Respectful Insolence

One of the hazards of standing up for science and science-based medicine (and against cranks) is that some of these cranks will try to contact you at work. That’s why I have a policy about blog-related e-mails sent to me work address, and that policy is that I usually ignore them, whereas I might actually respond if it’s sent to my blog e-mail address. Well, it’s not an absolute policy. If it’s a reporter or fellow skeptic who contacts me at work, I might well respond from my blog address, but crank e-mails sent to my work address are 100% guaranteed to be sent straight to the metaphorical circular file (if such a thing existed in network of electronic information that is the Internet). So, cranks, if you want even a small chance that I might respond to your observations regarding the insolence, both respectful and not-so-respectful, that I lay down on a near-daily basis, don’t send your e-mail to any of my work e-mail addresses. You will be ignored. (I know, I know, no crank thinks or acknowledges that he’s a crank; so my warning will likely fall on deaf ears.) I’m not referring to just antivaccine cranks, either. I get it from all sorts, including alt-med believers and even 9/11 Truthers (even though I haven’t written about 9/11 conspiracy theories in a long time). If there’s one characteristic that cranks seem to share, regardless of their specific crankery, it’s a profound paranoia and feeling of grievance against the world in general and science in particular for not taking them seriously.

All of this is my usual roundabout way of saying that I really feel for Seth Kalichman. You might remember Seth. He’s a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Connecticut who’s made a name for himself casting the light of science and reason on a particularly vile form of quackery and pseudoscience, namely HIV/AIDS denialism. This particular form of quackery is based on the lie that HIV does not cause AIDS, and, besides writing a book about it, Kalichman maintains an excellent blog, Denying AIDS and Other Oddities. More recently, as I noted about a month ago, Kalichman has turned his attention to the antivaccine movement and managed to score a sweet $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation entitled “Establishing an Anti-Vaccine Surveillance and Alert System,” whose goal is to “establish an internet-based global monitoring and rapid alert system for finding, analyzing, and counteracting misinformation communication campaigns regarding vaccines to support global immunization efforts.” Naturally, the antivaccine cranks piled on, attacking Kalichman, the Gates Foundation, and vaccines in general, as though keeping an eye on antivaccine activity on the Internet were a bad thing.

It’s not, of course. It’s what I do, among other things, with my blogging time. I wonder if I can persuade the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to lay some money on me.

So why do I feel for Kalichman? Because he seems to have attracted the attention of an antivaccine activist named Louis Conte, who posted his whine about Kalichman’s not having responded to his e-mails on the antivaccine propaganda blog, Age of Autism entitled UConn’s Seth Kalichman Funded By Gates Foundation To Surveil So Called Anti-Vaccine Citizens. All I can say to Conte is: You say that as though it were a bad thing. Basically, Conte’s post consists of an extended whine about how Kalichman ignored three e-mails; well, that and how it was supposedly so very, very mean of Kalichman not to respond to Conte’s plaintive pleas for contact.

Actually, it’s more than just whining about being ignored. Conte also views Kalichman’s whole project as some sort of unjust persecution. He begins by describing his job as a Community Corrections officer; i.e., a parole or probation officer. After extolling the virtues of the legal system, in which the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty, he then makes this analogy:

It seems that there is a new concept of “Community Corrections.” Apparently, I am a member of a community of people that needs to be corrected. That community is made up of people who ask questions about vaccines safety, who ask questions about the nation’s vaccine program or who ask if some cases of autism are the result of vaccine injuries. Ask any of these questions, and you are guilty of being “anti-vaccine.”

It seems that I am guilty. I confess that I have asked questions like that.

And:

And yet, it seems that I am about to placed under surveillance, along with all the other people who have asked vaccine questions. If I write something questioning vaccine safety (maybe even something like what I doing now), I may well find myself in the cross hairs of an Internet surveillance program funded by one of the richest men on earth – Bill Gates.

I’m guessing that Bill Gates is completely unaware that Louis Conte even exists and that, even if he did, he wouldn’t really care. What he does care about these days is public health and using his great wealth in order to make the world a better place. Conte seems to think that Gates is setting up a system to nail him for his expression of antivaccine beliefs:

So Dr. Kalichman intends to monitor people like us and quickly report his findings back to some unidentified entity (Bill Gates?) and then do stuff (we don’t know what) in response. Dr. Kalichman does not have to run his activities by a judge, as professionals involved in real community corrections do. He doesn’t even have to really define who he is monitoring and who he will direct his counter measures on. Apply the label, conduct surveillance, report back (rapidly) to Bill (I guess) and then do something to or about those people.

Oooh. There it is, the paranoid belief that Bill will personally “do something” about him or, even worse, to him for his antivaccine beliefs. Somehow, Conte gets this from the description of the project, which, recall, says “establish an internet-based global monitoring and rapid alert system for finding, analyzing, and counteracting misinformation communication campaigns regarding vaccines to support global immunization efforts.” I don’t know about you, but the way I interpret this is that the system will be used to identify vaccine misinformation and facilitate responding to it. Wow! Fascism! How nefarious can you get?

Particularly amusing is how little self-awareness Conte has. He writes this next passage, completely without irony:

If you look Dr. Kalichman up on the Internet, you will see that he is concerned about the spread of AIDS around the world and has written a book about that issue. He is also donating any profits from the sale of the book to help fight AIDS. Dr. Kalichman has some interesting thoughts about some people who question the scientific consensus that AIDS is caused by a virus. I don’t know if he equates those people with people he considers to be “anti-vaccine.”

I don’t know because he didn’t answer my emails.

As I said, oh, the irony! Antivaccinationists are very much like HIV/AIDS denialists in many, many ways, including the invocation of pseudoscience, the paranoia, the attacks on conventional science, the conspiracy mongering, and the general antiscience attitude. Why does Conte think that Kalichman’s become interested in identifying and countering antivaccine misinformation? Why does he think I’m interested in countering antivaccine misinformation? I’m a skeptic, and I’m interested in countering quackery, medical pseudoscience, as well as creationism, Holocaust denial, 9/11 Truth conspiracies, and even perpetual motion machines. They all use very similar bad arguments, abuses of science, and logical fallacies to advance their point of view. Yes, antivaccinationists are very much like HIV/AIDS denialists, and Conte himself is a perfect example of that. We’ve seen co-authoring with Mary Holland, Robert Krakow, and Lisa Colin an execrable “analysis” of Vaccine Court claims that they tried—and failed—to represent as “proof” that the government has conceded that vaccines cause autism. Truly, it was a deceptively pseudoscience- and fallacy-laden pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys. Also emblematic of Conte’s lack of self-awareness is his accusation that Kalichman is violating academic ethics. After all, Conte’s law review paper was arguably highly unethical in that he and his coinvestigators never got IRB approval for a study that should have been approved and monitored by an IRB.

All of which brings me to another common trait among cranks. They love to invoke freedom of speech. Now there’s nothing wrong with that per se, as much as a disagree with and am alarmed by their use of freedom of speech. If there’s one value I’ve promoted time and time again, it’s freedom of speech, even to the point of being steadfastly opposed to hate speech laws. However, they seem not to understand that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech or, even more basically, freedom from criticism. To Conte, as is the case with many cranks, monitoring and countering his misinformation is not just something he disagrees with, but it’s the equivalent of suppression of that speech—or even persecution. That’s right. Because Kalichman is keeping an eye on antivaccine misinformation on the Internet in order to respond to it means to Conte that the jackboots will be kicking at his door soon. In his fantasy world, they’ll probably have the Microsoft logo on their soles, too. Meanwhile, because the vast majority of what I do on this blog is to monitor websites and blogs and then respond to pseudoscience, quackery, and misinformation, I’m guessing that Conte would probably consider me to be in league with Kalichman. Her’s a hint. Monitoring something you write in public and post to public websites and blogs meant to be seen by everyone is not the same thing as “surveillance” as represented by Conte.

No wonder Kalichman didn’t answer Conte’s e-mails. I wouldn’t have answered them either. Almost every time I succumb to the temptation to respond to a crank I end up regretting it.

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    October 9, 2012

    So, reading people’s blogs = surveillance? Hmmm…

  2. #2 Lawrence
    October 9, 2012

    @Orac – I saw that at AoA yesterday & was highly amused (also highly amused that I’ve joined the ranks of becoming an AoA catch-all term for “trolls” i.e. one of the “Lawrence’s”).

    So, they are upset that someone would establish a means for tracking anti-vaccine rhetoric on the Internet & allow for faster, fact & evidence-base responses to debunk the lies, misinformation, and distortions that are part & parcel of the anti-vaccine movement?

    How about Anne Daschel’s spam-bombing of any pro-vaccine article that gets written? She seems to have developed her own system for quickly deploying her standard trope of crap every time something is posted she doesn’t like…..

    Freedom of speech works both ways – and people at AoA are loath to admit it.

  3. #3 herr doktor bimler
    October 9, 2012

    he didn’t answer my emails.
    The one thing worse than someone paying attention to one’s opinions is someone not paying attention to one’s opinions.

  4. #4 Krebiozen
    October 9, 2012

    Every time I feel concerned about the antivaccine movement, I remember Wakefield’s gun shelter / shed, and smile quietly to myself.

  5. #5 MikeMa
    October 9, 2012

    Paranoia, stupidity and irony go so well together like a BLT.

    It doesn’t help that loons like Conte live in a protective bubble where negative comments are rarely entertained. The real world doesn’t treat their idiocy kindly and they have developed very thin skins as a result.

  6. #6 Anj
    October 9, 2012

    Lawrence,

    I wondered who this threatening Troll (sic) was. You?

    ;)

    BTW – don’t most people refer to “trolls” instead of “Trolls”? It makes them sound like somehow important.

  7. #7 palindrom
    October 9, 2012

    “However, they seem not to understand that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech or, even more basically, freedom from criticism. ”

    They never do understand that, Orac. They never do.

  8. #8 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 9, 2012

    How about Anne Daschel’s spam-bombing of any pro-vaccine article that gets written? She seems to have developed her own system for quickly deploying her standard trope of crap every time something is posted she doesn’t like…..

    @ Lawrence, it’s because they are projecting. They are aware of their own activities so assume that those that oppose them are operating in the same manner.

  9. #9 Anj
    October 9, 2012

    I think we need to hereby refer to spamming online articles without responding to replies as “daschelling”.

    It’s probably not a unique MO, but the compulsion to spam the comment section once and never return to respond is not common.

  10. #10 Lawrence
    October 9, 2012

    @Anj – I find it funny that I struck such a nerve, given that only one of my comments was let through (for some reason, they seem to think I’ve been all over AoA – when I can count my un-moderated comments on one hand).

    They still think I’m either Brian Deer himself or someone in his employ, I guess. Like BD would care what the folks at AoA have to say about anything – since the facts already speak for themselves (regardless of what Anne Dachel or John Stone would like to think).

  11. #11 Dangerous Bacon
    October 9, 2012

    It’s weird but not unexpected to see antivaxers worrying about the consequences of having their Internet idiocy “surveilled”. These are the same people who either use underhanded tactics against critics (harassing them at work, conducting bogus “outing” campaigns against pro-vaccine advocates who post under pseudonyms), gloating over such abuses or refusing to disavow them.

    In this instance all antivaxers need concern themselves with is posting reasoned, factual information about their concerns, and Dr. Kalichman will have nothing to correct. Of course, that also means they will have virtually nothing to say. :(

  12. #12 JKW
    Danville, Tri-state area
    October 9, 2012

    Evolution labs get it big time. We have gotten several about our work unleashing the beast. They usually read like a mad libs. About this correction worker – he appears close to the line that was crossed by that U of Mich lawyer who stalked the young man on student council because he was gay.

  13. #13 Marry Me, Mindy
    October 9, 2012

    What in the blazes does Bill Gates have to do with “free speech”?

    Free speech means the government cannot punish you for what you say. Bill Gates is a private citizen and is using his own money.

    It’s not a free speech issue at all.

  14. #14 Mary
    October 9, 2012

    Did you see the recent article on the free speech deal: “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion”. It was making the rounds on twitter recently among skeptics.

    http://theconversation.edu.au/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978

  15. #15 Beamup
    October 9, 2012

    @ Mary:

    That really has nothing at all to do with free speech. It’s really just pointing out that some things labelled as “opinions” are Just Plain Wrong.

  16. #16 Eric Lund
    October 9, 2012

    MMM @1005: Not only that, Bill Gates is not actually trying to punish anybody for their speech. He is merely funding an effort to note that somebody (and it’s not clear whether they care who) is making some easily falsifiable statement about vaccines, and to formulate a response to that statement if one has not already been formulated.

    There are also a few exceptions to the principle that the government cannot punish you for what you say. Making a credible threat of violence against someone is against the law. Using the US Mail to transmit any threat of violence (credible or not) to another person is a Federal offense. Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater (when no fire exists) is not protected speech. Making statements in court that you know (or should know) to be false is illegal. But these exceptions do not apply here.

  17. #17 LC.
    October 9, 2012

    @Marry Me, Mindy

    ‘Free Speech’ (as they define it) is also a very Americian thing – a large chunk of the rest of the planet doesn’t have ‘the inaeliable right to…blah blah”. Eg: Meryl Dorey vs the HCCC in Aust.

    But in any case, since Billgatron has more money than the enitre lifetimes income of the AoA membersip combined, they cant do squat but whine (and ironically probably using Windows + Explorer to do it).

  18. #18 Edith Prickly
    October 9, 2012

    It seems that there is a new concept of “Community Corrections.” Apparently, I am a member of a community of people that needs to be corrected.

    Yes, you are. If you don’t want people correcting your ill-informed ravings. stop posting them on the Internet.

    Gotta love the cognitive dissonance on display here too. Conte can’t make up his mind whether he wants Dr. Kalichman’s attention (answer my e-mails!!) or not (stop persecuting me with your eeeee-vil surveillance campaign!!)

  19. #19 Denice Walter
    October 9, 2012

    I imagine that Prof K has learned to ignore much more than e-mails.

    I’m sure that once AoA starts digging they will find some very intriguing information about Seth:

    he had the audacity to create a pseudo-nym ( Joe Newton) in order to observe hiv/aids denialists in their native habitat and converse with them ( reported in his book).
    he supports charities that assist hiv patients in Africa.
    he has recieved other grants for research
    and he knows many interesting and diverse individuals, including his supporters who are strong advocates for SBM.

    If a person @ AoA ( ahem!) were to trace and diagramme Seth’s ‘connections’ I venture that somehow most of the sceptic movement would somehow be implicated. You might be surprised who would turn up.
    Seth is the lynch pin: why do you think Gates rewards him?
    ( Perhaps Orac is next).

    A couple notes:
    I do believe that several of the folks listed above- Holland, Krakow and Conte are lawyers: they certainly seem to be popular with the alt med crowd. Conte has a child on the spectrum.

    Kalichman has been frequently verbally assaulted by denialists ( on his blog and probably other places as well)- this has included despicably, vehement anti-Semitism, which he had dealt with admirably and usually, wittily; he has also endured the clumsy ministrations of the web woo-meisters broadcast via Alt Media:

    I feel badly that whole NEW sets of denialists will be carrying on about him.

    -btw- Dunc: I like that! Maybe I’ll call myself a *surveillor*.

  20. #20 Ren
    Not At An Abortion Clinic, That's For Damn Sure
    October 9, 2012

    I drove up to my other job on Sunday to see a horde of anti-abortionists protesting our facility. They had the usual placards of misinformation. (Abortion causes psychosis, don’t you know?) And they had the usual pictures of aborted fetuses for everyone to lose their lunch over.

    Needless to say, the facility where I work once in a while on the weekends doesn’t do abortions. I work at a clinical lab, for crying out loud! Someone had given this group bad information, and they all went out en masse to protest and say some very mean things about us.

    I’m sure the local soup kitchen or library or home for children with cancer all told them, “No, no, we’re good. We have enough volunteers. Go ahead and go protest some place based on misinformation.”

    If the anti-vaxers have nothing better to do than to try to get us fired (yes, us, because it’s happened twice for me), then that keeps them from their primary intent of bringing public health to its knees. So, yeah, bring it.

  21. #21 AllieP
    October 9, 2012

    I really love the idea that this oh-so-evil “surveillance” amounts to…. reading public blogs, websites, and press releases. Otherwise known as doing exactly what the aggrieved “surveilled” *want* you to do with the information they put out? It’s just a method of getting things organized so the counter-information can be nice and neat and not hydra-head-hacking.

    The problem is, for conspiracy theorists, they DON’T want the truth out, they don’t want a dedicated and organized effort at arguing with this misinformation, otherwise, they wouldn’t be deleting all naysayers on their sites to begin with.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    October 9, 2012

    OT: but are anti-vax antics ever TRULY OT @ RI, I ask you ?

    Today @ AoA, one of the faithful presents her impression of a talk by a certain Mr D.**
    It’s very interesting how- amidst her invective demeaning his character and abilities- she admixes superficial insults that any reasonably intelligent adolescent girl would probably eschew
    Can’t these people do any better than that? If you’re over 40, I’d think that you might have upped your game a bit since the days of your girlhood.

    ** not THAT Mr D- Rolling Stones’ fans
    or the OTHER Mr D , RI minions of Pharma.COM.

  23. #23 lilady
    October 9, 2012

    Ex-cop, “private investigator” Lou Conte was one of the “science investigators” on that notorious EBCALA study…which did NOT have an IRB approval from Pace University. He actually reviewed patient records…as part of the “research team”…without any qualifications.

    I believe this is Mr. Conte’s wife, who provides some insight into the IV chelation that she and Louis Conte are inflicting on their two sons with autism.

    http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/healthteam/story/3385728/

  24. #24 Marion Delgado
    October 9, 2012

    As a not-at-all-public-or-prominent defender of science, I have personally been asked several dozen times by anti-science people for as many details as they could get about me, and called a “coward” for not providing them. Stymied by my non-cooperation, about a dozen have let me know they were searching for anything they could get about me on the internet and poring over it all. Moreover, this was coupled with fairly creepy comments and discussion.

    And that’s for a non-public (heck, I even basically gave up blogging, and that only on a very hit-and-miss basis years ago) non-prominent person. You can extrapolate to what people with a serious public profile experience. In their case, it’s possible, and much easier, for people to get their stalking info via the internet. That said, the less you engage with them, and the less you give them for free, the more drastically you reduce the harrasing population.

    There is a silver lining – if enough of the next generations – the Ys, Zs, whatever – experience the merits of even belated privacy, they may start to value it again. Obviously, I’m on the support-for-pseudonymity-over-a-dubious-professed-concern-for-civility side of the anonymity and pseudonymity discussion.

    One other point: wherever possible, it’s a good idea to pick a comprehensive site that’s more-or-less accurate and with a large number of refutations of common talking points, and basically say “that’s a standard #14, I direct this person and anyone watching to xxx.yyy/whatever#14 and if you have an answer to that, go ahead.” Makes it less personal and therefore is less attentive and feeds their emotional energy less.

  25. #25 Shay
    October 9, 2012

    I have noticed in any argument with single-minded idiots (on topics such as gun control, the American Civil War*, abortion, etc), they are the first to scream that their First Amendment rights are being violated whenever anyone disagrees with them.

    As some TV judge or other once put it “Sticky thing, that Constitution It cuts both ways.”

    (Anyone who claims membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans should be avoided like the plague. Trust me on this one).

  26. #26 lilady
    October 9, 2012

    Getting back to Mr. Kalichman’s grant “to monitor” the activities of anti-vaccine internet websites; I’ve been doing that for a few years now, just by slumming (lurking) at AoA.

    Here’s a post from Anne Dachel a.k.a. the “Dachel bot”, where she alerted her readers to a blog from the San Francisco Chronicle and “bragged” how she spammed the blog:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/09/parents-can-not-sue-vaccine-manufacturers-for-injury.html

    So, I went over to the San Francisco Chronicle blog and posted there (expand the comments).

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/09/parents-can-not-sue-vaccine-manufacturers-for-injury.html

    Notice how many of the comments were “blocked”? *Someone* must have notified the San Francisco Chronicle about the “Dachel bot’s” spamming activities.

  27. #27 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 9, 2012

    Can’t these people do any better than that? If you’re over 40, I’d think that you might have upped your game a bit since the days of your girlhood.

    ‘Fraid not DW. I don’t think I need to tell you what anger and bitterness these people wallow in. No more are they being called upon for media attention. No more are they paid any mind by funding and other government agencies to investigate their raison d’être. And they are watching their luminaries and icons get slapped with much-deserved sanctions and revoked medical licenses. Why I do believe that a couple are going to have to head to some second-world destination to ply their trade and one has been relegated to appearances in park sheds.

  28. #28 Matt Carey
    October 9, 2012

    lilady,

    I believe the survey they put out for the PACE study is clearly human studies research. They didn’t even ask for IRB approval, from what I can tell.

    “he had the audacity to create a pseudo-nym…”

    That’s likely to gather criticism. There are still criticisms levied against Mr. Deer for using the name “Brian Lawrence” in an interview.

    It is worth recalling that Mr. Olmsted’s former journalism partner went under cover and lied in order to get information for one of his series:

    http://www.salon.com/2005/07/19/gaytherapy/

    I believe this is the same Mark Benjamin who was Mr. Olmsted’s work partner.

  29. #29 Roadstergal
    Yay Area, CA
    October 9, 2012

    And the anti-science loons who come here look down on people who use (even thinly veiled) nomes de plume (sp?). The anti-science brigade can be quite assertive, as has been mentioned here in the past, with their efforts to harass science folk and try to get them fired. Hell, the pro-science folk haven’t tried to get even that highly mis-cast ‘science’ teacher in CA fired.

    If you look Dr. Kalichman up on the Internet, you will see that he is concerned about the spread of AIDS around the world and has written a book about that issue. He is also donating any profits from the sale of the book to help fight AIDS.

    It takes a truly special bunch of people to see that as nefarious. Good god.

  30. #30 lilady
    October 9, 2012

    @ Matt Carey:

    I didn’t post that comment about the use of pseudonyms.

    “It is worth recalling that Mr. Olmsted’s former journalism partner went under cover and lied in order to get information for one of his series:

    http://www.salon.com/2005/07/19/gaytherapy/

    I believe this is the same Mark Benjamin who was Mr. Olmsted’s work partner.”

    You are correct Matt. Here’s where Olmsted, the former UPI reporter brags about his work with Mark Benjamin…

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/06/a-decade-after-murder-suicides-d-day-for-the-agent-orange-of-our-generation.html

    “….I remember the phone call vividly.

    It was a Friday in summer 2002, and I was at work at the UPI office in Washington, waiting to have dinner with a former White House reporter, Mark Kukis. A friend called and told me to turn on the ABC evening news. I watched Peter Jennings talk about a cluster of murder-suicides at Fort Bragg involving soldiers who had been in Afghanistan. Jennings asked, Was there something about this new war on terror – no front lines, no sure signs of victory, no end in sight – that was triggering violence and despair in the nation’s best soldiers? Such violence among elite troops, trained to conquer the worst kinds of stress, and even torture, was all but unheard of.

    My friend knew that, with my UPI colleague Mark Benjamin, I’d been working on an investigation of violent and deadly side effects from the anti-malaria drug Lariam. Less than a month before the Nieves deaths, we published a long article connecting the drug with suicide and other violent and bizarre behavior, based on hundreds of pages of internal drug company safety reports we’d gotten our hands on…..”

  31. #31 Bronze Dog
    October 9, 2012

    As a not-at-all-public-or-prominent defender of science, I have personally been asked several dozen times by anti-science people for as many details as they could get about me, and called a “coward” for not providing them. Stymied by my non-cooperation, about a dozen have let me know they were searching for anything they could get about me on the internet and poring over it all. Moreover, this was coupled with fairly creepy comments and discussion.

    I’ve experienced something similar, though I’m glad he was inept to the point I was able to laugh. A racist crank was so desperate to ad hominem me, he kept making up stuff out of nowhere. Apparently I’m a girly gay black Mexican illegal immigrant Jew suffering from white guilt on welfare.

  32. #32 Matt Carey
    October 9, 2012

    “I didn’t post that comment about the use of pseudonyms.”

    Sorry about that–I meant to go back and put something point back to Denise Walter’s comment. Thanks for the correction.

    I’ll note that Mr. Benjamin is still a journalist. He’s done some good work.

  33. #33 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 9, 2012

    One of the reasons why I have a pseudonym for posting in most places – it stymies the ability of stalkers.

    People who need to get a hold of me KNOW how to get a hold of me.

  34. #34 Matt Carey
    October 9, 2012

    I have to point out–Mr Conte downplays AIDS denialism as

    “Dr. Kalichman has some interesting thoughts about some people who question the scientific consensus that AIDS is caused by a virus.”

    People who “question the scientific consensus that AIDS is caused by a virus”? “Interesting thoughts”?!?

    HIV causes AIDS. Mr. Conte would do well to distance himself and his cause from AIDS denialists. It isn’t an “interesting thought” to expose and condemn those who are causing problems in places like South Africa with AIDS denialism.

    Mr. Conte had a great opportunity here to make strong statements like, “Prof. Kalichman seems to see us as a similar movement to AIDS denialism. Let me make this clear–we are nothing like those groups”. He didn’t. Instead he accepts AIDS denialists as a group similar to his own.

    Of course, the obvious point in this is, “If you aren’t anti-vaccine, he isn’t talking about you, is he, Mr. Conte?” Instead he claims that the Age of Autism blog is basically a one stop shop for monitoring the anti-vaccine movement.

    Ironically, he’s giving an empty boast at the same time as trying to claim he isn’t anti-vaccine. Bad as the Age of Autism is, it is not the beginning and the end of vaccine misinformation.

  35. #35 Lawrence
    October 9, 2012

    @Matt – I’m always surprised that these wacko groups can’t ever seem to get up the courage to complain about or distance themselves from the incredibly wacko groups…..it must be some kind of mental block.

  36. #36 Liz Ditz
    Goin' cowboyin' (or girlin', actually)
    October 9, 2012

    Louis Conte…that name rang a bell. He’s a board member at the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law & Advocacy (EBCALA). I don’t think he’s a lawyer:

    is the father of triplet boys, two with autism. He is the Director of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Justice Project and a founding advocate member of EBCALA. He serves on the board of the Autism Action Network. Mr. Conte has advocated extensively in New York for autism health insurance reform, vaccination choice and improved educational services for people with autism. In his professional life, Mr. Conte is an Assistant Commissioner in the Westchester County Department of Probation where he has administered investigation and supervision programs that focus on sex offenders and domestic violence perpetrators. He is proud to have been part of a team that established the nation’s first Sex Offense Court. Mr. Conte graduated from Iona College in 1982. He is an instructor in the Japanese Martial Art of Ju Jitsu.

  37. #37 Narad
    October 9, 2012

    supervision programs that focus on sex offenders and domestic violence perpetrators

    Wait, these aren’t consequences of vaccination?

  38. #38 Matt Carey
    October 9, 2012

    Lawrence,

    there is the “circle the wagons” mentality apparent in many of these actions.

    Why doesn’t anyone at AutismOne stand up and say, “You know, Mark, this time you really are speaking nonsense. Dangerous nonsense. Please stop before you apply this to more disabled children”. or “Kerri, stop. Just stop. Bleach should not go there”.

    A real scientific conference would have people criticizing work. There would be questions that address the real scientific deficiencies apparent in the talks. This is where Andrew Wakefield shows himself to be more of a “headliner” (as Mr. Deer, I believe characterized him) rather than a leader. He could have slowed or stopped some of the more obviously nonsense practices. Instead he lends his name to the convention, effectively adding support to the junk science beyond his own, collects his check and goes home. Not a leader in any sense of the word.

  39. #39 Denice Walter
    October 9, 2012

    @ Science Mom:

    I hope you discern that I actually hold my tongue when writing about these advocates; because my own area of expertise involves the intersection of cognition, developmental and clinical psych ( including how people write and speak), you might imagine what I REALLY think and merely hint at. I point to articles so others might see for themselves.

    @ Roadstergal:

    It’s *nom de plume* and yes I ( sort of) use one.
    I leave off my second ( totally posh) surname and because it’s also a guy’s first name, I thought about being “Walter ‘Howard’” ( or “‘Howard’ Walter”) on the ‘net.
    People – including interviewers- do this to protect themselves from bias as well as retribution .

  40. #40 Denice Walter
    October 9, 2012

    @ Liz:

    My typo, it should have read: and COLIN.

  41. #41 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 9, 2012

    I hope you discern that I actually hold my tongue when writing about these advocates;

    But of course; your discretion is admirable but perhaps not as fun and cathartic. :D

  42. #42 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 9, 2012

    Apropos of nothing It’s also nom de guerre.

  43. #43 herr doktor bimler
    October 9, 2012

    Except when discussing dairy products and vitamin-D deficiency, in which case it’s nom de beurre.

  44. #44 Shay
    October 9, 2012

    Or when dressing up garden figurines in little camouflage utility uniforms, in which case it’s gnome de guerre.

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    October 9, 2012

    @ Matt Carey:
    @ Lawrence:

    Mr Conte and others need to be careful when discussing far-out alt med ideas – like hiv/aids denialism- if they criticise Duesberg – who is after all, a brave maverick challenging the consensus of SBM- well, they actually fall into the same category themselves- with a different bold iconoclast, AJW, leading them..

    Thus, they feel a kinship perhaps or the warm feeling engendered by the mechanations of crank magnetism. I look at the latter phenomenon this way: if your thinking process allows you to accept wide spread conspiracies about medicine and science in order to explain away consensus’ value, what you’ve applied to your opinions about in one area will also work for other areas. Why stop at one crazy idea? When you can have them all.

    Alt media is pushing the idea that ALL of SBM is irrevocably and intrinsically corrupt and ON ITS WAY OUT. To be replaced by spiritual, nature-based healing and life coaching.

  46. #46 Glaxxon PharmaCOM Terrabase DIA
    Moltin' and Revoltin'
    October 10, 2012

    MESSAGE BEGINS——————

    Shills and Minions,

    I am in mid-molt, itchy and more irritable than is usual. This Conte person is quite annoying. I don’t like being annoyed in the best of times. That’s why the Great Gates of the Silicon Demipentium is deploying the likes of Minion Kalichman to surveil these rebel scum. These denialists could ruin our evil plans for world dominion and population reduction and must be . . . watched. And mocked. Watched and mocked. And made fun of. They are to be watched, mocked, made fun of and . . . oh by the Battleclaw of K’throbey! The itching! I clearly require more Silk-e-Skalez™ molting salve at once . . . and a treat. Where is my treat?I SAID GET M

    ••••••••AUDIX FAILURE—TRANSMISSION LOST•••••••

    Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    —————————–MESSAGE ENDS

  47. #47 Lara Lohne (AKA: Venna)
    Waiting for sleep that may never come tonight
    October 10, 2012

    This reminds me of a time, when in 9th grade and withdrawn from school due to a measles outbreak, a group of anti-vaccine parents tried to sue the county for violating their rights by removing their children from public school that their tax dollars help to fund. They were claim discrimination. One of the most ‘influential’ parents, had four children elementary through high school, who were all removed due to no immunizations, and when he told them they had all had measles, refused to have them undergo immunity testing to verify. He was completely and totally offended that they didn’t take his word for it. Being 13 years old, I asked my mom, “If his kids have had measles then they are already immune. Why doesn’t he just let them be testing so they can go back to school?” She then told me that they hadn’t really had measles, but that was beside the point. That it was the principal of the thing that was the problem, not the child’s immune status. That was when I started to realize that anti-vaccinationists are liars, they know they are liars and get offended when you challenge their lies but try and claim their defensiveness is because of something else entirely. Persecution complex much?

  48. #48 alison
    searching for crickets
    October 11, 2012

    Fellow shills & minions, may I advise an urgent search for cricket sprinkles? I am reliably I formed that His Scaliness is partial to them, & from the tone of his message we could be advised to satisfy that partiality.

  49. #49 alison
    still looking...
    October 11, 2012

    stupid iPad – for “I formed” read “informed”. I add my voice to the cries for a preview function :(

  50. #50 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    October 11, 2012

    cricket sprinkles

    Did you mean to say cricketer sprinkles? Because that’s what I’m thinking our Imperial Leader would prefer.

  51. #51 alison
    still haven't found any
    October 11, 2012

    He did say “cricket” sprinkles… I offered him our national cricket team, just in case, but have yet to hear his Lordship’s opinion on that one.

  52. #52 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 12, 2012

    Chocolate covered cricket sprinkles?

    Yeesh. That’s something Anthony Bourdain has tried, I’m sure. I’m going to pass on that one.

  53. #53 JGC
    October 12, 2012

    When discussing edible delights (like chocolate cricket sprinkles) it becomes a nom de nom nom nom…

  54. #54 Scottynuke
    October 12, 2012

    And if one’s discussing meditation anonymously, one must have a nom de om

  55. #55 Scottynuke
    October 12, 2012

    Or would that be nom de ommmmmm?

  56. #56 Denice Walter
    October 12, 2012

    @ Alison:
    @Science Mom:

    I am sure that his Lordship is presently *very* busy plotting inter-galactic takeovers or his next Sunday brunch, so I’ll fill you in with some of my own observations:

    he likes cricketers and fooballers alike however because he is currently esconced in the tunnels beneath the Denver International Airport** ( ghastly place -btw-)- there are many other fine specimens of sporty manliness around to suit his gastronomic eclectism: not only are there several professionals sports teams but it is near the mountains, where the lean and stringy hikers and climbers abound; also the herb-infused snowboarders are plentiful and much more juicy than the skiers. Or so I’m told.

    You might ask : “What no female dishes?” Fortunately for us, not so much. I think estrogen and progestrogen must taste funny. Lucky for us.
    However, once at his hdqtrs I was offered tea and ‘lady fingers’ and I doubt that they were *savoiardi*- I declined naturally.

    Sincerely,
    DW

    ** google Denver Internationall Airport conspiracies/ Denver International Airport p#nis and you will understand his many references to the place.

  57. #57 Narad
    October 12, 2012

    Or would that be nom de ommmmmm?

    Now, now. It’s a nom mani padme hum.

  58. #58 herr doktor bimler
    October 12, 2012

    As opposed to Zom mani padme NOM.

  59. #59 Infuriatingly Moderate
    October 13, 2012

    @Herr Doktor Bimler: STOP MESSING WITH MY HEAD!

    Oh, wait, I voluntarily read this thread, and voluntarily click on links, etc. etc. on the interwebs…..

  60. #60 Seth Kalichman
    Connecticut
    October 15, 2012

    Who is Louis Conte and what emails is he talking about?
    I suppose he may have written me. I get so much hate mail from AIDS Deniers I have become numb. I must have figured he was one of them. Easy mistake to make. So now I wonder what he wanted? Probably not to congratulate me on my new line of work.
    Let me just take this opportunity to remind everyone that it is October and flu season is upon us. Don’t forget your flu shot.

  61. #61 lilady
    October 15, 2012

    @ Seth Kalichman

    “Who is Louis Conte and what emails is he talking about?”

    Short answer: He’s an ex-cop who was the *chief investigator* on the Pace Law School *study* of kids who were compensated for injuries they sustained from vaccines. Conte has no experience and no medical credentials to investigate the medical records of these children.

    The Pace *study* was discussed here,

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/05/11/another-swing-for-the-fences-and-a-miss/

    and here,

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/05/24/anti-vaccine-warriors-vs-research-ethics/

    I got my seasonal influenza vaccine four weeks ago. :-)

  62. #62 Paul
    October 24, 2012

    Good writeup

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