disregard Mary.

  2. #2 Chris
    January 28, 2010

    Antaeus Felspar:

    Just another reason, as if we needed any more, to disregard Mary.

    She will most likely defend the recently sanctioned Wakefield’s invasive lawyer paid tests on a dozen children (including one whose colon was punctured several times!), because in her world he was doing “good science” (even if it was only to feed his ego and bank account).

    In the future, please respond to Mary with just these five words: Put up or shut up!

    Thank you.

  3. #3 MI Dawn
    January 29, 2010

    @ Chris (202): Hear, Hear! At this point, that’s all I am looking for Mary to do, too. (And wanna bet, it ain’t happening?)

  4. #4 Todd W.
    January 29, 2010

    @Antaeus Feldspar

    Let’s not forget that in addition to the unethical makeup of the Geiers’ IRB, it was also formed after the study was already under way. Another ethical no-no.

  5. #5 qbsmd
    January 30, 2010

    “unless we … rip the beating hearts out of our enemies and eat them before they stop beating, our food is “dead.”

    Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorence on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon… you know, cause I tell you, people do that all the time.

  6. #6 Kristen
    January 30, 2010

    Dear lord! I am gone for three days and I miss all this fun.

    Just had something additional for Mary:

    1) Were any of these studies of vaccinated vs. never vaccinated individuals?

    Are you suggesting studying the children who are not being vaccinated because their parents are listening to the anti-vax idiots? Should these children be studied and compared to the children who are properly vaccinated?

    Although I am definitly not an expert on the matter my understanding is:

    This wouldn’t work. Because the two groups studied are not chosen randomly. The parents who tend to not vaccinate are middle class to wealthy caucasion people, these children would be compared to children who are not equally matched in socioeconomic status and access to health care. Or do you not care if the poor and minority groups are not represented (in the non-vaccinated group) in your hypothetical study? Or would you suggest that some of these minority children be denied vaccination because of your inane theories?

  7. #7 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 30, 2010

    “unless we … rip the beating hearts out of our enemies and eat them before they stop beating, our food is “dead.”

    Sounds like my divorce…

  8. #8 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    January 30, 2010

    This wonderful and wondrously long discussion has brilliantly displayed the power and the weakness of the Internet. Mary has come here, defending her (factually indefensible) position. She has been demolished repeatedly, she has ducked every challenge to actually back up her statements, her (two — people missed the first one) “Rothschild” comments certainly showed the possibility of her bigotry. The whole discussion became much more powerful as Mary vainly — in both senses — put forth her case and it was shown just how weak it was.

    But there was thing that was lacking, sadly, the same thing that was lacking in the well over 10,000 comments on the Prop H8 Trial tracker site — where I ran into several familiar faces. Okay, I only read about half of them, but neither there nor here did I read a comment that went something like this:

    “Hey, guys, I used to be sorta on the fence about vaccination (or same-sex marriage). I mean I’m not an expert or anything, but I’d heard the arguments that people like Mary put forth, and they sounded kinda reasonable, so I was being cautious, keeping an open mind. But you guys have really convinced me, and I’ve come over fully to your side.”

    I never read comments like this. Maybe there are lurkers out there who do get their minds changed — ideally from anti- to pro- but I’d settle for neutral to pro. If so, will at least one of you tell us so.

    Because I am getting scared — and getting a reputation as a ‘dotty old man whose getting paranoid anout paranoids’ — that we are spending so much time ‘convincing people who were already convinced’ that all our skeptical writing is in reality doing no good at all. We are making each other feel good, we are making very valuable points, but we seem to be staying in a niche of our own, and making no difference in an outside world where the forces of anti-vaxxers, global warming denialists, ‘Christian nation’ arguers, birthers, End Time preachers, ‘comuunist-fascist dictator Obama’ declarers and others are busy swapping paranoias like I used to swap baseball cards.

    (Yes, there are quite a few HuffPost anti-vaxxers — and I condemn them for their stupidity, but they might be reachable by this sort of discussion — but take a look at someone like Jane Burgermeister — or Janet Folger Porter of Faith2Action who has had Burgermeister on her show. Or the WND. These are the real crazies out there, the ones evidence can’t touch, the ones who combine all the evidence-free rantings.

    (And of course there is the ‘rodeo clown’ filling his tv slot with much of the same.)

    Sadly, they are reaching the uncommitted (I’m tempted to call them the ones who are and need to be committed). It’s easy to dismiss them as ‘just a handful of nuts’ and a couple of years ago they were. But now they are getting stronger, taking over one party, and I’m damned if I know what to do about it.

    So will someone out there please calm me down and just tell me, honestly, that all our rationality and solid ecidence-based reasoning, our demonstrations of the absurdity of people like Mary and Mike Adams actually worked? Please!

  9. #9 Chris
    January 30, 2010

    Prup, once in a long while I will see someone posting who had first been sucked into not vaccinating (often a new parent who has wandered into the sMothering Commune forum), but then they come here and elsewhere and actually change their mind.

    Also, I know at least one blogger (Kev at LeftBrainRightBrain) who at first blamed a vaccine for his daughter’s autism. But with additional information he changed his mind.

  10. #10 Johnny
    January 30, 2010

    Prup –

    I didn’t go from anti to pro vax, or even neutral to pro. I know they work. But, with all the ink the antivaxers get, I wanted to *know*.

    My background isn’t in medicine, I don’t work in health care in any way. Y’all break these ideas down and make things clear enough that I’m able to understand. From the links and words posted here, I can now spot a quack, and even say *why* they’re a quack.

    With what I’ve learned here, I’ve even been able to help guide a few fence-sitters I know away from the dark side. It ripples out.

  11. #11 DT35
    January 30, 2010

    The person who posts as NotMercury recounted that s/he was convinced vaccines caused her older children’s autism until his/her youngest (unvaccinated) child was diagnosed, though I guess that’s more a victory for simple rationality than for sceptical blogging. James Sweet has said that he was amenable to spacing out immunization to prevent autism or some nebulous other harm, until he researched the issue, whereupon he became strongly pro-vax.

    for sceptical blogging

  12. #12 Kristen
    January 30, 2010


    I used to be all into the anti-mainstream medicine. I never was anti-vaccine because my mother lost (most) of her hearing when she contracted mumps. But I did have my third-born at home after two c-sections. I was all into ‘natural’ supplements and alternative medicine (being from Colorado, this was the norm).

    When I moved to [redacted] I asked my pediatrician about ‘mercury’ in vaccines and all the other woo I believed in. He just happened to be a skeptic and gave me all sorts of information that just made sense. So much so that I decided to deliver my fourth child in a hospital (by c-section, no less).

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a skeptic, because I am just learning, but I admire the author of this blog and so many others that are fighting for rationality.

  13. #13 Jennifer B. Phillips
    January 30, 2010

    Prup, Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy posted a link to just such a story only days ago. Hope it will lift your spirits 😉


  14. #14 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    January 30, 2010

    Thanks to all of you for giving these examples. And I know that Orac knows I meant no disrespect to him — his was literally the first blog I read, and I have never stopped admiring his work. It’s just the tide of irrationality I see growing daily. mostly in the political world, and the misunderstanding of the type of thinking that ties a Palin to a Mike Adams, teabaggers to global warming denialists, creationists to the type of health care reform fighters that talk about FEMA concentration camps. All so led by the Glenn Becks, the Farahs and the Folgers. but also by the ministers of a new and very scary type of Christianity that calls itself the New Apostolic Reformation, and that has very little to do with what most of us think of as Christianity — whether we like it or hate it or simply consider it a mild delusion.

    When I see a candidate for Governor — of Alabama, true, but not some ‘backwoods hick,’ but a man whose family has been prominent in the state since before statehood. who’s been a lawyer for 25 years, who was in charge of the state’s two-year college system — merely state that ‘not all the words of the Bible are to be taken literally’ (nd he was referring to the great ages of the Patriarchs, not the myths of the opening of Genesis) — and be forced to recant his words, I get scared. When I see not just one, but all of the candidates for President of a major party approve the teaching of creationism in schools (as happened in 2008, though only a few declared themselves to be creationists), I get visions of Nehemiah Scudder.

    And when I see political commenters on ‘my’ side of the spectrum — and I spend more time in the political blogosphere — regretably — than in the Skeptisphere dismissing these folks as ‘too absurd to pay attention to’ or see their real — if delusional — beliefs as either ‘fronts for racism’ or the result (from the dinestore Marxists) of corporate manipulation, or refer to the ‘obscenely rich puppeteers, I want to drag every one of them over to the Skeptical blogosphere to give them lessons in the type of thinking they are fighting against.

    And then I think of the Scopes trial, and how, despite every showing of Inherit the Wind the result was, in fact victory for the creationists, if a mild one. (Other laws against evolution teaching remained in place and, to quote a very solid Wikipedia article — that is supported by other cites I know “The immediate effects of the trial are evident in the high school biology texts used in the second half of the 1920’s and the early 1930’s. Of the most widely used textbooks, there is only one which lists evolution in the index and in the wake of the trial, under the pressures of fundamentalist groups, the entry is countered with biblical quotations.”

    And I see, after growing up in a time and place where creationism was laughable, today that polls still show a near majority of America supporting it. My GP (80 years old and no altie) tells me of a friend who is “Professor of Alternate Medicine” at Harvard.

    And that’s when I wonder if even we know how to fight the tide of irrationality, when I become ‘paranoid about paranoids’ when I write the type of comment I wrote above. And when I need and am grateful for the responses it received.

  15. #15 Spacewyrm
    January 31, 2010


    I can at least tell you this: I used to be on the fence about creationism (though I leaned heavily towards it due to my Christian upbringing). I also used to beleive in UFOs being alien spacecraft, alien abductions, and I was very sympathetic to various paranormal claims. I was convinced of most conspiracy theories involving the JFK assassination and also convinced of all sorts of “ancient astronaut” stories. I also had a tendency to believe certain things about health that sound now eerily similar to the alternative medicine quackery that Orac debunks here regularly (though I was sort of indifferent to that, being an ‘invincible’ teenager who cared little for my well-being).

    I liked to think that I was one of the few rational voices in the world and that so many of the scientists and other people were not quite as imaginative as they should be, blinded by the institutional learning they went through (or something along those lines).

    Now, in college I had begun to move away from such beliefs. However, I still liked to believe in paranormal claims, in creationism, etc. But, one day, after watching a show on moon-landing conspiracy theories, I went to google to find out more. I found Phil Plait’s “Bad Astronomy” site. And from a link there, I found Orac’s old blogspot blog. For a couple years, I read this blog daily. And I also began reading other skeptical blogs regularly.

    Well, this is just anecdotal evidence, so make of it what you will, but for me, the skeptics on the internet have really changed my life for the better. I have become a much more consistent critical thinker since that time, and have been turned away from all sorts of crackpottery, woo, crankdom, and more that I may have been attracted to were it not for the wonderful bloggers/commenters who introduced me to a skepticism as something more than the pejorative hurled by UFO nuts and psychics. So here’s at least one person who’s changed her mind, and would probably otherwise be a 9/11 truther today.

  16. #16 Borg
    May 3, 2011


    (Sorry, but I just couldn’t believe that someone didn’t do that one straight away.)

    I can’t believe (figure of speech) that I’ve never seen this site before. Keep up the great work!

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