Respectful Insolence

A friend of mine sent me a link to one of my hometown news stations because he saw something that irritated him. On the front page, there is a poll of such epic burning stupid that it requires an immediate crash. I may not be P.Z., but I have in some instances overcome my previous dislike of poll crashing, especially when it’s a poll this stupid:

Do you think immunizations are safe?

Yes
No

As if an Internet poll has any bearing whatsoever on whether vaccines are safe or even on whether people believe vaccines are safe.

The poll is located on the webpage of the Detroit FOX affiliate in the rightmost sidebar about halfway down. Right now, the poll is running 43% yes, 56% no. Go, my mini-horde! You’ll have my eternal (or at least for a few hours) thanks.

ADDENDUM: The poll appears to be gone, replaced by a poll about the Lions asking how many games they’ll win this year. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

Comments

  1. #1 AnthonyK
    August 29, 2010

    errr…link? And should I put in a “no” for Dr Jay?

  2. #2 jenbphillips
    August 29, 2010

    Voted. Go, Insoleers, go!

  3. #3 isles
    August 29, 2010

    Voted. It’s now one tick closer to sanity.

  4. #4 Corina Becker
    August 29, 2010

    GO SCIENCEMOB, GO!!!!!

    :D

  5. #5 AnnT
    August 29, 2010

    More “research” for the Daily Mail to draw on! Voted.

  6. #6 Little_Ruru
    August 29, 2010

    Voted.

    Yes: 45%
    No: 55%

  7. #7 Do'C
    August 29, 2010

    A Fox-Affiliate poll we’ll never see:

    Do you think (insert vaccine-preventable infectious childhood disease here) is safe for kids to contract or spread to others?

    Yes
    No

  8. #8 irenedelse
    August 29, 2010

    Slight improvement:

    Yes: 46%
    No: 53%

    Must… go… on… clicking!

  9. #9 Enkidu
    August 29, 2010

    Voted. How depressing that it’s running so close.

  10. #10 MI Dawn
    August 29, 2010

    Voted, and it’s sad that ANY news station would have something like this.

  11. #11 bensmyson
    August 29, 2010

    Thanks for the heads up!

  12. #12 Jerad
    August 29, 2010

    49/50 almost there!

  13. #13 monoboyzmom
    August 29, 2010

    50/49 now, your influence is helping!

  14. #14 NancyNew
    August 29, 2010

    50/50, now–5:40

  15. #15 FreeSpeaker
    August 29, 2010

    50/49 safe

  16. #16 Charles Sullivan
    August 29, 2010

    Done. 51% yes, 48% no.

  17. #17 Gordon
    August 29, 2010

    If people are as categorical in lauding 100% safety, then perhaps Fox need a new poll:

    Is a parent, who’s child suffers a debilitating adverse reaction to a vaccine after receiving assurances that said vaccine was safe, justified in taking the life of the person that caused said harm?

    Since the pathology for many of these adverse reactions are unknown, to claim something to be absolutely safe when the underlying neurochemistry is still not understood smacks of the next generation of flat earth claimants.

    That isn’t science. It’s making faith-based claims and calling it science.

  18. #18 Synna
    August 29, 2010

    yes = 51%
    no = 48%

    1% for rounding?

  19. #19 Kelly
    August 29, 2010

    Clicked and it’s now 52/47 for safe. The poll can’t even do math right!

  20. #20 Timbo
    August 29, 2010

    Yes = 52%
    No = 47%
    Maybe the Insolent mob is larger than the Fox Detroit station’s.

  21. #21 Broken Link
    August 29, 2010

    Why are these polls always hosted on sites that take forever to load?

    In any case, here’s a way of voting early and often.

    Open Firefox, multiple tabs, put the URL in each of them.

    Vote in the first tab, type in ctrl+shift+DEL to clear your cache. Reload that tab. Move to the second tab, and repeat. This way, you are voting in multiple tabs while the page reloads.

    Now at 53% for the science.

  22. #22 Punter
    August 29, 2010

    If this type of rank manipulation is condoned here, and by inference, necessary, why would anyone believe anything written at ScienceBlogs? It makes SB bloggers look like cheerleaders not scientists.

    The science is dead. Long live the science.

  23. #23 augustine
    August 29, 2010

    In any case, here’s a way of voting early and often.
    broken link:

    Open Firefox, multiple tabs, put the URL in each of them.

    Vote in the first tab, type in ctrl+shift+DEL to clear your cache. Reload that tab. Move to the second tab, and repeat. This way, you are voting in multiple tabs while the page reloads.

    Now at 53% for the science.
    ——————————————————–
    Another fine example of “scientist” ethics. Honesty isn’t exactly a virtue by SBMers is it? Rationalizing dishonesty for the good fight?

    For science? WTH?

  24. #24 Shannon
    August 29, 2010

    Voted. Now at 60% yes, 39% no (what the heck, are they truncating instead of rounding?).

  25. #25 Ichthyic
    August 29, 2010

    It makes SB bloggers look like cheerleaders not scientists.

    …and the peanut gallery has spoken!

    psst, Mr. observant:

    As if an Internet poll has any bearing whatsoever on whether vaccines are safe or even on whether people believe vaccines are safe.

    the point of crashing internet polls is to show they can be crashed. thus, are an entirely worthless endeavor from an information gathering standpoint.

    sad commentary on your intellectual prowess there, but I doubt you’ll even now grasp your mistake.

  26. #26 Charles Sullivan
    August 29, 2010

    You’ve made PZ envious, Orac, so he’s decided to join in the fun.

  27. #27 Punter
    August 29, 2010

    “the point of crashing internet polls is to show they can be crashed. thus, are an entirely worthless endeavor from an information gathering standpoint.”

    So then why not vote the other way? Wouldn’t that go just as far, nay farther, in showing how useless they are?

  28. #28 Orac
    August 29, 2010

    f this type of rank manipulation is condoned here, and by inference, necessary, why would anyone believe anything written at ScienceBlogs? It makes SB bloggers look like cheerleaders not scientists.

    No, it’s simply a strategy to show how ridiculous Internet polls are. If you’re a blogger with enough traffic, it is quite an effective strategy as well. Now that PZ has joined the fun, at least I know I’ll be spared the embarrassment if my paltry traffic wasn’t enough to budge the poll numbers much. :-)

  29. #29 Todd W.
    August 29, 2010

    @Punter

    The problem is that then the news organizations talk about their unscientific poll as if it has any validity whatsoever. If the poll is crashed to reach the overwhelmingly anti-reality answer, then that gets passed on as if it were some semblance of fact. Better to have spread about a reality-based answer (“Vaccines are safe”…though even that’s a stupid way of phrasing it, since “safe” is a relative term) than something that only exists in the fevered imaginations of the conspiracy-minded (“Vaccines are not safe”).

    At any rate, if the people putting up the poll are not going to put in the effort to give even a semblance of rigor to it, then I see no real reason for people to not crash it. As for myself, I would only vote once and not do the cache-clearing multi-voting that others might.

  30. #30 dogmatichaos
    August 29, 2010

    @Punter

    I fail to realize how this would invalidate the opinions of those that post for scienceblogs. If this were anything approximating a scientific poll (is there such a thing?) or scientific research, then perhaps your objection might be valid, but no, it is neither of these.

  31. #31 Becca
    August 29, 2010

    Voted. 67:32 – go team, go!

    I don’t know why but I really did think that even Fox weren’t *that* stupid.

    My mistake.

  32. #32 Don Smith
    August 29, 2010

    MI Dawn @10,

    I see your mistake there. You were misled by the name. Just because they have “news” in their name does not mean they are actually a news station. Whenever you see FOX in their name you know it’s not a news station, it’s a Murdoch propaganda outlet.

  33. #33 The Blind Watchmaker
    August 29, 2010

    72 Y, 27 N

    Respectful!

  34. #34 Ichthyic
    August 29, 2010

    So then why not vote the other way?

    why?

    It was already being crashed the other way when we started.

    oh, wait, you didn’t know that, did you?

    LOL

    what a maroon.

    chances are, it will get crashed back the other way if some freeper site takes notice.

  35. #35 brian
    August 29, 2010

    Unfortunately, polls of misinformed people can have consequences.

    A UK court recently awarded 90,000 pounds to a child who was allegedly injured by the MMR vaccine. Unfortunately, polling of the three-person panel produced a result that ignored the scientifically-supported dissenting view (of one of the three members of the panel) that the boy would have developed in the same manner whether or not he had been vaccinated:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1307095/Family-win-18-year-fight-MMR-damage-son–90-000-payout-concerns-vaccine-surfaced.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16713920

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20447868

    Sheesh.

  36. #36 Jackrabbit
    August 29, 2010

    Seventy-four to twenty five for YES. Honestly, how ridiculous. Do you think my rabbits are shedding too much?: Yes, No.
    P.S. The answer is yes. Come on over and groom them. I will give you wine and snacks.

  37. #37 Lea
    August 29, 2010

    this poll is horeshit.
    y/n?

  38. #38 donahue
    August 29, 2010

    Voted!
    77% Yes
    22% No

  39. #39 Leslie
    August 29, 2010

    new to the blog and I live nowhere near Detroit, but I threw in a yes-77% at the time

  40. #40 AndyD
    August 29, 2010

    HEY! Here’s an Aussie one too…

    Do you believe in the benefits of vaccination?

    Currently 75% for the evidence.

  41. #41 Prometheus
    August 29, 2010

    What a stupid question! Leaving out the fact that internet polls aren’t even a valid way of finding public opinion (let alone scientific facts), the question is simplistic to the point of being ridiculous.

    Anyone who knows the data on vaccines knows that the correct answer (i.e. the answer that conforms to the data) isn’t one of the options.

    “Are vaccines safe?” Compared to what? In what way? Using what metric?

    Anyone with more than two functional neurons knows that “safe” is a relative condition, not absolute. Something is “safe” relative to something else – it is not “safe” in and of itself.

    There are probably more people killed or injured by vaccines in the US each year than are killed or critically injured in guinea pig attacks, so one could argue that guinea pigs are safer than vaccines. However, not everybody is exposed to guinea pigs, so the number of deaths might not reflect the true risk from homicidal guinea pigs.

    On the other hand, we have mountains of data showing that vaccines are orders of magnitude safer than the diseases they are meant to prevent. In that sense, vaccines are safe.

    As far as I know, there is no activity – or inactivity – that is completely, 100% safe. In that sense, vaccines are not “safe” – and neither is anything else.

    A poll like this – one that obviously was already being “crashed” by the vaxophobics – is simply begging to be “crashed” by “our side”. If there are people out there whose opinion of vaccines can be influenced by a nonsense Fox News (or ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, NPR, etc.) internet poll, then we are doing a public service by pointing them in the direction of the data.

    Prometheus

  42. #42 Mary
    August 29, 2010

    79 for, 20 against (including my vote). I’m old enough to have heard how my grandmother’s best friend and her whole family died during a diphtheria epidemic in Wisconsin in the 1880′s — and to have had a childhood friend myself who went from normal to “slow” after measles came through the school — and to have known a lot of people who were crippled from polio, and a couple who died of it.

    I also remember the little bottles of merthiolate that moms used to paint all over the open wounds on their kids. (Just looked it up — you can still buy it on Amazon! But the label is in Spanish.) If THAT didn’t cause autism, I have a hard time seeing how the tiny bit in vaccines could.

    My two kids are autistic, and it’s never occurred to me to blame vaccines.

  43. #43 Alan Kellogg
    August 30, 2010

    The poll isn’t stupid, all it’s doing is giving people some idea of what people think of vaccines.

  44. #44 IBY
    August 30, 2010

    @Allan Kellogg
    The poll can’t even measure what people think because people who go to that site are not representative of the whole population. It is selective to only people who read Fox website. So yes, the poll is stupid. Whoever made it believes that polling is a legitimate way of finding people’s opinion when it is not.

  45. #46 mike
    August 30, 2010

    Well some maybe, but lately they developed them too fast that makes me think that they did not put a lot research in the development of them.

  46. #47 AndyD
    August 30, 2010

    Darn! I think my link to a similar Aussie poll got stuck in the spam filter.

    “Do you believe in the benefits of vaccinations?” at “www.tweednews.com.au”

  47. #48 Anthony
    August 30, 2010

    Voted.

    Yes: 85%
    No: 15%

  48. #49 davidp
    August 30, 2010

    Please also visit this poll (referenced by Andy) in Australia’s anti-vaccination heartland. Currently 24% say no to “Do you believe in the benefits of vaccinations?”

  49. #50 djfav
    August 30, 2010

    Ah, so I’m working for two overlords today. Very well then. Just popped over to say my my my the Firefox add-ons Cookie Monster and iMacros are quite useful wink wind nudge nudge say no more say no more.

  50. #51 Julian Frost
    August 30, 2010

    I just voted. 84% Yes, 16% no.
    In other news, the Cedillo Appeal from the Omnibus Autism Proceedings has been rejected by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Hopefully, this “MMR-causes-autism” BS will now be over.

  51. #52 Jerad
    August 30, 2010

    AndyD: I didn’t see a poll there, but seeing as the top three stories are about a measles panic it seems a silly question.

  52. #53 Rogue Medic
    August 30, 2010

    @ 21 Punter,

    If this type of rank manipulation ridicule is condoned here, and by inference, necessary, why would anyone believe anything written at ScienceBlogs anyplace that promotes these meaningless polls? It makes SB bloggers look like cheerleaders not scientists. It demonstrates that the reality denialists are insignificant.

    Internet polls appeal to those of you who deny reality, right up until the point where you have to deal with the reality that reality denialists are not the only ones with internet access. Any psychic would have warned you about that. Maybe your psychic is having fun at your expense.

    The crystal ball tells me that this is a good time to go up against Orac and Pharyngula in an internet poll. Go for it. Really!
    .

  53. #54 Rogue Medic
    August 30, 2010

    @ 26 Punter,

    the point of crashing internet polls is to show they can be crashed. thus, are an entirely worthless endeavor from an information gathering standpoint.

    So then why not vote the other way? Wouldn’t that go just as far, nay farther, in showing how useless they are?

    Why would anyone pass up the opportunity to ridicule anti-vaccinationists?

    Not that these opportunities are rare, but anti-vaccinationists are ridiculous. Therefore, the most appropriate way to deal with anti-vaccinationists is ridicule.
    .

  54. #55 adelady
    August 30, 2010

    If you click on any measles story in the Tweed Daily News the poll is beneath the text.

    Very sad story about the death of a child – at 12 years old – from a 1/100000 complication of measles.

  55. #56 adelady
    August 30, 2010

    Sorry, that’s not clear unless you read the story. Ill at 10 months, blind by 7 yrs old, dead at 12.

  56. #57 MikeMa
    August 30, 2010

    Vote early and often! 86-13

  57. #58 Hegz
    August 30, 2010

    86-13 More clearcut than voting in the Oz election so far at any rate!

  58. #59 Sauceress
    August 30, 2010

    Latest on the Tweed Daily News poll
    yes: 76%
    no: 23%

    The percentage of no votes is still rather disheartening.
    No doubt the AVN is on it.

  59. #60 Mu
    August 30, 2010

    Looks like it has been replaced by a poll on how many games the Detroit Lions are going to win, and the lowest possible option is 2 or less. This shows how deluded that Fox affiliate is.

  60. #61 Dan Weber
    August 30, 2010

    I’m not sure it’s possible for even the Detroit Lions to win fewer than “2 or less” games.

  61. #62 wfjag
    August 30, 2010

    @Don Smith
    “I see your mistake there. You were misled by the name. Just because they have “news” in their name does not mean they are actually a news station. Whenever you see FOX in their name you know it’s not a news station, it’s a Murdoch propaganda outlet.”

    Absolutely, Don. We should all get our news from credible sources like HuffPo (i.e., Stephen Barrie, ND (“Author, medical researcher, entrepreneur”) Child Autism Epidemic Firmly Linked to Environment (Aug. 30, 2010) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-barrie-nd/child-autism-epidemic-fir_b_696179.html , and David Kirby (“Author/Journalist”) New Study: Hepatitis B Vaccine Triples the Risk of Autism in Infant Boys (Sept. 17, 2009) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/new-study-hepatitis-b-vac_b_289288.html ).

    In other news, see THERESA CEDILLO, et ux., Petitioners-Appellants, vs. SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Respondent-Appellee, No, 2010-5004, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ( August 27, 2010) http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/10-5004.pdf (affirming judgments of the Special Masters in the Omnibus Vaccine Trials).

    As a final FYI: These on-line polls are a measure of (and a way to jack-up the) numbers of people linking to the site. The purpose is to generate numbers to support claims for advertising sales (more people linking to site supposedly means more readers, and so more advertisers should be interested in posting ads on the site — and possibly at an increased rate — and, increased numbers to the site automatically results in increasing the on-line ads that are programed to pop-up on heavily trafficed sites). Accordingly, questions are phrased to generate controversy, as that tends to increase the numbers) rather than asking or seeking any useful information about the supposed subject of the question. And, another consequence is that by voting you essentially guarantee that the question will be the subject of another on-line survey in the future. These folks ain’t dumb, Don. They’ve got you figured out completely and are playing you like a Concert Master pays a well-tuned Grand Piano.

    Happy trails.

  62. #63 jen
    August 30, 2010

    why are you promoting a poll crash? What the poll is simply hoping to do is to get some idea of what Joe Public thinks about the issue. Not what a bunch of pharma people think. Don’t you want to know what Joe Public thinks? What would it benefit to skew the results? It doesn’t sound very scientific to me to even want to do this. You can play with the results but it really doesn’t benefit anyone. The fact is, people are feeling very mixed about the vaccine schedule/agenda. This should be addressed by doing all that is possible-yes scientifically to study the effects on children, not poll-crashing.

  63. #64 mad the swine
    August 30, 2010

    The 2008 Detroit Lions became the only team in NFL history to lose all 16 regular-season games. Ironically, their preseason record had been 4-0. They are only the second team to go winless without a tie (next to the 0–14 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers) since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. They went 2–14 in 2009. The Lions currently hold a 20 game road losing streak, the 4th longest in NFL history.

    Having a “2 or less” win option on a Lions poll is like saying your next bypass surgery is going to cost you “$50 or more”. True, yes, but…

  64. #65 Todd W.
    August 30, 2010

    @jen

    What the poll is simply hoping to do is to get some idea of what Joe Public thinks about the issue.

    Uh, jen. No, it isn’t. The purpose of the poll is to get a fluff, unscientific sampling of a highly self-selected population (the viewers/readers of that Fox affiliate). It is not a scientific poll.

    It doesn’t sound very scientific to me to even want to do this.

    No one claimed that poll-crashing was scientific. What it is, however, is a way to demonstrate the total lack of validity of such internet polls. If this were a real scientific endeavor, then trying to screw with the results would probably not fly (though I could see such attempts being justified as trying to reveal flaws in methodology).

    Not what a bunch of pharma people think.

    What pharma people? I’m assuming you mean people who are in the employ of pharmaceutical companies? I have no personal financial ties to any pharma company (not that it’s anyone’s business, anyway). I’m sure that there is a good mix of people who read this that also receive no financial incentives from any pharma company, your paranoid conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

  65. #66 Travis
    August 30, 2010

    jen, you comments have already been addressed. Read Orac’s post #28 and post #29. Punter already brought this up. Online polls are not scientific polls, they do not even tell you what the public thinks. At best they can tell you what the readers of a specific website think but even that is rather questionable as you can see what a couple of websites can do to poll results. The fact that online polls can be so easily manipulated shows how useless they are, and how misleading they can be.

  66. #67 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 30, 2010

    jen:

    You have completely missed the point of poll-crashing. It’s not primarily to make “our side” look good, it’s to demolish a falsehood. No internet poll results can be considered anywhere near accurate, but that will not stop the anti-vax liars from using them if it meets their needs for propaganda. If you want a scientific poll to measure Joe Public’s concern, there are a lot of groups that will do this (for an appropriate fee). Of course, this has next to nothing to do with vaccine safety.

    I agree with former Canadian PM John Diefenbaker: “Dogs know what to do with polls”.

  67. #68 Punter
    August 30, 2010

    “Why would anyone pass up the opportunity to ridicule anti-vaccinationists?”

    Because by doing that you are only creating more anti-vaccinationists. Perhaps that’s your goal?

  68. #69 Rogue Medic
    August 30, 2010

    @ 67 Punter,

    Why would anyone pass up the opportunity to ridicule anti-vaccinationists?

    Because by doing that you are only creating more anti-vaccinationists. Perhaps that’s your goal?

    That is one way to explain a causal connection between the ridiculous and anti-vaccinationists, but it is much more likely the other way around. Or maybe it is the fluoride in the drinking water that causes anti-vaccinationists. ;-)

    The crystal ball tells me that this is a good time to go up against Orac and Pharyngula in an internet poll. Go for it. Really!

    Does that ridicule mean that a sensible person just traded his sanity for a tin foil hat?

    Every time a gong rings, does that mean that another loon just got his Tin Foil Hat Second Class?

    Do you really think that ridiculing what is essentially ridiculous will make people more gullible?
    .

  69. #70 Punter
    August 30, 2010

    “That is one way to explain a causal connection between the ridiculous and anti-vaccinationists, but it is much more likely the other way around. Or maybe it is the fluoride in the drinking water that causes anti-vaccinationists. ;-)

    The crystal ball tells me that this is a good time to go up against Orac and Pharyngula in an internet poll. Go for it. Really!

    Does that ridicule mean that a sensible person just traded his sanity for a tin foil hat?

    Every time a gong rings, does that mean that another loon just got his Tin Foil Hat Second Class?

    Do you really think that ridiculing what is essentially ridiculous will make people more gullible?”

    I really have no idea what you are getting all frothy at the mouth about. You seem to have a very black/white view of the world. In my experience, ridicule hasn’t really been all that effective a form of communication. Seems to be the only way you know how to communicate however, so I’m outta here.

  70. #71 Rogue Medic
    August 30, 2010

    @ 62 jen,

    why are you promoting a poll crash? What the poll is simply hoping to do is to get some idea of what Joe Public thinks about the issue.

    Internet polls are just a way for people to try to manipulate data to say what they want it to say.

    Internet polls have nothing to do with what the general public thinks.

    There is no validity to internet polls.

    Anyone telling you internet polls are valid is an idiot, a liar, or maybe even both.
    .

  71. #72 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2010

    all I will end by saying is that Punter is most appropriately named.

    what a maroon.

  72. #73 Ichthyic
    August 30, 2010
  73. #74 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 30, 2010

    For Punter, a quote from HL Mencken that Martin Gardner was fond of:

    “One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.”

  74. #75 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 30, 2010

    In my experience, ridicule hasn’t really been all that effective a form of communication. Seems to be the only way you know how to communicate however, so I’m outta here.

    Well, you really aren’t looking so great from the communication standpoint. You’ve been trying to communicate that we should respect the integrity of an internet poll, and every time we try to point out that an internet poll has no integrity you absolutely fail to communicate any reason we should believe that an internet poll does, indeed, have integrity.

    I will give the “you shouldn’t crash the poll!!” people one, and exactly one point. If it were possible, it would be far preferable to show how ridiculous and point-free the polls are by selecting a nonsense answer. If people looked at the results of an online poll and saw that 10% said “Yes,” 10% said “No,” and 80% said “Three ducks in a fountain! Narf Narf!” they’d throw up their hands and say “Geez Louise, it’s impossible to get any real information from these polls, when it’s so easy for someone to tamper with them!” which is exactly true and exactly what we want people to realize.

    But as the situation stands, few polls give the option to write in an answer, so the choices we have amount to:

    1) Crash the polls to support the answer that science supports;
    2) Let the polls be crashed to support the pseudoscience answer.*

    No one so far has communicated a compelling argument for why 2) would be the superior choice.

    * Anti-vaxxers make death threats against those they perceive as enemies. They try to “out” people who disagree with them on message boards, so they can register phony complaints with that person’s employer and try to get that person fired. They even commit “blood libel“, portraying their enemies as feasting on babies. If you think they would balk for one moment at tampering with the non-existent integrity of an internet poll, I doubt sense could ever get through to you.

  75. #76 Punter
    August 30, 2010

    “Well, you really aren’t looking so great from the communication standpoint. You’ve been trying to communicate that we should respect the integrity of an internet poll.”

    I did no such thing. I simply questioned the need for a group of scientists to waste their precious time to manipulate a useless internet poll. If the ‘integrity’ of the internet poll is such an overarching concern of yours, then why not write the website asking them to take it down or offer more choices? Manipulating the results doesn’t achieve your goal of ‘integrity’, doesn’t show the uselessness of the poll, and to be perfectly frank, anyone manipulating internet polls is hardly coming from a place of integrity in the first place no matter how you try to slice and dice it.

    “But as the situation stands, few polls give the option to write in an answer, so the choices we have amount to:

    1) Crash the polls to support the answer that science supports;
    2) Let the polls be crashed to support the pseudoscience answer.*”

    How about:
    3) Leave the poll alone and do something more important with your time like combing your eyebrows, or inspecting the lint caught in your navel. I would imagine either activity to be more productive and enjoyable.

    If you claim that internet polls are useless, then crashing one to support your point of view is a complete waste of time, since its useless by defintion.

    “* Anti-vaxxers make death threats against those they perceive as enemies. They try to “out” people who disagree with them on message boards, so they can register phony complaints with that person’s employer and try to get that person fired. They even commit “blood libel”, portraying their enemies as feasting on babies. If you think they would balk for one moment at tampering with the non-existent integrity of an internet poll, I doubt sense could ever get through to you.”

    I seriously doubt any “anti-vaxxers” are making death threats to anyone, but if they are they should be reported to the authorities. But rather than do that, you would rather manipulate a useless internet poll? I have a feeling that that won’t silence the “anti-vaxxers” death threats much, but its an interesting strategy.

  76. #77 Guardian of the Poll
    August 30, 2010

    WOW! I never though I would see the day when Orac teamed up with the infamous poll fornicator PZ Myers to fornicate a poll. I guess Orac has stooped to the lowest level. I guess that’s what we get when we decend from ape-like creatures though.

  77. #78 ebohlman
    August 30, 2010

    I just want to reiterate what everybody else has said about Internet (and other self-selected) polls: they are completely worthless. In fact, the classic illustration of how worthless they are is to compare the results of self-selected and scientfic polls on a completely non-controversial issue: the desirability of motherhood! A scientific poll asking mothers whether they’d still decide to have kids if they had a chance to redo their lives will come out overwhelmingly “yes”. A self-selected poll will come out strongly “no”.

    Self-selected polls overwhelmingly favor extreme positions.

  78. #79 Rogue Medic
    August 30, 2010

    @ 76 Punter the Liar,

    Well, you really aren’t looking so great from the communication standpoint. You’ve been trying to communicate that we should respect the integrity of an internet poll.

    I did no such thing.

    anyone manipulating internet polls is hardly coming from a place of integrity in the first place no matter how you try to slice and dice it.

    Punter had more credibility when Punter was claiming, so I’m outta here. Even that credibility is gone.

    Punter is just another anti-vax liar striving for credibility, and failing.
    .

  79. #80 madder
    August 30, 2010

    Punter:

    In my experience, ridicule hasn’t really been all that effective a form of communication.

    Then you aren’t any good at it.

  80. #81 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 30, 2010

    If you claim that internet polls are useless, then crashing one to support your point of view is a complete waste of time, since its useless by defintion.

    I don’t think anyone claimed that internet polls were “useless”. They could be very useful as propaganda by antivaxers as well as creationists and other anti-scientific loudmouths. Consequently, invalidating a falsehood by crashing a poll is a very worthwhile activity.

  81. #82 Punter
    August 30, 2010

    “Punter had more credibility when Punter was claiming, so I’m outta here. Even that credibility is gone.

    Punter is just another anti-vax liar striving for credibility, and failing. ”

    Yes my mistake, I didn’t realize I was dealing with someone suffering from paranoid delusions. Oh no! The “anti-vaxxers” are coming to get me! I better crash another useless internet poll in order to stop them from making death threats!

    I will leave you to your demons.

  82. #83 djfav
    August 31, 2010

    And we will leave you to your whinging. Carry on.

  83. #84 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 31, 2010

    I seriously doubt any “anti-vaxxers” are making death threats to anyone

    Then you’re extremely naive, because you’ve wandered into a discussion that you don’t really know enough about and started telling people what they should do, based on your hunches on matters you haven’t taken the least time to investigate.

    Either that, or you actually did take the time to investigate whether vaccine advocates have received death threats and had to have armed guards accompany them to meetings at the CDC, but you “seriously doubt” that these accounts are true because you’ve decided that vaccine advocates are probably lying whenever they say something you don’t want to believe.

    Either way, your opinion becomes more and more meaningless as you demonstrate just how little thought you put into it.

  84. #85 augustine
    August 31, 2010

    I seriously doubt any “anti-vaxxers” are making death threats to anyone

    Then you’re extremely naive, because you’ve wandered into a discussion that you don’t really know enough about and started telling people what they should do,
    ————————————————-
    Ant, Have you received a threat? You seem really taken back. Are you OK? This has really gotten less scientific and more personal for you. Do you need someone to talk to? I’m here.

  85. #86 Poogles
    August 31, 2010

    “I simply questioned the need for a group of scientists to waste their precious time to manipulate a useless internet poll.”

    Well, first off, we’re not all scientists. Yes there are quite a few in the mix here, however, I believe the majority of the people here are non-scientists. And I can “waste” my precious time however I see fit, tyvm.

    “combing your eyebrows, or inspecting the lint caught in your navel. I would imagine either activity to be more productive and enjoyable.”

    I’m happy you are so easily amused! Really. Myself, however, I like something a little more intellectually stimulating than navel-gazing – like considering how useless internet polls are and poking fun at anti-vaccer’s and people who get all huffy about poll-crashing. Not rocket science or anything, but more enjoyable than combing my eyebrows.

    “they should be reported to the authorities. But rather than do that, you would rather manipulate a useless internet poll?”

    Well, they’re not mutually exclusive; one could do both – at the same time even! Also, I believe the only person who could report such a thing would be the one receiving the threat, yes?

    Also, Punter, you can stop protesting the ridicule being heaped onto anti-vaccer’s by claiming that it only creates more, and does no good. I was an anti-vaccer. I started reading skeptic sites, especially this one. I was being ridiculed (mostly indirectly, since I didn’t comment much) – and I changed my mind. I realized how ridiculous the anti-vacc arguments are, how illogical and dogmatic. Sure I felt pretty sheepish, especially when I told my husband – after previously beating him over the head about how bad vaccines were, LOL; but it was the logical choice, the one that has the most evidence, and I have become much better at changing my stance in the face of new (better) information. And I have Orac (and the intelligent commenters here!) to thank :-)

  86. #87 Kristen
    August 31, 2010

    but it was the logical choice, the one that has the most evidence, and I have become much better at changing my stance in the face of new (better) information. And I have Orac (and the intelligent commenters here!) to thank :-)

    Indeed :)

  87. #88 kittywink
    August 31, 2010

    Way to go Jackie Fletcher… £90,000 for severe damage caused her son by the MMR vaccine.

    I look forward to Orac’s coverage of it.

  88. #89 triskelethecat
    August 31, 2010

    @kittywink: Jackie Fletcher’s son has epilepsy and mental retardation. She claims he developed it after getting the MMR as a young child. Although there was little evidence to support it, the British Vaccine court (I forget its proper name) felt it was possible (51% possible…so just barely),so they got a settlement. Rather a small one, actually. Not all of the judges felt the vaccine caused the issue (IIRC, one actively dissented).

    AND: no one here has ever claimed vaccines are 100% harmless. But this STILL does not mean that the MMR or ANY other vaccine causes autism.

    The ball’s in your court, Spiro.

  89. #90 Chris
    August 31, 2010

    Punter:

    I seriously doubt any “anti-vaxxers” are making death threats to anyone, but if they are they should be reported to the authorities.

    Do you often go around with your ears covered yelling “Nah nah nah! I can’t hear you!”? Click on the blue text and you will find this:

    One recent post: “Offit should be prosecuted for crimes against our children.” After the death threat—a man wrote, “I will hang you by your neck until you are dead”—an armed guard followed Offit to lunch during meetings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    kittywink, see this write up. Now also please tell me who am I to blame for my son’s seizures and subsequent developmental delays? They occurred before he had any vaccines. Who should I sue? Who should I sue for his other seizures while suffering from a now vaccine preventable disease?

  90. #91 triskelethecat
    August 31, 2010

    Dammit; forgot I was signed in for Pharyngula again. That last post by triskelthecat is from me.

    MI Dawn

  91. #92 brian
    August 31, 2010

    @kittywink,

    If you believe that legal authorities have the last word on scientific and medical questions, you must of course accept the recent results from the appeal in the Cedillo Omnibus Autism case–right? I suppose you would also accept the results, then, in the other test cases, and thus also in the ca. 5,000 cases that therefore failed in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding.

    BTW, others have noted that the alleged MMR injury you mentioned certainly seems to resemble other alleged vaccine injuries that turned out to be due to mutations in the SCN1A gene–you might want to compare the news accounts with the symptoms of channelopathies such as Dravet syndrome and GEFS+. That’s why a physician on the panel noted that the plaintiff’s son was “genetically predisposed to epilepsy and that the vaccination triggered it rather than caused it.”

  92. #93 Punter
    September 1, 2010

    “One recent post: “Offit should be prosecuted for crimes against our children.”

    That isn’t a death threat. Its not a very nice thing to say maybe, but its certainly not a death threat. I’ve seen far worse written here about these mysterious “anti-vaxxers” that you think are hiding behind every corner ready to kill anyone wearing a white coat.

    “After the death threat—a man wrote, “I will hang you by your neck until you are dead”—an armed guard followed Offit to lunch during meetings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

    Do you have a link to this threat? I would like to see it, as I just really can’t imagine anyone seriously threatening to kill an immunologist. Sometimes crazy people write things on the internet for dramatic effect.

  93. #94 triskelethecat
    September 1, 2010

    @Punter: how about a reference from Autism’s False Prophets? In it, Dr Offit talks about the death threats and the threats to his family.

    And, I doubt the NY Times and Newsweek would have written about them in their interviews of Dr Offit unless they had some proof of their existance.

    Try a simple google search of “Paul Offit Death Threats”. WHY do you people not take the 2 seconds to do a search before a post like “I don’t believe it”.

  94. #95 Chris
    September 1, 2010

    Punter:

    Do you have a link to this threat?

    Do you not understand what the I meant by clicking on the “blue text”? That was the link! Do you have some kind of reading disability? Or do you have color blindness? Or are you just really really idiotic?

  95. #96 Chris
    September 1, 2010

    Just in case Punter actually has blue/green color blindness, here is the link I imbedded in html:
    http://www.newsweek.com/2008/10/24/stomping-through-a-medical-minefield.html

    Dude, you should have told us that you are blind to color coded links. We would have spelled it out to you more clearly. By the way, there are several articles that mention death threats to Offit… even some podcasts like this one: http://docartemis.com/brainsciencepodcast/2009/01/extra-books-and-ideas-25-paul-offit-md-on-vaccine-safety/ … this is the webpage, there are links to the audio podcast (labeled as “Listen to Dr. Offit’s Interview”), along with a visual transcript (labeled as “Episode Transcript (Download PDF)”).

    Is that clear enough for you?

  96. #97 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 1, 2010

    Do you have a link to this threat? I would like to see it, as I just really can’t imagine anyone seriously threatening to kill an immunologist. Sometimes crazy people write things on the internet for dramatic effect.

    The FBI found the threat credible, which is why Dr. Offit had to have an armed guard for a time.

    Trying to pretend that you know better than the FBI that the threat was not credible just makes you look asinine.

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