Respectful Insolence

A first: A cease and desist Tweet

Remember Doctors Data? It’s the highly dubious medical laboratory that Trine Tsouderos exposed in her series on the quackery that is the “autism biomed” movement. A couple of weeks ago, Doctors Data also decided to launch what appears to be frivolous lawsuit against the creator and maintainer of the Quackwatch website, Steve Barrett; i.e. a SLAPP lawsuit.

Apparently unsatisfied with its legal thuggery against Steve Barrett, Doctors Data has apparently decided to plumb new depths by using new media to threaten other bloggers. This time around, Doctors Data has actually Tweeted a cease and desist threat against blogger Liz Ditz. Here’s the Tweet:

@lizditz Cease and desist libelling us or we will sue you. http://tinyurl.com/docsdata. Doctor’s Data Lawyers.

Oh, wait. This Twitter account appears to be a parody.

I think.

Given Doctors Data and it’s record, it’s hard to tell.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael Meadon
    July 13, 2010

    Definitely a parody… Check out the website they link to.

  2. #2 Joseph
    July 13, 2010

    I was going to say they are a bunch of ass-hats (and they are), but the Twitter account is clearly a parody.

  3. #3 Mike Lisieski
    July 13, 2010

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter. I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

  4. #4 Mike Lisieski
    July 13, 2010

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter. I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

  5. #5 Mike Lisieski
    July 13, 2010

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter. I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

  6. #6 Mike Lisieski
    July 13, 2010

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter. I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

  7. #7 Mike Lisieski
    July 13, 2010

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter. I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

  8. #8 Mike Lisieski
    July 13, 2010

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter. I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

  9. #9 Science 2.0
    July 13, 2010

    If not, it will be a parody now.

  10. #10 Jojo
    July 13, 2010

    Nice parody. I was tempted to say that it was obviously a parody because no one would ever use Twitter to provide professional services, except that Dr. Jay has just done just that.

  11. #11 Liz Ditz
    July 13, 2010

    It just goes to show that you need to have your critical thinking hat on at all times. I didn’t click through to the site…

    All I can claim is that I was late to a dinner party when the tweet in question showed up.

    But this brings up a theme from TAM8, best expressed by Encyclopedia Billtanica:

    If we are to set for ourselves the goal of reaching people and helping reason become valued, then our tactics need to be taken into account.

    To my mind, this parody site is an excellent use of humor to ridicule the foolishness of Doctor’s Data — both the foolishness of the “services” they provide and the foolishness of the litigation against Quackwatch and Dr. Barrett.

  12. #12 Jud
    July 13, 2010

    Mike Lisieski writes:

    Although this one is fake – but could this ever work? I imagine that some people are most reliably reached via twitter.

    Laws regarding legal notice virtually always provide for certain forms of notice. However, in many instances if you can show actual notification (e.g., a responding tweet, a court filing, etc.), that is enough to overcome an objection to the form of the notice.

  13. #13 Ken
    July 13, 2010

    Mike Lisieski #3:

    I imagine the day that hip lawyers start selling their services on social networking sites.

    It was an advertisement by a law firm on the old USENET service many years ago which ended up giving us the word “spam” in the internet world. You can thank them every time you get spam in your email. Lawyers have been polluting online social networking since it’s inception.

  14. #14 rob
    July 13, 2010

    i still can’t decide if it is a serious site or not. there is this disclaimer before they link to the original chelation article that Quackwatch posted.

    “Warning – there is science shit below. It will make your head hurt if you aren’t a science nerd. REMEMBER – this stuff is super-secret, we can’t let this shit go public, or it will ruin our scam :-(

    hmmm…still can’t decide, even though i’m a science nerd.

    wait there is also this disclaimer at the bottom of each page at the site:

    “This is a non-commerical site designed for parody, criticism and commentary. It has ABSOLUTELY NO connection whatsoever with the Doctors Data, the Scientology sect or its affiliated organisations. All content should be treated as opinion and all trademarks/copyrighted material herein are owned by their respective trademark owners”

    hmmm…i guess it *might* be a parody.
    :)

  15. #15 Nescio
    July 13, 2010

    It’s getting really hard to tell truth from satire these days. Check out Mike Adams’ latest rant against chemotherapy, which culminates in him blaming pharmacists for getting cancer from poor health and safety practices in their workplaces, and advising people with cancer to refuse chemotherapy.

    There seems to be a trend in the autism biomedical movement for doing tests on children then misinterpreting them using utterly inappropriate reference ranges, as is done to con people into thinking they have mercury poisoning.

    I used to lurk on an autism biomedical forum where I saw perfectly normal alkaline phosphatase results from children interpreted according to adult reference ranges (children’s bones are growing so they have higher alkaline phosphatase results than adults) and parents told that their children have deranged calcium metabolism and needed to be put on a calcium restricted diet. I also saw raised BUN/creatinine ratios that were due to low creatinine interpreted as meaning that the child had kidney disease, which is nonsense. There were other similar abuses, but you get the gist. I did try to politely explain where they were going wrong, but was ignored, and eventually censored so I left.

  16. #16 wfjag
    July 13, 2010

    @Nescio
    “It’s getting really hard to tell truth from satire these days.”

    A bit of an understatement. Reality is becoming a parody of itself — and not just in the US or among clear whack-a-loons. The following are all real legal actions:

    Cease-and-Desist Letter of the Day: Is That a Lightsaber in Your Pocket? By Elie Mystal , 08 Jul 2010

    “’Star Wars’ creator George Lucas wants to force a laser company to stop making a new, high-powered product he says looks too much like the famous lightsaber from his classic sci-fi series.

    Lucasfilm Ltd. has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hong Kong-based Wicked Lasers, threatening legal action if it doesn’t change its Pro Arctic Laser series or stop selling it altogether.”

    http://abovethelaw.com/ridiculousness/

    Neil Young sued for not sounding like Neil Young

    “David Geffen and his label, Geffen Records, actually sued Young for intentionally making ‘uncharacteristic and uncommercial music.’”

    http://xpn.org/blogs/885mmmm/2007/10/09/459-neil-young-sued-for-not-sounding-like-neil-young/

    Bundaberg teacher claims $400,000 damages from injuries to larynx from yelling at students, The Sunday Mail (Qld) July 11, 2010

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/sunday-mail/bundaberg-teacher-claims-400000-damages-from-injuries-to-larynx-from-yelling-at-students/story-e6frep2f-1225890206075

    Ex-doomsday followers fight for money back, By Candice Marcus, Wed Jul 7, 2010

    “They want their money back, claiming they handed over more than $400,000 and $1 million respectively to the church based on lies about a doomsday scenario.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/07/2947056.htm?section=justin

  17. #17 Scott H
    July 13, 2010

    Doesn’t seem that tough to call parody when it is stated right on the twitter account.

    “Bio: Doctor’s Data, Inc. (DDI) a premier clinical laboratory – we parody/criticise them.”

  18. #18 Raging Bee
    July 13, 2010

    New word of the day: twitigation. Kinda has a ring to it…

  19. #19 Liz Ditz
    July 13, 2010

    It’s getting really hard to tell truth from satire these days

    Poe’s Law, now operating in the reality-denying sector.

    Hmmmn. What about a parody of Age of Autism — especially the comments? Out of my skill set, but surely somebody out there could?

  20. #20 David N. Brown
    July 13, 2010

    I am inclined to think that the tweet was sent by a critic of Barrett (Bolen can automatically be suspected) who, while not representing DDI and probably not acting with their knowledge or approval, is trying to further the case. The individual could have falsely used the parody link to a) make the threat appear possibly to come from DDI and b) make Barrett’s defenders appear less credible once the bogus nature was discovered.

  21. #21 Scott
    July 13, 2010

    Hmmmn. What about a parody of Age of Autism — especially the comments? Out of my skill set, but surely somebody out there could?

    They’ve gone so far into Poe territory that I’m not sure a meaningful parody could be done. There’s NOTHING so insane it wouldn’t be expected there.

    A more interesting experiment would be for somebody to go “undercover” and start posting the most guanophretic lunacy they can come up with. I suspect the response would be enthusiastic acceptance. Kind of an updated Sokal.

  22. #22 Erika
    July 13, 2010

    Cease & desist tweets aren’t new–one of my colleagues got one a year ago today. Summary here http://bit.ly/17lTAG Original post (read from bottom, as she edited w/ new developments) at http://bit.ly/hggYD, and final chapter (?) here: http://bit.ly/6FqJ34. I’m beginning to wonder whether the Clinical Reader staff joined the mgmt team at SEED, though.

  23. #23 Iris
    July 13, 2010

    Something similar happened to a friend of mine last year when she was given “legal” notice via a tweet (the good parts version and the original version). The offending company seems to have pulled up its stakes and left the internet between then and now.

  24. #24 Don't Panic
    July 13, 2010

    Ken@8,
    That’s right the green card lawyers in 1994. I had a tee shirt that said “green card lawyers, spamming the world” for many years until it wore out. At the tome I had a couple of exchanges with them about the propriety of such actions — it turned usenet into a mess of irrelevant crap (as opposed to simply a place of overheated arguments) soon after.

  25. #25 Nikki Dettmar
    July 13, 2010

    Not exactly common, but I celebrated my first anniversary of having a cease & desist tweet because of my blogging today! :)

    My original post is http://eagledawg.blogspot.com/2009/07/clinical-reader-starry-ethics-fail.html A tip: Archive that tweet via screencapture or other methods before it is deleted.

    Best,
    Nikki

  26. #26 Nikki Dettmar
    July 13, 2010

    Not exactly common, but I celebrated my first anniversary of having a cease & desist tweet because of my blogging today! :)

    My original post is http://eagledawg.blogspot.com/2009/07/clinical-reader-starry-ethics-fail.html A tip: Archive that tweet via screencapture or other methods before it is deleted.

    Best,
    Nikki

  27. #27 Wade
    July 16, 2010

    well cease & desist tweets would be quick to respond to, and less annoying then my fax machine going off at 3 am.

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