Respectful Insolence

And now for something completely different.

There was a time when, as a blogger, I would have been instantly aware of an incident like the one I’m about to discuss, instantly aware of it and all over it within a day. That it’s been a few days since this happened, and I remained blissfully unaware of it until yesterday tells me how much I’ve changed as a blogger since my early days. Sure, some things haven’t changed much, as anyone who reads my first post cum manifesto can see if he goes back and reads it, such as the subject matter of this blog and my commitment to science and science-based medicine. However, other things have changed. For one thing, believe it or not, I’ve mellowed. When I go back and read some of my earlier posts, I’m surprised at the level of…Insolence. There’s another change, besides my increasing specialization in writing about science-based medicine more and about other sciences, such as evolution, less. Back in the day, I used to relish a blog fight. Sure, sometimes I’ll occasionally let loose on idiots like Vox Day, but not with anywhere the frequency or intensity as in the old days. Whether this represents a maturing or mellowing (or both), I don’t know, but I do know, as I sit here and gaze at my navel, that I’m not the same blogger I was nine years ago.

Still, there must be something of my old self left, because when I heard about this incident it grabbed my interest to the point where I couldn’t blog about anything else today. I’m referring to pseudonymity. I’m referring to anonymity. I’m referring to the outing of the blogger known as Isis the Scientist by an editor of a major scientific journal in a petty act of revenge. It brought back memories of the days when maintaining my pseudonym meant a lot more to me than it does now, and the issue of remaining pseudonymous versus starting to blog under my own name was a big deal to me, a question that came up every now and then that I sometimes agonized over, when I genuinely feared being outed. Those days are long past, and I thought I knew exactly how Isis feels.

Isis, long time readers might remember, used to be part of the ScienceBlogs collective, where we rubbed elbows, blosopherically speaking, for around three or four years. Then Pepsigate happened, and lots of ScienceBloggers departed. Eventually Isis left about a year after the debacle. Whether the decimation of our ranks over that year had anything to do with it, I really don’t remember, but it’s quite likely that the takeover of the running of ScienceBlogs by National Geographic did. Whatever the reason for her departure, because I don’t read very many blogs anymore except in a targeted way (i.e., Google search-directed), I lost track of her, and I have no idea whether she read my blog anymore. Be that as it may, here’s what happened several days ago:

A couple days ago Henry Gee tweeted what he believes to be my real life identity. To address the elephant in the room, if such things are important to you, he was correct in his identification of me. But, really, what Henry did required only high school level sleuthing. Any amateur with a Cracker Jack decoder ring could have figured it out, largely because my pseud has eroded as you all have become a more important part of my life.

Who is Henry Gee? He’s only the the editor of one of the two highest impact science journals in the world, Nature. Apparently Gee and Isis had been having a bit of a feud. I knew nothing about this, and still know relatively little, having only pieced it together reading other blog posts on the incident. It doesn’t really matter, really. It justifies nothing, although apparently Gee thought it did. This is the Tweet in which he outed Isis:

DrIsis

Clearly, Henry Gee is a major douche. Not only did he intentionally out Isis, but he dismissed her as an “inconsequential sports physiologist.” Moreover, as Michael Eisen notes, this was not a casual attack. It was a deliberate move designed to silence her. It most likely won’t work, but the intent was very, very clear. I’ve been at the receiving end of people with such intent on multiple occasions; so I recognized it right away. Virtually the only—I repeat, only—reason people “out” pseudonymous bloggers is to try to intimidate them into silence. Sure, they’ll make up all sorts of justifications. Some will even sound noble on the surface. However, at the heart of any outing is a desire to intimidate, and this one is no exception. However, when it comes to Henry Gee, there’s no way for him to pretend that his outing Isis was about nothing more than guaranteeing that misogynist hordes would descend upon her.

All of this goes to the heart of pseudonymity on the Internet. Lots of people on blogs and Twitter post what they post under a pseudonym. It’s important here to distinguish between pseudonymous posting and anonymous posting. I post under a pseudonym, but my real identity is arguably the worst kept secret in the blogosphere. It’s so poorly kept that you can find my real name right here on this very blog if you so desire and know where to look, and only the most incompetent Googler would fail to identify me if he put even the ost minimum effort into the task. However, it was not always thus. When I first started out, I was both pseudonymous (in that I wrote under a name not my own) and anonymous in that no one knew who I really was.

I had several reasons to start out anonymously. At the time, I was an assistant professor without much experience. True, I was a breast cancer surgeon and a scientist, which accorded me some status, but I really didn’t know whether my then bosses would understand or accept my blogging. At the time, there were relatively few physicians blogging, and, to the best of my knowledge, no surgeon-scientists blogging, much less as prolifically as I did. So I chose to try to remain anonymous.

That phase of my blogging career didn’t last very long. Within six months of my starting the original incarnation of my blog, a cancer quack by the name of William P. O’Neill, incensed that I had linked to Australian skeptic Peter Bowditch’s Anus Maximus Award, dug into my identity. Part of this was my fault in that I didn’t really select the most “bulletproof” pseudonym. It was an alias I had used on Usenet (look it up, kids) in the past, and there existed some very early posts in my Usenet tenure (from the late 1990s!) that linked the pseudonym to the real name. So O’Neill must have found one of those posts. He tracked me down to my job and, consistent with the purpose of “outing” any pseudonymous blogger, immediately put the information to use to try to intimidate me to silence, sending threats to me, my cancer center director, my department chair (who, alas, died suddenly a couple of years ago), and my division chief. I was terrified. I really was. Fortunately, I learned that none of them really cared, and, in fact, my department chair out and out called O’Neill a cowardly bully in a conversation we had at a departmental function.

A few months later, an antivaccine-sympathetic businessman named Pat Sullivan posted the first post outing me. Again, I was really disturbed by this development. Again, nothing bad happened. Things were fairly quiet on the pseudonym/outing front for the next couple of years, at least until the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism came into existence. Bloggers there made it a point to launch broadsides at me every so often, almost always with my real name in the title, the better to try to poison my Google reputation. Even our old friend Dr. Jay Gordon joined in, and, in fact, used to bemoan my use of a pseudonym. Yes, I was the Emily Willingham and Dorit Reiss of my day, Professor Reiss being the most popular target these days of the antivaccine movement, an accomplishment for which I offer my most sincere congratulations to her. It means she’s effective.

Over the years, like Isis, my anonymity degraded to the point where my pseudonym felt more like a pen name or a stage name, where everyone knew my real identity, than it did like any sort of actual protection. I cared less and less about the linking of Orac to my real name. Many were the times that I considered dropping the pseudonym altogether. I think I kept it out of sheer cussedness and Insolence, more than anything else. That, and I love the persona of Orac and being known by the name of a supercomputer featured on an obscure (in this country) British science fiction show popular over 30 years ago. So the ‘nym Orac stands, much like Gallifrey. Besides, I think it provides an air of mystery for antivaccinationists, cranks, and quacks to penetrate and then feel good about themselves when they do, amusing me in the process whenever a new one appears in the comments or in another blog trumpeting to the world my identity.

So why do I care about this enough to do all this uncharacteristic navel gazing after so long not visiting such topics? I think it’s because of the change in my attitudes towards certain aspects of pseudonymity. First, however, I should point out that I do understand the problems with pseudonymity and anonymity. People say things they wouldn’t normally say. They make attacks, thinking themselves immune to retaliation. They behave in ways that they would never behave in real life facing the person they’re attacking. Anonymous commenters can can infest comment threads and turn them into cesspits of nastiness, misogyny, and racism. Even here, periodically anonymous trolls will wander through and cause a comment thread to degenerate, mainly because I really dislike moderating and use only the lightest touch in doing so. On the other hand, there are several legitimate reasons a blogger might want to try to maintain anonymity, including one’s workplace frowning on blogging (the reason I chose at first to remain anonymous, not knowing at the time that I was mistaken about my workplace, which, while not supportive, was not hostile to blogging); you want to keep your blog distinct from your work (another reason I chose); you want to be judged on what you say, not who you are (another reason I chose); or you’re blogging about something that could bring attacks on you (a common reason).

There’s also another reason, described by Michael Eisen, after first noting that he’s also tangled with Isis:

If our conflicts had existed in the “real world” where I’m a reasonably well known, male tenured UC Berkeley professor and HHMI Investigator and she’s a young, female, Latina woman at the beginning of her research career, the deck is stacked against her. Whatever the forum, odds are I’m going to come out ahead, not because I’m right, but because that’s just the way this world works. And I think we can all agree that this is a very bad thing. This kind of power imbalance is toxic and distorting. It infuses every interaction. The worst part of it is obvious – it serves to keep people who start down, down. But it also gives people on the other side the false sense that they are right. It prevents them from learning and growing.

But when my interlocutor is anonymous, the balance of power shifts. Not completely. But it does shift. And it was enough, I think, to fundamentally change the way the conversations ended. And that was a good thing. I know I’m not going to convince many people that they should embrace this feeling of discomfort – this loss of power. But I hope, at least, people can appreciate why some amongst us feel so strongly about protecting this tool in their arsenal, and why what Gee did is more fundamental and reprehensible than the settling of a grudge.

That’s why Larry Moran is so clueless in his rejection of anonymity, dismissing it as toxic and attacking people who try to explain to him why his attitude is hopelessly out of touch, blithely dismissing pseudonymous bloggers by saying he doesn’t think he follows any blogger whose identity isn’t known to him, while pontificating on how he feels uneasy about not knowing a blogger’s name. One wonders if he follows me. Probably not. Be that as it may, he says he is “well aware of the fact that it’s a lot easier for a tenured professor to say this than for someone who is in a much more vulnerable position,” but then says he’s uncomfortable living in a society that “accepts the idea that you will be punished for your opinion and sets up ways of permitting people to say whatever they want without having to face any consequences.” Of course, this utterly misses the point. It’s not about not facing “any consequences.” It’s about not facing really bad consequences far out of proportion to the controversy of what they say. Meanwhile, Moran retreats to the excuse that he thinks that the contribution of pseudonymous bloggers is “being exaggerated and the downside of anonymity (pseudo-anonymity) is being ignored” without citing any evidence or examples, just his unsupported opinion while asking pseudonymous commenters, “Why do you hide behind a pseudonym?”

Moran also seems blissfully unaware of (or in denial about) one thing that I’ve only just come to realize over the last couple of years. There’s a significant difference between being a woman expressing her opinion and a man doing the same. Don’t get me wrong; being a man doesn’t somehow magically inoculate me from abuse. I have attacks published about me on a fairly regular basis. I’ve even had, on a couple of occasions, random death threats. Back in 2010, antivaccinationists tried to get me fired from my job through an e-mail and letter campaign to my university’s leadership and board of governors over a nonexistent “conflict of interest.” Fans of Stanislaw Burzynski have called my cancer center director to complain about me and one even called my state medical board to lodge a formal complaint against me. (It was promptly investigated and dismissed.)

However, as nasty as the attacks get against me, they pale in comparison to the sorts of misogynistic attacks that female bloggers suffer on a regular basis, the kinds of attacks Isis and others receive. I should have been more aware of this, given that I’ve blogged about such attacks before; for example, when Amy Wallace wrote an article critical of the antivaccine movement, and J.B. Handley implied that Paul Offit had slipped her a date rape drug. Indeed, Amy Wallace recently discussed these sorts of attacks against female journalists in the New York Times opinion piece. Amanda Hess wrote a similar article in which she described the experience of harassment directed at female journalists:

I dragged myself out of bed and opened my laptop. A few hours earlier, someone going by the username “headlessfemalepig” had sent me seven tweets. “I see you are physically not very attractive. Figured,” the first said. Then: “You suck a lot of drunk and drug fucked guys cocks.” As a female journalist who writes about sex (among other things), none of this feedback was particularly out of the ordinary. But this guy took it to another level: “I am 36 years old, I did 12 years for ‘manslaughter’, I killed a woman, like you, who decided to make fun of guys cocks.” And then: “Happy to say we live in the same state. Im looking you up, and when I find you, im going to rape you and remove your head.” There was more, but the final tweet summed it up: “You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this.”

I’ve suffered a lot of harassment because of my nine year mission to try to counter pseudoscience and misinformation. Like PZ, I’ve even “earned” a blog and a Facebook page whose sole purpose seems to be to attack me. Unfortunately, I remain disappointed that the cranks at AoA didn’t see fit to Photoshop me into the picture of the Thanksgiving celebration with Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and others who oppose the antivaccine movement preparing to feast on a baby. I’ve never had rape threats or speculation about my genitals (for example) directed at me, and the couple of death threats I received were not the least bit credible They were more along the lines of “I’m going to kill you,” without that level of detail and implied planning or harassment at my job. Female bloggers and journalists deal with what I deal with. They get the harassment at work, the personal attacks, the intentional poisoning of their Google reputations, all of which seem to increase exponentially with a blogger’s effectiveness in combatting pseudoscience and quackery. However, they also endure the added “bonus” of nasty sexualized verbal assaults day in and day out in addition to the usual run-of-the-mill attacks and harassment that cranks dish out.

All of this brings me back to my original point, with a twist. Cranks focus on the person more than the facts and science. Their first reaction to criticism is to attack the person. That’s why pseudonymous bloggers posting science-based deconstructions of their quackery drive them crazy. Because they can’t defend themselves based on science and facts, their first defense is to attack the person, often at work, in order to intimidate their critics into silence. Pseudonymity is an imperfect, but not ineffective, defense mechanism to make such attacks more difficult. Look, I get it. Isis could be kind of a jerk at times. So could I, and, to a lesser extent than in the past, I still can. So what? What Henry Gee did was not about what Isis wrote. Rather, it was about putting an “uppity” woman in her place by intimidating her into silence. The same sort of behavior is directed at men. I’ve experienced it. What I appreciate now that I didn’t appreciate then, even as recently as a year or two ago, is how much worse it is for women. Henry Gee was either oblivious or quite aware of the consequences of his action: Opening up Isis’ “meatspace” life to all the vicious misogynistic trolls that infest the Internet.

Comments

  1. #1 Rebecca Fisher
    January 23, 2014

    It appears Mr Gee has deleted his Twitter account.

  2. #2 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    Orac, I think I can speak for the RI Ladies to thank you for this excellent, sensitive post about “outing” a female blogger, by a man in a position of power. It is a vicious spiteful tactic designed to qwell any dissent and to put a younger less powerful woman in her place.

    Your personal stalker who posts on his blog as “gambolputty”, has employed the same libelous tactics against me on his own blog and has used another pseudonym (“Caro”) to post nasty libelous comments at me on the Ho-Po and on Seth Mnookin’s blog:

    http://blogs.plos.org/thepanicvirus/2012/03/26/bob-sears-bald-faced-liar-devious-dissembler-or-both/

    It’s downright disconcerting and threatening for any blogger to resort to “outing”…doubly so, when the victim of the outing is a woman.

  3. #3 herr doktor bimler
    January 23, 2014

    “inconsequential sports physiologist.”
    Snobbery and status anxiety, oh my!

    That’s why Larry Moran is so clueless in his rejection of anonymity, dismissing it as toxic
    How does he feel about anonymous peer reviewing?

  4. #4 meg
    January 23, 2014

    Lilady,

    I think you summed up what I’m thinking very well.

    It’s often extremely hard to make men realise just WHY some comment/remark etc is sexist. Which is probably why I find Michael Eisen’s comments very interesting.

    Honestly, there were other ways Gee could have responded to Isis’ tweet. He chose to act in a way that would open her to further attack from others. Seems a cowardly move to me.

  5. #5 Josephine Jones
    United Kingdom
    January 23, 2014

    Yes, as usual, I agree wholeheartedly with Orac.

    When I first started blogging, I was well aware that I didn’t know what I was getting into and felt very uneasy about posting personal information online. I would not have had the confidence to put myself out there. Although initially nobody was reading my blog or following my tweets, I am quite shy and quite cautious.

    As time went on, I became well aware of what I was getting into. Skeptical bloggers routinely receive intimidating threats (whether of lawsuits or of violence), abuse, complaints to employers, personal slurs and so on. Female bloggers routinely receive upsetting misogynistic abuse and personal insults.

    And it seems the more of an impact you have against quacks and their kind, the more likely you are to get attacked in this way. I have been accused of defamation while also being called fictitious – the implication being that if my identity were known, I would be sued. I’ve been called a pharmaceutical street walker and a whore and (don’t laugh, please) likened to Jimmy Savile, the Nazis and the KKK.

    The more information about us that is out there, the more ways there are to be attacked. When the whole Marc Stephens/Burzynski Streisand effect thing happened, I was acutely aware that in blogging Burzynski, I was opening myself up to vexatious libel threats by someone prepared to snoop into your private life and find out where you live in order to intimidate you.

    In my view, there are some problems with being pseudonymous – I want to be open with people, I don’t want to mislead or confuse anyone, I want people (quacks and cranks excepted, perhaps) to recognise me when we meet. I expect that for me, any anonymity I still have will gradually erode over time – unless someone wishing to intimidate me manages to do a bit of amateur detective work. It wouldn’t take much but it has eluded them so far. But ultimately, I feel that anyone maliciously outing a pseudonymous blogger makes themselves look worse for it.

  6. #6 MikeMa
    January 23, 2014

    I remember Isis from the Scienceblog days. I followed just a few names over there and sampled many others, including hers.

    I am sorry Gee sank so low professionally. In a just world this might lead to personal rebirth for him (not holding my breath) or a reduction in his status due to this and possibly other incidents yet to be uncovered. Bullies are often serial abusers. When the attack on a victim becomes less rewarding, they move to another. If they exist and come forward, the weight of those other’s testimony may justifiably sink Gee.

  7. #7 Martin R
    January 23, 2014

    The editor of Nature makes public pronouncements on who in medicine is “inconsequential”? Never mind the blog pseudonym thing, that should be enough right there to lose him his job.

  8. #8 JKW
    Danville, Tri-state Area
    January 23, 2014

    Anonymity allows the message to be judged and it’s the antithesis of a big arena rock show. I also wonder how many careers Gee has tubed by injecting his juvenile view of justice over those who’ve submitted to his journal over the years. I’ve seen how politics plays out at conferences when a rep from a big journal rolls through and knowing that people like Gee are in such positions of power is disconcerting.

  9. #9 Chris Hickie
    January 23, 2014

    Anonymity in the debate of common assertions and knowledge is fine. Anonymity for the purpose of threats, insults and unverifiable allegations is not at all ok–which is the heart of any crank’s basis for “debate”.

  10. #10 ERV
    January 23, 2014

    The Isis/Gee thing has been going on a very long time. What was public was petty and pathetic (eg “Somewhere on the Nature Network, someone just fucked his 50000th goat “). Thats not educating the public. Thats not whistle blowing. This looked like two people who flat-out didnt like one another coming to a predictable conclusion.

    “There’s a significant difference between being a woman expressing her opinion and a man doing the same.”

    *shrug* We cover similar topics, youve certainly been attacked more than I have (because I havent been). Ive had to ban a grand total of one commentor for threatening me (commentor was a female). I get email from people– questions about HIV and viruses and ‘Did you see this story on the news??’ People argue about vaccines or the existence of god on my YouTube vids.

    Bruce Alberts didnt ignore me when I contacted him about potential fraud in Science. That accusation that ended up taking down a Godfather in my field, and had no negative impact on my career whatsoever.

    That being said, there have been people who have gone after my job (self proclaimed feminists, actually), and my Epic Takedown was utterly ignored by mainstream skeptics, while they made time to coddle damsels in distress.

    *shrug*

    There are reasons for being pseudo on the internet. I dont disagree, and I cannot fathom outing anyone. But a valid reason isnt as simple as ‘vagina’.

  11. #11 bobh
    January 23, 2014

    ORAC and ERV are two of my favorite bloggers on scienceblogs. ERV’s comment above is one reason why.

  12. #12 Lurker
    January 23, 2014

    Intimidation is a form of domination: an attempt to impose one’s will upon another person and treat them as an object. If there’s anything a rationalist could consider a major “sin,” it’s the deliberate mean-spirited violation of a core empirical and moral category, of treating a person as a thing.

    About “real names.” This phrase is often used as a stand-in for “_legal_ name,” the name you use when executing legal documents such as signing contracts. Is that more or less “real” than the names your partner, family members, and close friends call you? The nicknames people pick up in the military often sound goofy but are often associated with service in combat: life-and-death close at hand, as real as it gets. Is a military nickname not a “real” name?

    The purpose of a name is to enable first-person communication, and to refer to someone in the third person in a way that others understand. One doesn’t need one’s “legal” name for that: any consistent name will do. Acts of free speech are not “legal acts,” they are our birthright in every civilized society, and any attempt to link them to our “legal” names is nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to control others’ speech. (Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin, I’m speaking to you too.)

    Re. threats: Anyone who receives serious death threats should immediately call their local police and fill out a police report. Make it clear that you are in fear of your life, and that if you call to report a suspicious person near your house, it should be taken as a potential threat to your life (this is the value of the report: it should be read by your local patrol officers, along with other reports of criminal activity in their areas). Print out the threats and submit them as evidence. Any decent police department will take this seriously, and may also be able to engage the feds or otherwise get a court order for the ISP or social network to reveal the identity of the suspect so they can be prosecuted.

    Lastly, as for Henry Gee, with that petty, vindictive, and potentially dangerous attack on another person, he has proven himself an unworthy spokesperson for science. He should be dismissed as an editor of Nature. Freedom of speech, morally if not necessarily legally, does not include the right to expose others to danger. And Dr.Isis’ or anyone else’s posting under a pseudo does not constitute becoming a “public person.”

  13. #13 anarchic_teapot
    January 23, 2014

    “a valid reason isnt as simple as ‘vagina’”
    That statement alone reveals you to be a white, middle-class male, totally ignorant of what he’s talking about but determined to slap down his opinion as fact nonetheless. Having seen on numerous occasions the sort of threats and bullying women receive simply because they are women, your statement is wrong.

    It is unethical to dox anybody, male or female, black or white, for the reasons Orac has outlined. If, in addition, the person is *not* a straight, white male, the risk of violence, both verbal and physical, increases greatly. While in this particular case relatively little harm seems to have been done, except to Gee’s already appalling reputation, in other cases of doxing people have lost jobs, careers, even their lives.

    Doxing is dangerous, and the outer is always fully aware of this. It is a malicious act, with intent to cause suffering and humiliation.

  14. #14 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 23, 2014

    @anarchic_teapot – You might look at ERV’s blog and see if you want to reconsider your first paragraph.

  15. #15 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 23, 2014

    It appears Mr Gee has deleted his Twitter account.

    Wow.

    The editor of Nature resorts to deleting his Twitter account? That’s pretty serious.

    I have a Twitter account that I use in RealLife, and while I don’t use it solely for business, I am very careful in what I say in personal encounters, because through it, I am still representing my employer.

    Public pissing matches never turn out well.

  16. #16 Irène Delse
    January 23, 2014

    @ anarchic teapot, MOB: Ironically, ERV’s comment here confirms what Michael Eisen was saying about pseudonymous blogging making readers judge the message, not the person…

  17. #17 Eric Lund
    January 23, 2014

    I also remember Isis from her SB days. IIRC she and Mike the Mad Biologist left about the same time, for similar reasons (this was about the time National Geographic took over SB; it had something to do with policy changes). Isis had good reasons for wanting to remain pseudonymous.

    Forcibly outing a pseudonymous blogger almost always has the intent or the effect (if not both) of causing severe damage to the target. The feud between Isis and Henry Gee was specifically between them (and Gee’s employer), and AFAICT did not endanger third parties. So it’s irrelevant whether the sample ERV quoted was typical of the arguments Isis was making; Gee was wrong to identify her as Fulana de Tal. (I didn’t see her actual name, and it’s of no importance to me, so I’m using the Spanish equivalent of Jane Doe.) That’s different from the case where a misogynistic Reddit troglodyte was outed a couple of years ago: he was doing stuff that injured, or threatened to injure, other people.

  18. #18 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    January 23, 2014

    I think that Gee has “lost” it. I highly recommend this article by Coyne. It explains a lot.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/nature-editor-henry-gee-goes-all-anti-science/

    As I understand it, Gee is projecting. He is imputing to all scientists his own psychological state, not trying to understand where actual scientists are actually coming from.

    Having an anti-science demagogue as a Senior Editor of Nature has to have a big impact on their quality. Now I understand their emphasis on hype and fad science over quality.

    Sad, really.

    Gee outing Isis will be thought of as one of the triggers for the end of for-profit science journals. What I hope is that it will be an end to people trying to monetize or derive social power from the practice of science, that is convert “science” or a “scientific reputation” into things of value, and in particular into social power. In any Kyriarchy (system of top-down social power), power over individuals is what is most valuable. In the Patriarchy, (and the patriarchal religions) it is power over women (because women are the mothers of the next generation).

    Doing science is a human activity. If the way that science is done means that scientists can’t be parents and have families, then we are doing science wrong.

  19. #19 BLARG
    January 23, 2014

    Lets add some context to why Henry was so pissed. Isis crossed the line on numerous occasions. I support Henry’s right to name his harasser.

    http://i.imgur.com/lIV843r.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/xqdSFdu.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/tSmgXxg.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/aOoPECD.jpg

  20. #20 cakesphere
    January 23, 2014

    @anarchic_teapot

    I think that people will latch onto whatever they think will be the easiest way to injure someone. Unfortunately, gender is one of the easiest things to comment upon, as your own comment proves.

    I know you weren’t trying to injure ERV, but the point stands. You immediately made an assumption as to the demographic ERV belonged to and tailored a snippy response accordingly. I honestly found it no different from an alt-med parent of an autistic child going “You don’t know anything about this! You don’t have an autistic child! You know nothing!!! Stupid pharma shill!”

    TL;DR I don’t think that it’s necessarily that people are super misogynistic, though there are definitely those that still are. I just think that people are dicks in the easiest way they can be, and “because gender stereotype here” has been historically successful, they use it. Path of least resistance, and all that. If Isis were a talking cat, the trolls would be saying “if only they had put you down at the shelter”, or something to that effect.

  21. #21 Becca Stareyes
    January 23, 2014

    I’m reminded of a comic author Jim Hines posted on threats women* receive on the Internet. The chilling part is that he footnotes all of threats in the second panel with the blog where someone reports getting them.

    After seeing all that, it’s no wonder that many people, especially women or those who have anything remotely ‘controversial’** to say, among other groups, blog under a psuedonym.

    * Since Mr. Hines is a SF writer and many of his friends are as well, a blog is often considered part of the job so cannot be done anonymously.
    ** ‘Controversial’ in quotes, because things like ‘it is rude to harass women at conventions’ or ‘I would like more female characters in video games’ shouldn’t be.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    January 23, 2014

    Originally when I started commenting about Woo-topia(tm), I was going to use a variant of my last nameS- which are both masculine personal names- so I’d be ‘Walter’, *Howard*, whatever
    BECAUSE I knew that some of the objections would probably NOT be to what I said but to my gender.

    Thus, it would be easier that way BUT it’s also hiding. Having a female ‘nym invites all manner of attention- as I’ve learned. Scoffers imagine interesting things about me. Heh.

    I think that it is important for us to protect ourselves. We get a lot of people angry because we discuss their dodgy businesses, raging egos and PR machines. Do I think that women are MORE at risk? Possibly because they make certain types more angry
    BUT I DO know of several men who have been attacked viciously- Lee, a physicist was sued by a woo-meister; Todd, an hiv’aids realist was harassed at home and work ( now I learned also sued); an epi had recupcussions at work; Orac has had a variety of problems from his critics.

    I think what we say is important- it is in the public interest yet we are not protected- we have to do it ourselves. I personally write about a creature who has an army of lawyers ,a ton of money and a history of suing critics and revolting mothers/ a rebel grad student who would perhaps take aim at me if they had my full name and location. I have my own business, residence and am reasonably well-off.
    In other words, a target.

    But women are especially vulnerable to a certain kind of attack – their intelligence and success make particular critics very angry leading to obnoxious retorts that focus on their (imagined) lack of morals and attractiveness. There is research form the 1970s that shows that a female success is often associated with negative stereotypes. It’s a way to deny women’s value: she may be a scientist but she’s “lonely, slutty, weird, ugly, gay” ( choose one).

    Of course, men are not entirely invulnerable to this nonsense.
    Then, there is always the physical stuff.

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    January 23, 2014

    (tm) doesn’t always work.

  24. #24 Rebecca Fisher
    January 23, 2014
  25. #25 Donnie
    United States
    January 23, 2014

    @bLArg: Wow! that was some serious harassment /snark. Isis was, and has been pointing out instances of sexism by Gee. He reacted by not shutting up and listening, but being a sexist, reactionary jerk.

    But whateva’s…sexist assholes seem to flame together

  26. #26 Lawrence
    January 23, 2014

    @BLARG – wow, that is so horrible, how could she possibly live with herself……(sarcasm is dripping)

    The typical troll we get here is 100x worse than that…..seriously.

  27. #27 LIz Ditz
    January 23, 2014

    @BLARG — you call that “crossing the line”? I call that legitimate criticism.

  28. #28 Dangerous Bacon
    January 23, 2014

    “The editor of Nature makes public pronouncements on who in medicine is “inconsequential”?”

    Yeah, that’s sort of comical.

  29. #29 Lawrence
    January 23, 2014

    @Liz – that’s so benign I can’t even believe that anyone would consider it “crossing the line.”

  30. #30 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 23, 2014

    @Irène Delse –

    Ironically, ERV’s comment here confirms what Michael Eisen was saying about pseudonymous blogging making readers judge the message, not the person…

    I was thinking that anarchic teapot’s response was potentially an example of Larry Moran’s point.

  31. #31 cakesphere
    January 23, 2014

    @BLARG

    Even if you think Gee was justified in outing Isis (I personally think that however you slice it, it was a dick move that was obviously done to harm Isis and her personal life, but I acknowledge that some might see it otherwise) Gee acted completely unprofessionally on his twitter, given the fact that his twitter seemed to be publicly connected with his job.

    At the very least, he is wrong for responding the way he did in a professional context.

  32. #32 Alain
    January 23, 2014

    I reserve judgement. First, I’m never ok with the outing of someone, period. Second, having read the statement by Henry Gee, he did have a period of time where he was suffering from clinical depression and I have to say we never fully recover from that. What I’d like to have more data is in the exchange between Isis and Gee (on twitter and anywhere else) to determine how much of a causal link can lead to clinical depression and I may be biased because I’ve been at the receiving end of daily harassment in real life which lead me to a severe anxiety problem leading to a major depressive disorder but I’ll try to check that (bias) at the door when I examine their exchange.

    About the only lesson worth remembering for the moment is that Gee should have posted that statement before outing Isis. And then, he should have disappeared from twitter at the very least.

    Alain

  33. #33 BLARG
    January 23, 2014

    @cakesphere

    I totally agree. Honestly I think both parties owe each other an apology for both acting like immature jerks. The person who looks the worst here is obviously Gee and he’ll have to live with those consequences.

    I read Dr Isis a lot and I agree with her point of view far often than not but her she crossed a line and it is UNDERSTANDABLE that Gee could make this very public mistake out of anger (esp. considering his medical issues).

    That’s one thing that bothers me about many of the Sci-bloggers out there. NO one is allowed to make a mistake and apologize for it. Objectively, ‘outing’ isis was harmless, everyone who wanted to know who she was already knew. He apologized unreservedly and said he knew what he did was wrong and provided context of why he made a bad choice.

    The level of vengeance and immediacy that people on twitter demand of others is frankly astonishing. Most of the serious scientist that I know are moving away from twitter for this exact reason – is it worth it? Many believe no.

  34. #34 JGC
    January 23, 2014

    Blarg, which of those comments by Dr Isis do you feel crossed whatever arbitrary line you’re imagining? I don’t see how any of them justify publicly revealing her identity.

  35. #35 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 23, 2014

    Lets add some context to why Henry was so pissed. Isis crossed the line on numerous occasions.

    If those are the best examples that can be found of Isis supposedly “crossing the line” and “harassing” Gee then Gee is even less fit to hold his position than this affair already suggests. You can’t build yourself special shoes with toes that extend out ten yards in front of you and then claim a right to take revenge on those who are so cruel as to step on your toes. And if you are so thin-skinned that someone merely suggesting that you are “crazy” is, in your mind, a terrible “harassment” for which you have to out them to try to silence them, then you have no business trying to be an editor at a major scientific journal.

    BLARG trying to put up a defense of Gee’s cowardly actions reminds me of an incident that happened years ago to me at Wikipedia. A particularly unhinged editor (let’s call him Gossage) started making death threats to me, because whenever he tried to insert his erroneous solution to a particular math puzzle into the article for that puzzle, someone who recognized that it was fallacious would revert his changes, and that someone was frequently me.

    Eventually Gossage got banned for his death threats to me. At which point a new editor showed up, let’s call him Vardebedian, and started talking about how Gossage had been so unfairly treated, because he hadn’t made death threats at all, no! No, Gossage had merely made the common-sense observation that, if I was going to oppose all truth and progress by NOT letting Gossage put what he wanted into the article, then obviously I should be put to death for that offense – not the same thing as a death threat at all, no, who could possibly think that?

    Needless to say, no one was inclined to believe Vardebedian’s claims that he was someone different from Gossage who just happened to see things according to Gossage’s intensely Gossage-centric view of the world. BLARG’s peculiar skewed views, on what’s all right for Gee to do to Isis vs. what’s “crossing the line” for Isis to opine about Gee, leads me to wonder what the G in BLARG stands for.

  36. #36 Orlac not Orac
    January 23, 2014

    Creep gives self justifying meally mouthed apology – pseudonomously !

    http://occamstypewriter.org/cromercrox/2014/01/23/reflections-on-this-weekends-events/

  37. #37 JGC
    January 23, 2014

    read Dr Isis a lot and I agree with her point of view far often than not but her she crossed a line and it is UNDERSTANDABLE that Gee could make this very public mistake out of anger (esp. considering his medical issues).

    Again, what line did she cross with those comments? Was simply criticizing his decisions as editor (e.g., accepting Rybicki’s Womanspace for publication)? Was it the humorous way she expressed her points (in which case your argument reduces to tone trolling)?

    I’m really baffledhere–what exactly do you think she did wrong?

  38. #38 Politicalguineapig
    January 23, 2014

    Lurker: Re. threats: Anyone who receives serious death threats should immediately call their local police and fill out a police report. Make it clear that you are in fear of your life, and that if you call to report a suspicious person near your house, it should be taken as a potential threat to your life (this is the value of the report: it should be read by your local patrol officers, along with other reports of criminal activity in their areas). Print out the threats and submit them as evidence. Any decent police department will take this seriously..

    Yeah, pardon me if I have a hard time believing that. Police departments tend to put complaints from women in the circular file.

    Becca Stareyes: Since Mr. Hines is a SF writer and many of his friends are as well, a blog is often considered part of the job so cannot be done anonymously.
    ** ‘Controversial’ in quotes, because things like ‘it is rude to harass women at conventions’ or ‘I would like more female characters in video games’ shouldn’t be.

    Sadly, ’twill always be so.

  39. #39 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 23, 2014

    I don’t get the “I don’t speak for Nature” defense. I don’t think anyone has suggested that his comments are the official position of the Journal. What they are saying is that as the editor of a prestigious journal such as Nature, his actions reflect on him, and his suitability for that job.

    This is the first I have heard of this kerfluffle, but personally, I would be very worried about editors who carry personal vendettas so publicly.

    Not because I think it is the policy of the journal, but because I wouldn’t trust their ability to adhere to the policy of the journal.

  40. #40 Reuben Gaines
    http://thepoxesblog.wordpress.com
    January 23, 2014

    I started writing, also pseudonymously, some months ago, and the attempts to figure out who I was started almost immediately. Jake Crosby, of anti-vax fame, sent an email to the department of health in Maryland, stating that I was Ren. He continued this attempt at outing in other fora as well.

    Lately, it’s been John Stone of Age of Autism that has been trying to figure out my humble origins. Instead of responding to any of my criticisms on his fixation obsession with Dorit Reiss, he asks me to prove to him that I exist. Well, I’m writing the comments, so I must exist. I’m not a bot.

    Or am I a bot and don’t know it? Anyway, someone with a foreign (perhaps British) accent called over and over again to another health department to complain that someone (me) was impersonating an epidemiologist working there. The person taking the call knew of my blogging, so they just pretty much told the caller to get a life. Or was it me that told the caller to get a life?

    No, it wasn’t me.

    Pseudonymity can be fun, but it can have some unforeseen consequences, as stated above. On the other hand, we all remember what happened when Ren did not hide behind a pseudonym to do his blogging. So it goes both ways, I reckon.

  41. #41 Beana
    Anxiously awaiting the emergence of the 'G' in BLARG
    January 23, 2014

    And exactly how does a person like Mr Gee become so powerful?

    PS, changing my ‘nym, if that is okay, I am not scared any more. The people on this blog have given me renewed hope for the future of my children. (the lurker formerly known as ‘Scared Momma’)

    Denise, I think I owe you a $1.50, I used ‘woo-topia’ on another comment. ;)

  42. #42 Mrs Woo
    January 23, 2014

    I have to admit that as I read this and then delved more into it, I agree – since his Twitter was in some way associated with his professional life, he should have taken the high road for reasons of professionalism alone.

    This brings a fascinating thing. Since Isis was, instead pseudonymous, she was not bound by that same professionalism, which did, unfortunately, give her an opportunity to be a little less professional in her treatment of him.

    When I first began my own interaction with the internet (back in the days when it was mostly institutional), I was warned that anything outside of work should be done under a pseudonym to reduce the possibility of being “tracked down by a crazy person.” Most of my email IDs, except for one personal one, do not have a valid location to this day because I still cringe a little to worry about the internet boogeyman. I have to laugh at myself more than just a little bit. Even here it is obvious I am “no one of importance.” Someone taking the effort to threaten or find me is incredibly remote.

    Yet still I cling to the little bit of anonymity. I guess it makes me feel that I would be blameless should someone choose to threaten me and attempt to do so.

  43. #43 SKeptVet
    January 23, 2014

    Orac is absolutely on target here. I too blog under a pseudonym but not anonymously, and I too have had regular hate mail, threats of litigation, and outraged calls to my employer. Last week a reader, with no apparent understanding of the concept of irony, began a hateful screed with the question, “Why don’t you publish your phone number?” Complaints about pseudonyms and anonymoity are almost always an attempt to suppress a message rather than respond substantively to its content. Pure intimidation. So long as the proportion of a@#$oles and wackos remains as high as it it, anonymity and pseudonymity will remian necessary tools allowing safe public discourse on controversial topics.

  44. #44 Helianthus
    January 23, 2014

    @ Denice Walters

    [Women] intelligence and success make particular critics very angry leading to obnoxious retorts that focus on their (imagined) lack of morals and attractiveness.

    It doesn’t even take intelligence or success. The critic only needs to feel threatened. And judging a woman’s worth by her degree of attractiveness is so embedded in our supposed egalitarian societies that it’s pervasive to the point of being automatic, yet invisible.

    I hasten to add that feeling threatened is no reason to act on it. It’s like all temptations and sins and bad behaviors. You have to learn to recognize the impulse and resist it.
    Talking from personal experience, to my shame.

    Re: Henry Gee’s tweets.
    Answering something on the line of “you and which army” is understandable.
    Belittling your opponent’s job; some may say it’s going beyond fair retribution.
    Ripping out the mask protecting the identity of your opponent… Do I detect a desire to harm?

    Of course, it could be just me. I have a tendency to see damsels in distress everywhere.
    Either way, this over-reaction of him is in itself unwarranted and despicable.

  45. #45 Khani
    January 23, 2014

    Any one person stating they have or have not experienced gender-targeted harassment is anecdote, I’m afraid. Actual research and data does bear out the fact that women do tend to get harassed more and more severely.

    Anecdote: I have been harassed about my gender, and not just by men–by women as well. It was actually the woman who freaked me out the most by noting where my parents lived. However, either could have been the one who vandalized my car, as they both knew my real-life name, where I worked and also lived only a few blocks away in the same town.

    Second Anecdote: I have also heard, anecdotally, that it is usually the women in a church congregation (of denominations that allow women to be pastors) who have a problem with having a female pastor, not the men.

    I am not aware of any studies done on the subject, though, so I would certainly be open to data. But to me that’s suggestive that the hatred of women can certainly come from women as well as men. I would be cautious about assuming all the threats and gender-based hatefulness are coming from men.

  46. #46 Marry Me, Mindy
    January 23, 2014

    I have to admit that as I read this and then delved more into it, I agree – since his Twitter was in some way associated with his professional life, he should have taken the high road for reasons of professionalism alone.

    That reminds me, I also have a non-work related twitter account that is under a (poorly hidden) pseudonym. I act very differently there than I do on the one with my name on it.

    To be fair, even with that one, I do have a certain reputation to maintain, so avoid being nasty, but in that case it is maintaining personal cred than about professionalism.

  47. #47 AdamG
    January 23, 2014

    My roommate happens to be a feminist/atheist/skeptic blogger. I’ve seen firsthand the absolutely disgusting vitriol that gets thrown her way.

    Things came to a head when a nutso with a major axe to grind against feminists (who used to hang out at ERV’s place, go figure) made a youtube video showing exactly where we live and where we work, with some seriously disturbing implications about how easy it would be to stalk and follow her. The police became involved, unfortunately to no avail as the guy was completely anonymous, despite showing his face in the video.

    This is a real problem that our society is going to have to do some serious grappling with in the next few years. I always give the same recommendation to doubters: live on the internet as a woman for a week. Make a twitter account with some obvious feminine signifiers, start tweeting about atheism/feminism/skepticism and see what kind of responses you get. I tried it, and now I’ll never be a skeptic on this issue again.

  48. #48 coco
    January 23, 2014

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love your blog any more than I already do, you surprise me yet again!

    I am a woman with a first name that is nominally unisex but mostly considered a man’s name. Indeed, based on my name, people often express surprise at my gender when I meet them in person for the first time.

    If I use my birth name in a username, my experience has been that people assume I am male unless I specifically correct someone or discuss something that is directly relevant to gender. I can’t even express how many times I have been in a fairly respectful debate with someone online only to have it suddenly devolve into misogyny once my gender is revealed. I use a more feminine username only in spaces where being a woman isn’t stigmatized: mostly in spaces where women, queer people, and liberal academics congregate.

  49. […] in cyberspace. Including people who actually do have sustained hate campaigns against them, such as Orac or PZ […]

  50. #50 Dr. Duke
    Oklahoma City, OK
    January 23, 2014
  51. #51 Orac
    January 23, 2014

    Wow. That’s some seriously thin skin and victim blaming, there. Orac’s translation of the post: “I support people’s using pseudonyms and shouldn’t have done what I did, but bitch made me do it by being mean to me and calling me sexist. Pity me.”

    That someone with the stature of Henry Gee in the scientific world would accuse a postdoc of “cyberbullying” is so ludicrous that I laughed when I read that part of his post. I mean, if the examples that BLARG posted upstream in this comment thread were characteristic of the sorts of “vicious attacks” and “cyberbullying” that Isis allegedly engaged in against Henry Gee, Gee really doesn’t belong on the Internet. I’m quite serious. He’s obviously far too sensitive a soul for the rough-and-tumble world of Twitter or blogs and would clearly be better served by avoiding social media in favor of the much more genteel world of old school scientific publishing.

  52. #52 Lawrence
    January 23, 2014

    @Orac – quite frankly, I was shocked that those “posts” were considered to be anything more than what they appeared to be at face value…nothing more than public criticism.

    We’ve seen far, far worse…..

  53. #53 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    I have my reasons to post under the same ‘nym here, on other science blogs and other “safe” blogs and mainstream media internet sites. Those reasons are well known to the individuals who posts comments alongside my comments on Respectful Insolence and other websites.

    Long before I ever posted comments on the internet, I experience threats and my young daughter was threatened, because of my advocacy activities on behalf of developmentally disabled individuals. I’ve continued those advocacy activities, now posting under “lilady” which have precipitated many vile and libelous comments from the “journalists” and their groupies at Age of Autism.

    I’ve seen first hand how Orac has been cyber-stalked and physically stalked by one of those AoA “journalists”, whose sole talent was cyber-stalking and physically stalking respected scientists, doctors, researchers, journalists and science bloggers and blogging about his exploits on AoA. Two epidemiologists who are science bloggers have had their livelihoods threatened by cyber-stalkers and most recently law school Professor Dorit Rubinstein-Reiss has been threatened with multiple harassing calls to her supervisors at the law school where she teaches.

    For those reasons, I do not post on Facebook and I assumed that I had protected myself from the vicious attacks that seem to be so prevalent now, on social networking sites. Even my cautious approach has not protected me from those attacks.

    ERV, you made these comments about women who have been threatened on the internet…

    That being said, there have been people who have gone after my job (self proclaimed feminists, actually), and my Epic Takedown was utterly ignored by mainstream skeptics, while they made time to coddle damsels in distress.

    *shrug*

    There are reasons for being pseudo on the internet. I dont disagree, and I cannot fathom outing anyone. But a valid reason isnt as simple as ‘vagina’.

    ERV, do you think I or any of the posters on RI should have not been upset by a creepy poster who linked to porn sites, before he posted this remark at me. (Thanks Orac, for not taking down these posts)

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/09/26/in-which-antivaccinationist-ginger-taylor-is-taught-a-lesson-and-not-by-orac/

    “Delysid
    October 19, 2013

    @lilady

    Now you are calling me a liar? You can take your ignorant raging idiocy and fuck yourself in your your senile, menopausal cunt. I just wish I this was in person so I look you right in the eyes and smirk in your rhytidal face when I tell you to suck my potent dick.

    I might be an asshole, but I am not a liar.”

    How about you grow up a bit before you make insensitive comments about “damsels in distress” and “vaginas”, ERV?

  54. #54 coco
    January 23, 2014

    Bruce Alberts didnt ignore me when I contacted him about potential fraud in Science. That accusation that ended up taking down a Godfather in my field, and had no negative impact on my career whatsoever.

    That being said, there have been people who have gone after my job (self proclaimed feminists, actually), and my Epic Takedown was utterly ignored by mainstream skeptics, while they made time to coddle damsels in distress.

    No one is claiming that every person with a vagina is belittled all the time, so your anecdote doesn’t prove anything except that your experience is your experience. Certainly it doesn’t invalidate the other experiences that other women have had. Just because I have experienced sexism that doesn’t mean that you have and, likewise, just because you haven’t experinced sexism doesn’t mean that others haven’t.

    Rather, it sounds more like you’ve decided that your experience is universal and that any acknowledgement that others’ experiences are not like your own is akin to “coddling damsels in distress”. And, I have to say, it is pretty rich to throw in a misogynistic trope like that while simultaneously implying that sexism doesn’t exist.

  55. #55 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    Comment in moderation….because I cut and pasted a filthy comment directed at me on Respectful Insolence.

    Orac, please get my comment out of the moderation hopper.

    Thanks,

    lilady

  56. #56 AdamG
    January 23, 2014

    it is pretty rich to throw in a misogynistic trope like that while simultaneously implying that sexism doesn’t exist.

    This is par for the course for ERV, sadly. She also enjoys bullying other young scientists.

  57. #57 DrugMonkey
    January 23, 2014

    Great post Orac. Don’t come around as much as I used to but you haven’t mellowed out *that* much.

  58. #58 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 23, 2014

    Just so I can understand, does this mean that stating someone’s actual name in the comments section of Respectful Insolence, mentioning their ham radio call sign, and disparaging their degree would be wrong if they have chosen to use a ‘nym?

  59. #59 Chris,
    January 23, 2014

    coco: “I can’t even express how many times I have been in a fairly respectful debate with someone online only to have it suddenly devolve into misogyny once my gender is revealed.”

    It is amusing. If you search this blog for one particular troll, Augustine, you will find his reaction when he could not wrap his brain that I was both a mother and an engineer. He tried to get me to answer stupid questions about <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/08/07/germ-theory-denialism-explained/#comment-114272"transgendered persons like: “Do you believe a transgender cross dressing transexual is sane?”

    That obviously is not the level of misogyny most have encountered, possibly because it was more amusing due to its complete idiocy.

  60. #60 Chris,
    January 23, 2014

    Rats! Dropped a bracket, which munged the link. The direct link is:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/08/07/germ-theory-denialism-explained/#comment-114272

  61. #61 Krebiozen
    January 23, 2014

    After reading this article by Gee, I entirely understand why Isis has been attacking Gee on Twitter. I too am alarmed that an editor of Nature could express such ignorant opinions of science.

    However, I do wonder if Gee’s British sense of irony has been misunderstood at times. For example in that article, he wrote:

    And all this because scientists weren’t honest enough, or quick enough, to say that science wasn’t about Truth, handed down on tablets of stone from above, and even then, only to the elect; but Doubt, which anyone (even girls) could grasp, provided they had a modicum of wit and concentration.

    Leaving aside the thrust of his argument, with which I disagree i.e. that science is to blame for woo by not being up-front about inherent uncertainty, his reference to “even girls” being able to grasp ‘Doubt’ is clearly ironic, and echoes his earlier observation:

    It’s always a “he”, by the way – received wisdom finds no place for female scientists, unless they also happen to be young, photogenic and, preferably, present television programmes.

    I don’t see any sexism there, looking through my own British cultural lens, it’s more of a snipe at institutional sexism in the media, but perhaps he has displayed a sexist attitude elsewhere. I don’t think it is fair to compare Gee’s behavior with some of the really unpleasant misogynist stalking and threats some have related. Did he enable such abuse by outing Isis? If her true identity really was a secret, perhaps, but it isn’t.

    Gee’s ‘outing tweet’ seems more like a somewhat irritable, petulant and pompous knee-jerk reaction, the sort of thing one might regret seconds after posting (haven’t we all done that?). I think a public apology is sufficient penance, and a bit of time away from Twitter and other social media is wise.

    Gee’s attitude to science given his position troubles me far more than a moment of irritable nastiness.

    By the way, am I the only one who finds Jay Gordon’s insistence on always referring to our host by his first name in comments here a bit creepy? There is this sort of implication that as a fellow a physician, he doesn’t need to play this silly pseudonym game, along with a darker reminder that “I know who you are”, typical of JG’s passive-aggressive style.

  62. #62 Denice Walter
    January 23, 2014

    @ Helianthus:

    Sure. I hasten to add that it’s not just women but men also. I can name a few SB bloggers/ writers whose looks are criticised as a way of striking out at their critiques. “He’s FAT!” Or unattractive or losing his hair. It’s childish because it focuses on physical attributes rather than on ideas ( or the topic being discussed). In the case of the above: also not really true. So is that all they’ve got? Apparently.

    And women are not immune from being wankerish. ( I’m trying to create a new specific idiom for ‘female wanker’…
    so far, ‘rubber’? and ‘poker’?)
    Yeah right, I am mean.

    @ Beana:
    The fee is three euros but it’s always waived.

  63. #63 Beana
    January 23, 2014

    @lilday, I don’t know how you do it. I think about you a lot, when people are rude, nasty, insensitive. You are the silent, mental hero I call upon when I get upset at ignorance.

  64. #64 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    @ M’OB:

    “Just so I can understand, does this mean that stating someone’s actual name in the comments section of Respectful Insolence, mentioning their ham radio call sign, and disparaging their degree would be wrong if they have chosen to use a ‘nym?”

    You seem to be defending a misogynist, racist individual who posted his vile comments under many ‘nyms (sock puppets) and who targeted a woman who posts on RI, frequently, M’OB.

    This individual also posted under another frequent commenter’s name, with a totally made-up persona, desperately pleading for advice from that same woman he had targeted, to deal with women who had taken advantage of him and left him in despair and close to suicide.

    Chris, I can top your story about my own personal stalking troll:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/08/02/rip-david-servan-schreiber/

    “augustine
    August 19, 2011

    Liladay

    You are a new poster here, but us regulars always look forward to Orac’s blogs around “grant writing time” because he exquisitely details the onerous task of writing a complicated grant to fund his breast cancer researchSuch is the life of our esteemed Orac who has two “day jobs” (breast cancer surgeon and breast cancer researcher).

    You are a grade A First Class Ass Kisser and Jock sniffer. Can you make it more obvious?”

    Augustine hung in for more than a year, after he posted that remark; Orac did not wield the ban hammer//sigh.

    IIRC, it was a particularly vicious racist remark directed at a Latino poster, which finally got Augustine banned.

  65. #65 Beana
    January 23, 2014

    @DW, whew, cause isn’t 3 Euros like a hundred $ now?

    @lildady posts . . . wow.

  66. #66 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    @ Krebiozen: Ah, the oh so proper Dr. Jay Gordon who is the arbiter of good taste…and who would NEVER, EVER “out” a poster here. Jay seemed to forget his manners when he “outed” a poster and it was only a fortunate happenstance that Orac was viewing the posts and was able to remove Jay’s post quickly.

    I’ve been in touch with that poster and that “outing” shook her to the core of her being.

    I believe that Dr. Jay would love to “out me”, because I’ve called him out repeatedly for the advice her provides to parents about childhood vaccines and his blatant lies about having access to Varicella vaccine under a “compassionate use” protocol for children with solid cancer tumors…before it was licensed by the FDA and while the vaccine was undergoing clinical trials in Japan.

    If you recall, Jay pulled all his personal recommendations for childhood vaccines from his website and linked to whale.to articles on his website. Now, after I called him out on those whale.to links, his website provides no links to the CDC or to California Department of Public Health websites, for parents to get reliable information about childhood vaccines.

    Remember how Dr. Jay put me “on probation” on Respectful Insolence? Did you know that Dr. Jay “banned me” a short time after that, when I engaged him on Orac’s friend’s post on the SBM website?

  67. #67 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 23, 2014

    Lilady – I am not defending anyone. I am asking whether it is OK to “out” someone you don’t like while vigorously criticizing someone who does the same to someone you do. It doesn’t feel right to me, but I’m a bit vague on the basis for ethics.

  68. #68 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    January 23, 2014

    Re. Dr. Jay Gordon:

    When I started reading this blog, Orac’s “true” identity was already said to be “the worst-kept secret on the internet”, but I wasn’t willing to expend even a mouse click finding it out, because A) I was sure his real name would mean just as much to me as his pseudonym*, and 2) It was none of my business.

    The only way I know it now is because Jay Gordon shoved it right in my face in one of his comments. So, yeah..if Orac were really interested in maintaining his pseudonymity, that would have been damaging, and I’m sure Dr. Jay wouldn’t care.

    *No offense, Orac: You could have won a Nobel in Medicine, and there’s at least a 90% chance that wouldn’t ring a bell with me,either.

  69. #69 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    M’OB: I was not the individual who “outed” that person.

    I will take “credit” for “outing” the Pothead Troll and his hundreds of sock puppets. I was libeled repeatedly by the Pothead Troll and his sockies; who called me a drug pusher.

    If you have an unblemished record and are licensed as a Registered Nurse, referring to that nurse as a “drug pusher” is a libelous and actionable. It took months for me to locate him in the U.K. He backed off when I told him that my husband was U.S. attorney for an international company and had colleagues in the U.K. who would sue him for his libelous defamatory remarks.

    I think he knew I would follow through…I don’t make idle threats.

  70. #70 Alain
    January 23, 2014

    Lilady, what about gergle who call us drug pusher? Can we (or I) do something?

    Alain

  71. #71 Shay
    January 23, 2014

    Alain@#70 — le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.

  72. #72 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 23, 2014

    Lilady – I am not defending anyone. I am asking whether it is OK to “out” someone you don’t like while vigorously criticizing someone who does the same to someone you do. It doesn’t feel right to me, but I’m a bit vague on the basis for ethics.

    MO’B:

    I think you’re framing the question incorrectly, by taking for granted that the only difference between Isis and “Medicien Man” is that we (for vague values of ‘we’) like Isis and don’t like Medicien Man.

    I do not think that is the case. BLARG, above, claimed that he supported Gee’s “right to name his harasser.” I am on a vehicle that interferes with data reception at the moment, and can’t seem to pull up Medicien Man’s greatest hits, but I’d have no hesitation in calling it harassment, especially when he gets onto his scatological fixations. Isis, as BLARG inadvertantly demonstrated, has done nothing that a reasonable person would deem harassment.

    There might be questions of “where is the line? what’s the precise distinction between a) someone who’s perhaps being snarky or even mean, but not harassing in any reasonable sense, and b) someone who’s truly breaking the social contract by committing harassment, and may as a result lose privileges they might otherwise enjoy under that contract, such as pseudonymity?”

    To which I say that there almost certainly must be difficult cases that fall into a gray area but these ain’t them. If Isis had, say, repeatedly made scatological suggestions to Gee and his readers on Gee’s blog – but if that were so, BLARG wouldn’t have had to stretch so badly to try and find examples of Isis “crossing the line”.

  73. #73 LW
    January 23, 2014

    @lilady, “I’ve been in touch with that poster and that “outing” shook her to the core of her being.”

    have you been in touch with her lately? She hasn’t been commenting and, given her fragile health, I am concerned. Others have expressed concern as well.

  74. #74 lilady
    January 23, 2014

    LW: Yes I have been in touch with her and I posted a small comment about her on RI around Christmas time. Her health is stable and we have been sharing some girl stuff. She is a delightful person and I feel privileged to have her as my long distance friend.

  75. #75 Alain
    January 23, 2014

    Alain@#70 — le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.

    Okay.

    Al

  76. #76 Quokka
    January 23, 2014

    Lilady – I am really pleased to hear she is O.K. I have regularly laughed out loud at her posts and I miss them. I hope she knows how missed she is.

    I also want to thank you for fighting the good fight. I have regularly posted using my “real” name on Facebook fighting anti-vaccine nonsense and advocating for children with disabilities and it has resulted in some pretty horrible attacks. As a psychologist who could easily have trouble made for me through AHPRA and my employer – I do think of people such as yourself when I am tempted to stop trying to counter the nonsense but it is simply too important a fight to walk away from.

  77. #77 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    mentioning their ham radio call sign

    I’m as willing as anyone to hear the answer to that question, although I’ll note that he wasn’t exactly “outed,” as KE5BMP basically outed himself from the get-go.

  78. #78 Narad
    January 23, 2014

    ^ I’ll also note that identifying his endless parade of pseudonyms with his call sign serves a useful indexing purpose.

  79. #79 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    Aw guys (gals), you are all such extraordinary people, who encouraged me to hang in on RI, when the Ugh Troll was pursuing me. I was very disheartened, when I was a newbie poster and the harassing Troll kept targeting me, but you all reached out to encourage me. For that, I am eternally grateful.

  80. #80 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 24, 2014

    Antaeus Feldspar,

    Actually, i was thinking of Sid Offit. I don’t recall him being the same person as Medicien Man, though my memory may be going. I do remember seeing multiple references to him as Robert Schecter and discussing his degree in “fire science” from John Jay College.

    From a superficial view, some of the comments here regarding the Isis incident and several incidents regarding Orac would seem to apply there as well.

    Note that I do not agree with Sid Offit to any significant sense, and have argued against his various points on multiple occasions.

    Is the use of his true name a creepy attempt to shut him up without a good faith effort to address what he says? Or was his identity common knowledge for anyone who cared – which, if I understand correctly, was also the case for Isis?

    By the way, if I confused matters by mentioning ham radio, then my apologies. I could easily be conflating people.

  81. #81 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 24, 2014

    lilady – I get the impression that I somehow offended you. I apologize and that.was not my intention.

  82. […] also discussed Mr […]

  83. #83 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    MO’B: You actually did confuse Medicien Man a.k.a. Dr. I. M. Smart with Sid Offit.

    Long before Sid Offit took his “Vaccine Machine” to Facebook, he had his own blog, where he would would post intermittently under his own name. IIRC, he also had a separate “Flouride Machine” blog, which was defunct and folded into his “Vaccine Machine” blog. No one “outed him” to reveal his real identity.

    He was, and remains, an occasional drive-by poster on RI.

    After reading every one of his posts on his own blog and reading and responding to his occasional posts on RI, I asked him about his “credentials” (his college or advanced degree and his work experience in any science field) Sid Offit provided the information that he had a Fire Science degree from John Jay College. No one “outed him”.

    I also dubbed him Sid Offal and he refers to me as “baglady”.

    In spite of Mr. Schecter having a “fire science” degree, he was clueless about Federal Life Safety Codes, as applying to the Assisted Living facility where his mother resides/resided and the automatic locking of bedroom doors during a fire drill or actual fire. I provided that information to him, when he was b!tching about his mother being locked out of her bedroom….and I don’t have a degree in fire science.

  84. #84 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    MO’B: I’m sorry if you thought I was offended by your comments…I wasn’t. It’s very difficult to remember The Trolls and their various shticks who populate RI.

    We’ve had our “moments” and disagreements in the past and I expect we will continue to have some disagreements….unless, of course, you see the light and join us far-to-the-left Liberals :-)

  85. #85 Narad
    January 24, 2014

    Is the use of his true name a creepy attempt to shut him up without a good faith effort to address what he says? Or was his identity common knowledge for anyone who cared – which, if I understand correctly, was also the case for Isis?

    I don’t think there’s a need for a good-faith effort to address Schecter’s comments, as they don’t consist of anything that could be construed as good-faith remarks.

    But it’s not like Isis, either, it’s like KE5BMP. “Sid Offit” explicitly tied his pseudonym to his “blog,” which was so roundly ignored that he moved to FB and enjoyed much greater attention as an accessible Gathering point for the sanity-challenged.

  86. #86 Helianthus
    January 24, 2014

    @ lilady

    I don’t know if I said it it the past, but thanks for posting here, especially today. Your insight is appreciated.

    @ Krebiozen

    By the way, am I the only one who finds Jay Gordon’s insistence on always referring to our host by his first name in comments here a bit creepy?

    No. I feel exactly the same.

    Gee’s ‘outing tweet’ seems more like a somewhat irritable, petulant and pompous knee-jerk reaction, the sort of thing one might regret seconds after posting [...] Gee’s attitude to science given his position troubles me far more than a moment of irritable nastiness.

    I am tempted to agree with you here, but I am busy second-guessing myself on the sexism topic.

    On one hand, I feel like insisting on the supposed sexist subtone of Gee’s tweets is going to derail the discussion.
    The nasty remarks on his opponent’s job and the ID outing is enough to qualify as a big social faux pas, regardless of the gender of the target.
    That’s why I refrained from answering ERV’s comment. I didn’t want to derail the discussion into a rerun of feuds Scienceblog bloggers have had in the past.
    Actually, Irène Delse, AdamG and lilady handled her post much better than I would have done.

    On the other hand, I am male, and from past experience I know I may not be as aware of sexist undertones as I think. So I am wary to dismiss the possibility.

    I’m afraid only Henry Gee could answer this one. If his opponent has been male, would he have feel the need to publish his name?

  87. #87 Mark Richard
    January 24, 2014

    And breathe….
    Back to the science anyone?

  88. #88 frozenwarning
    January 24, 2014

    This use of depression as an excuse for shitty behaviour winds me up. Gee’s sorry excuse for an apology reminds me so much of the recent nonpology given by a UK Peer of the Realm less than a week ago as an excuse for sexually harassing women
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25814565

    Using this illness as an excuse is an insult to the millions of people who don’t behave like spoilt brats on the internet.

  89. […] a digression yesterday, it’s time to get back to business. Don’t get me wrong. Yesterday’s post was business. It was definitely something important (to me) that needed to be said, in my […]

  90. #90 Arctic Snowbird
    January 24, 2014

    Lilady,

    I’m curious about these libelous comments that you’ve gotten from the Gambolputty person. I’ve had run-ins with him/her, or run-ins with someone who I think is him/her, and I’d like to see what was said that could be libel.

    Do you have links to those comments? The link you sent has a comment with nothing that’s actually libelous and is not even addressed to you.

  91. #91 Greg
    January 24, 2014

    @Alaiin

    Alain@#70 — le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.

    ‘The joker is not worth the acrobatics’? Damn — should have stuck with my french lessons.

    Anyway Alain, why would you want to sue me about the drug-dealer comments. Hee hee hee. Actually drug-dealing would be the worst job for an autistic person. The lying — the scheming—they just don’t have it in them.

    @Orac

    Why do you think you are losing your insolence? Orac -Orac-how did you find yourself in this situation? Here you are about to go down in history as being one face of a movement that perpetuated the worst cases of child abuse on an epidemic level for a generation of children.

  92. #92 Krebiozen
    January 24, 2014

    Damn — should have stuck with my french lessons.

    English, mathematics and basic science were probably more important. Shame you didn’t stick with them either. Still you seem to have excelled in your repulsive a$$hole lessons.

  93. #93 Julian Frost
    January 24, 2014

    “Apply cold water to area of burn.”

  94. #94 Julian Frost
    January 24, 2014

    PS Greg, the actual translation is “the game is not worth the candle”.

  95. #95 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.ca
    January 24, 2014

    With regards to lilady’s posts overall in the second half of this comment thread (more or less), I must say lilady serves as something of an inspiration when it comes to tirelessly engaging cranks, quacks, and trolls on the Internet, here and elsewhere.

    I only wish I could do a better job of following the example she has set.

  96. #96 Greg
    January 24, 2014

    @MOB

    Lilady: unless, of course, you see the light and join us far-to-the-left Liberals

    MOB, pause and take a deep breath! Tell her that you will get back in line and there will be no more dessension from you. MOB, the rebel alliance needs you, and they can’t afford to have your cover blown. Besides, if the sniff you out, they will exterminate you with extreme prejudice. They are absolutely ruthless! You should see what they do to poor, defenseless kids.

  97. #97 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2014

    And now, Krebiozen finally takes off his kid gloves…
    tell us more, Mister.

  98. #98 Narad
    January 24, 2014

    Gerg, go pollute some thread where you have some chance of pretending to be on-topic rather than merely screaming for attention.

  99. #99 LW
    January 24, 2014

    Apparently Greg does not realize that the NSA is tracking his every move as the behest of our pharma masters. He thinks he is anonymous and therefore safe. (hee hee hee)

  100. #100 Chuff
    January 24, 2014

    @Greg, or possibly Orac will go down in history as the face of a movement that prevented you and your mates from carrying out the greatest mass child abuse in history.

  101. #101 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    @ Arctic Snowbird: Go back to read this statement on Orac’s post

    “I’ve suffered a lot of harassment because of my nine year mission to try to counter pseudoscience and misinformation. Like PZ, I’ve even “earned” a blog and a Facebook page whose sole purpose seems to be to attack me”

    Orac is referring to the “My Socrates Note” blog formerly owned by Craig Willoughby and now owned by gambolputty. The sole purpose of that person gambolputty, is to post vile libelous remarks about Orac’s Respectful Insolence posts.

    Now scroll down to see gambolputty’s vicious libelous personal attacks on me and my advocacy activities. Gambolputty provides the links to Orac’s posts where I have posted comments and he only “thinks” that his posts have any relevance or truth.

    I guess “I have arrived”. gambolputty devoted his yesterday’s post to me:

    http://my-socrates-note.blogspot.com/

  102. #102 Shay
    January 24, 2014

    It is probably just perception, but it does seem to me that lilady induces a near-Olympic caliber of mouth-frothing amongst a certain class of trolls, more so than even Narad.

    (Narad, that’s a compliment. REALLY).

  103. #103 Orac
    January 24, 2014

    Interesting. “gambolputty” mentions having encountered me on Usenet. Although I dabbled in Usenet from time to time as long ago as 1992, I was really only active on Usenet as a skeptic from around 1998 (when I discovered Usenet Holocaust denial and started countering it on alt.revisionism) to 2004 (when I switched from Usenet to blogging). I didn’t become particularly active on misc.health.alternative countering quackery until around 2000. My break with Usenet and switch to blogging occurred in December 2004, over nine years ago. That makes me wonder even more who he is. (Fear not, I would not out him even if I ever found out, nor should any of you do so if you figure out who he is.) Previously, I thought he was just Craig Willoughby taking on a ‘nym, but his writing was more unhinged than Craig’s. (Craig sometimes showed flashes of reasonableness, something I have yet to see with gambolputty.) I don’t recall ever encountering Craig Willoughby on Usenet; I think I first ran into him several months after I started this blog.

    Curiouser and curiouser. I do, however, sometimes wonder what ever happened to Craig.

  104. #104 Orac
    January 24, 2014

    It is probably just perception, but it does seem to me that lilady induces a near-Olympic caliber of mouth-frothing amongst a certain class of trolls, more so than even Narad.

    It’s not your perception. I sometimes wish I could bottle some of what she has and add it to my Insolence. The trolls don’t really go totally frothy over me any more, well, except for gambolputty, of course. :-)

  105. #105 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    @ Helianthus: Thanks so much for a “man’s point of view”. I really don’t think there is any set “man’s point of view” or “woman’s point of view”….with the possible exceptions of those individuals who ascribe to stereotypical opinions of the opposite sex. (“Men are unfeeling brutes” “Women are dumb broads”). Sad to say there are such fringe groups who seek out like-minded people in academia, in the workplace and on social media internet sites. (Feel free to chime in here, Denice Walter).

    The issue we have discussed here is a power play and the abusive tactics of “outing” a younger woman who is just beginning her career, by an older extremely powerful man (who may or may not be part of that fringe male group). Women have earned their positions of power in the corporate world and in academia and in science fields and I’m certain there have been instances where some women have wielded their power to put down men who are subordinate to them.

    My daughter has broken through the “glass ceiling” in a male-dominated field and credits her male mentors for the assistance they provided to advance her career and to guide her to gain entry admission into a prestigious engineering school, where she studied for her MSc-Computer Technology degree. She, in turn, has played it forward, by mentoring young men and women, who, will achieve great success, aided by her mentoring. She find great satisfaction in preparing a younger generation to be leaders in her field.

  106. #106 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2014

    @ lilady:

    Unfortunately ( or, fortunately?) I can’t chime in now as I am expected elsewhere.

  107. #107 Greg
    January 24, 2014

    @Orac
    Actually Orac, I think there is more to being a good shill than just pissing off the ‘trolls’. Here is the rundown of how I rank pharma’ trolls: Perhaps Dorit is tops. She is knowledgeable and determined. She also at times presents herself as personable, and even if it’s a charade. Narad is second, although his ego and conscience sometimes get in the way and make him prone to outbursts. Lilady is next; she is persistent and is indeed good at getting under the skin of the ‘quacks’ and ‘trolls’, but she is often too stern, which I think does not endear her to the fence sitters. At the bottom is you, Orac. Indeed I oagree with your own self-assessment; you seem to have lost your urge to fight. I also think this is due to a conscience factor of knowing that you are taken shots at the most vulnerable and down-trodden. I think losing your anonymity did you in.

  108. #108 Krebiozen
    January 24, 2014

    Denice,

    tell us more, Mister.

    I’m hoping he will take Narad’s advice, infused as it is with grandmotherly kindness, and I won’t have to.

  109. #109 Lawrence
    January 24, 2014

    Toyed with the idea of creating a blog of my own – keep getting the word out to the educated people out there (the ones that don’t rely on GoogleU)…..would be interesting to see if I could tick them off enough to get on a list somewhere (a number of anti-vax trolls already don’t like me very much).

  110. #110 Orac
    January 24, 2014

    Greg has made me feel better. If he feels the need to denigrate me as an ineffective pharma shill, that means I must still be effective indeed, Lord Draconis be praised! My self-doubt has dissipated, thanks to Greg! Of course, it never really went far. The real reason, I suspect, that the antivaxers rarely attack me anymore is because they’ve already thrown their worst at me for nine years, culminating in an attempt to get me fired in 2010, while a Burzynski fan filed a complaint to my state medical board last year, and I’m still standing. Worse, I now kind of like it. Except for that part about meeting Jake Crosby in person last March. That was rather icky.

    Now where’s my Obsidian Unit? The weather sucks here and I need to get home. What does a high ranking collaborator with the PharmaCom Reptilian Conspiracy have to do to get a frikkin’ Obsidian Unit? :-)

  111. #111 Mewens
    January 24, 2014

    I’m actually sympathetic to what M’OB says here, but I don’t know if it’s for the same reasons.

    I’m uncomfortable using Offal’s real name in connection with his pseudonymous postings for 3 reasons: 1) He doesn’t attempt to connect his ID to the “Sid Offit” moniker, and that puts him in the same class as our host (in terms of how he presents himself, that is); 2) I strongly believe that ethical behavior is also consistent behavior; and 3) It just looks petty.

    I know optics shouldn’t count, but they do. People see us damning Jay Gordon — and make no mistake, he deserves every ounce of our scorn, not just because of his off-the-cuff outings — and then see us dropping Offal’s real name in the same breath, and it looks hypocritical. The fact that it doesn’t take a brain trust to connect Offal to his real-life identity doesn’t matter; it also doesn’t matter that he didn’t try to separate them in the past. Outing someone who keeps even a casual distinction between online and offline personas carries the implication of threat, and that implication exists regardless of the speaker’s intent. That cuts both ways.

    (Note that I’m fine with mockery, and even a little savagery. There’s a difference, though, between going Dr. Oscar Wilde on Greg’s ill-informed screeds, for example, and indulging in the kind of petty vindicatisms that Gordon and other trolls here routinely offer. To indulge, myself, I offer a cliche: We’re better than that.)

  112. #112 Krebiozen
    January 24, 2014

    However does Greg figure Orac’s lost his mojo, when he churns out quality woo-kryptonite day after day, week after week, year after year? I’m losing my curiosity about how Greg’s brain works. It is increasingly apparent that it just doesn’t.

  113. #113 Lady Mondegreen
    United States
    January 24, 2014

    youve certainly been attacked more than I have (because I havent been).

    Of course you haven’t, ERV. You’ve sided with attackers. You spent months calling a young woman names like c*nt, tw*t, and b*tch on your blog (did someone say “petty and pathetic?”) You made your blog a home for people to attack her and others for over a year.

  114. #114 Narad
    January 24, 2014

    He doesn’t attempt to connect his ID to the “Sid Offit” moniker, and that puts him in the same class as our host (in terms of how he presents himself, that is)

    He certainly did right up to the WordPress switchover, which deprived him of the usual mechanism.

  115. #115 Narad
    January 24, 2014

    Allow me to clarify.

    it also doesn’t matter that he didn’t try to separate them in the past

    I am advancing the proposition that the only reason he doesn’t now is because he can’t in the fashion that he prefers, which is to hurl a few drive-by insults with a connection to his site but without making them amenable to being searched.

  116. #116 Arctic Snowbird
    January 24, 2014

    Lilady,

    I still fail to see how the comment you linked to is libelous or defamatory toward you; it wasn’t even directed at you, nor was it about you. I also don’t see anything on the site you linked to that can be construed as libel.

    Is it the comments about how Gambolputty doesn’t believe you’re a nurse? That’s clearly an opinion, which does not constitute libel.

    Is it that he/she is disagreeing with you? That also does not constitute libel.

    The reason I’m saying this is that the accusations you’re leveling here are pretty serious. Accusing someone of libel or stalking without specific instances of said libel/stalking can backfire on you.

    *shrugs* But, to each their own…

  117. #117 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2014

    My dearest Orac:
    Don’t you recall that you signed away your annual Obsidian Unit Option ( OUO) after you took Ms O on that little shopping adventure in sunny Italia where you acquired *your* Maserati Quattroporte, *her* Lamborghini G, as well as those fruitful expeditions to Dolce, Versace and the eyeglass shop at Prada.

    Actually, I think your choice gave you more bang for your buck: the Obsidians are ALL pre-owned and don’t have that ‘new lasercraft” smell.

  118. #118 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2014

    @ Krebiozen:

    I would certainly enjoy a joint effort by you and Monseiur Narad:
    your finely honed insults, extremely creative usage of variants of f@ck, totally uproarious analogies and the most stinging jabs at anti-jabbers would enthrall us and leave us in your debt.
    As we are, most of the time.

  119. #119 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    @ Arctic Snowbird: I don’t believe you read ALL of gambolputty’s posts, going back several years. It is not my opinion about libel, but the opinion of my husband and his colleagues who are attorneys.

    Are you an attorney?

    BTW, gambolputty seldom ventures off his own blog; where did you run into him?

  120. #120 Arctic Snowbird
    January 24, 2014

    I’ve run into someone I think could be him on Huff-Po and a few other sites.

    What, specifically, did he say that could be construed as libel?

    I’m not trying to argue or anything. I’m genuinely curious, and I would like to help. That’s all.

  121. #121 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 24, 2014
    He doesn’t attempt to connect his ID to the “Sid Offit” moniker, and that puts him in the same class as our host (in terms of how he presents himself, that is)

    He certainly did right up to the WordPress switchover, which deprived him of the usual mechanism.

    I remember that Sid had a blurb on his Vaccine Machine blog that said something like ‘I comment on other blogs as Sid Offit’.

    I went looking on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for a citation, but the earliest crawl they have is August 2011, and his blog was started in September 2010.

    I maintain that Stupid Sid outed himself, and did, for a while, connect his real life self to the ‘nym.

    I just can’t prove it.

  122. #122 lilady
    January 24, 2014

    @ Arctic Snowbird: Thanks for your offer. Again, I am relying on the opinions of attorneys who have viewed all of the posts.

    Johnny: Bingo !!!

    http://thevaccinemachine.blogspot.com/2010/12/fluoridation-machine.html

  123. #123 Arctic Snowbird
    January 24, 2014

    I have viewed all of the posts. I don’t see anything that can be libel towards you, specifically.

  124. #124 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 24, 2014

    Yep, that’s it. I was looking in the ‘About’ and ‘FAQ’, not a specific post.

    Robert Schecter’s own words -

    My comments are posted under the pseudonym Sid Offit, Paul’s anti vaccine alter ego.

  125. #125 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2014

    -btw- “Sid” really *is* Dr Offit’s antithesis as he hosts a bery active page ( the Vaccine Machine facebook) that is liked by 43K who hobnob there to give and get anti-vaccine advice – e.g. how to get exemptions, find anti-vax friendly doctors and how to travel / re-locate internationally w/o vaccinating your children.

    So I suppose he provides the reverse of what Dr O does.

  126. #126 Narad
    January 25, 2014

    Accusing someone of libel or stalking without specific instances of said libel/stalking can backfire on you.

    Not especially, if you mean that it’s libel in and of itself. It’s in essence an opinion based on disclosed facts.

  127. #127 DLC
    January 25, 2014

    These incidents come up from time to time. In this day nobody online is ever really anonymous, if those who want to find out are willing to do some (potentially illegal) work. But I agree with Orac that one’s words should stand on their own merit, and not on one’s academic credentials, or lack thereof.

  128. #128 Ronald
    NL
    January 25, 2014

    Orac, the link to patsullivan.com is dead, the domaij is for sale. I found an archive here: http://unmaskingorac.blogspot.nl/2012/02/orac-unmasked.html
    Perhaps interesting for the historically inclined.

  129. #129 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    @Lawrence

    “Toyed with the idea of creating a blog of my own”

    A secret underground movement for shills who want to share secrets about about avoiding vaccines, even though they pitch them publicly? (hee hee hee)

  130. #130 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    Actually re shills and quacks suing each other for libel and defamation, I think it would be a great idea to have a omnibus-style legal proceeding to test which insults are acceptable. Shills could present typical insults leveled against them such as ‘drug pushers’, ‘pharma whores’, etc. Quacks could counter with ‘rabid dogs’, ‘loony fringes’, ‘herd parasites’, and so on. Hopefully though we would be dealing with a real court, and not a kangaroo one.

  131. #131 Krebiozen
    January 25, 2014

    Greg, are you really telling us that lilady, a retired RN who has administered more vaccines than you have brain cells, is a drug pusher and a pharma whore? Please reply with a single word, yes or no.

  132. #132 Lawrence
    January 25, 2014

    @Kreb – I’d settle for seeing what happens with Deer’s Anti-SLAPP suit in Texas (and Wakefield’s appeal).

    Any updates?

  133. #133 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    @Kreb

    Perhaps you do have a little more slyness than I initially gave you credit for. (hee hee hee)

  134. #134 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    VCADODers,

    On a serious matter….

    I have been spending so much time here of late that it is just today I checked back in at AoA. Indeed the remains that was found was that of Avonte. Since so much time is spent here discussing autism, what are your reactions to this news?

  135. #135 Narad
    January 25, 2014

    Any updates?

    Nope. The average time to a decision (according to this guy) in 2011 in the same court was 7.9 months from filing, but that figure presumably includes cases that weren’t decided on the merits. It’s been 16 months for Wakefraud and 8 months since oral argument. The Bureau of Justice Statistics cites a national average for 2005 of 82% of cases (PDF) decided on the merits being disposed within 18 months, with the trial court’s decision being affirmed about 3:1 over reversals.

  136. #136 Narad
    January 25, 2014

    I think it would be a great idea to have a omnibus-style legal proceeding to test which insults are acceptable…. Hopefully though we would be dealing with a real court, and not a kangaroo one.

    Gerg once again demonstrates that his knowledge of the law is nonexistent. Here’s a tip, cupcake: Asserting that someone is being paid to comment based on false (or, more commonly, no) underlying facts is defamation per se and actionable on its face.

  137. #137 Narad
    January 25, 2014

    This, for example, as well as all of your similar remarks, is defamation per se based on no underlying facts:

    A secret underground movement for shills who want to share secrets about about avoiding vaccines, even though they pitch them publicly?

  138. #138 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    @Narad

    This, for example, as well as all of your similar remarks, is defamation per se based on no underlying facts:

    A secret underground movement for shills who want to share secrets about about avoiding vaccines, even though they pitch them publicly?

    ——————————————————————————-

    Well Narad, I am going to counter sue you for saying I was lying when I took my blood pressure in my doctor’s office. Maybe I will even get my doctor to testify. Hey, I also have Antaeus calling my a high-school drop-out. I can’t wait to flush out my degree in court. Oh boy! — you guys are in big trouble now. (hee hee hee)

    Seriously Narad, what’s with the beef? I asked the question and you chose to answer. Now live with it!

  139. #139 lilady
    January 25, 2014

    “Cupcake” and other armchair lawyers need to know the difference between between defamation and libel as it pertains to statements made on the internet:

    http://www.traverselegal.com/internet-defamation/defamation-libel-slander/

    “Cupcake” and other armchair lawyers need to know that I have the evidence that has been perused by my husband and his colleagues who are attorneys, and have been advised that it is ample and actionable.

  140. #140 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    Ok quacks and shills,
    As we now ponder our lawsuits and counter suits I got thinking about something: Most of us are using pseudonyms , so will this not be a problem in winning our cases? First, how will we prove someone’s defamation damaged our character if we were hiding behind pseudonyms and no character was exposed?. Second, how do we show that someone’s defamation was not factual, and instead opinion based, if we were again using pseudonyms, and meaning that the slanderer could never really know us to where he could utter anything more than an opinion?

    Please help me with these questions before I waste my money consulting a lawyer. Lawyers can be such bastards. (Oh oh! – - really hope there are no lawyers in the house.)

  141. #141 Greg
    January 25, 2014

    Hate typing from a phone–’was factual…’

  142. #142 TBuce
    January 25, 2014

    I can’t wait to flush out my degree in court. Oh boy! — you guys are in big trouble now. (hee hee hee)

    Considering what you seem to have accomplished with your degree, to “flush” it out seems entirely appropriate.

  143. #143 Khani
    January 25, 2014

    That’s rich — Greg calling *anybody* else a bastard.

  144. #144 Denice Walter
    January 25, 2014

    It’s rather hilarious when anti-vaxxers talk about going to court because people call them WRONG – when they are wrong. Things haven’t worked out so well for AJW in court in the UK, at the GMC and so far, in Texas. (-btw- is Texas still part of the US or did it leave already?)

    Orac and his minions, like Deer et al, have a great deal of research and expert opinion to bring to the table whereas the anti-vaxxers have fanciful and imaginative confabulations that are not verifiable in the world outside of their heads.It they were, they could show their evidence.

    But that doesn’t stop them from accusing vaccine advocates and other SBMers from taking money, lying, harming children etc without ANY evidence whatsoever.

    If you read posts and comments in places like AoA, TMR and AI, you’ll find many statements that attribute malfeasance and corruption to both identified and pseudonymous persons.

    Actually, you’d think that *they* like Wakefield should be more worried about BEING sued than about suing others.
    Think about it.

  145. #145 Alain
    January 25, 2014

    Greg,

    You called me a drug pusher :)

    I did not call you on anything.

    Time to call your lawyer :D

    Alain

  146. #146 Alain
    January 25, 2014

    Off to smoke my cigar :D

    Alain

  147. #147 rancidbrainmatter
    January 26, 2014

    I can’t find her real name anywhere, and the tweets are deleted so I don’t think the whole world knows. At the risk of being shunned, I think expecting blogging anonymity to be sacrosanct is naive at best.

  148. #148 Narad
    January 26, 2014

    Well Narad, I am going to counter sue you for saying I was lying when I took my blood pressure in my doctor’s office.

    The only possible explanation for this remark is that you are so shockingly stupid that you have failed to grasp the meaning of “disclosed statements of fact.” In fact, I didn’t even state that you were lying, I stated that I didn’t believe you and noted that you are a known liar.

    Seriously Narad, what’s with the beef? I asked the question and you chose to answer. Now live with it!

    I have explained this in the relevant comment thread. Go address it there. As I’ve already stated, you are neither more nor less than simple narcissistic pollution here.

  149. #149 Krebiozen
    January 26, 2014

    Perhaps you do have a little more slyness than I initially gave you credit for. (hee hee hee)

    So you aren’t prepared to stand behind the accusations you have repeatedly made and put your money where your mouth is? You wrote:

    Also, the fact that you guys would hesitate and protest so much in giving a simple one-word answer to a straight-forward question demonstrates your insincerity.

    Your refusal to give a one word answer to my truly straight-forward question really does demonstrate your insincerity.

  150. #150 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 26, 2014

    Since when was Greg’s question even “straight-forward”? From the moment he started drawing a distinction between “believe” and “know”, he made it clear that he was asking a question that had far more possible answers than just “yes” or “no”, but didn’t want to let people have their actual answers available to them. That’s as “straight-forward” as “What’s your favorite animal in all the world? Cat or dog, one or the other, which is it?”

  151. #151 Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    January 26, 2014

    MESSAGE BEGINS——————————

    Shills and Minions (not ‘quacks and shills,’ you horrible, mewling, little dreg),

    There was some interest shown at the most recent Pappy Puffadder’s Phish Phry and PharmaPhuntime Jamboree in the exciting and terribly sensible idea of Fractional Obsidian Unit Ownership. In The Great Fleet, we have a wide selection of low-jump, pre-owned Obsidian Units available to those whose loyalty is beyond reproach (as in they’ve been implanted with an obedience chip). Of course, they’ll have been de-weaponized for the majority of you. Those of you who are rated for the more . . . interesting toys, will have the option of keeping these useful options armed. But remember the steep operational costs, toronic plasma doesn’t grow on trees.

    Those wishing to sign up must have achieved a properly double-signed, Class VII Shill Certificate. Minions must be chipped and have achieved a perfect score on the following levels: The Walll of Flaming Monkeys, Vanquish the Pit Slug, Haunted Hatchling Hell, and The Mystery of the Plutonium Laced Kitteh.

    In any case, we got a frantic missive from a certain box of lights the other day who was stuck in a dreadful hail of solidified dihydrogen monoxide. I’m sure this certain box has learned his lesson and will now happily direct a portion of his massive, daily influx of PharaLucre™ toward this exciting and generous offer. HINT: Go for the M’vaak XL7-T with the velour interior, delicious.

    If you have any questions, contact Miss Flinders at PharmaCOM Orbital on 7vv8888, and she’ll send you a lovely, full-color brochure. But don’t take our word for how much your life will improve. We have testimonials right from the monkey’s mouth . . .

    “I leave mine armed, uncloaked and hovering over the WalterCOM WorldDOM executive tennis courts, and now I win every match . . . natch.”
    – Domina Walter

    “Well, this lurvely program has allowed us to finally bin that earthbound, little Twingo van! The Other Mrs. Elburto and I couldn’t strafe the bloody, buggery beach at St. Tropez in that (expletive deleted) thing, now could we? Yippie kai yay (expletive deleted)!”
    – Cadre Leader, Class XIII Shill, Elburto

    See? Don’t you want to step up to Fractional Obsidian Unit Ownership today?

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
    Foreward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terrra, President, Honest Draco’s Used Unit Lot

    Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    01001100011100001111000001111100000011111100000001111111

    ———————————————–MESSAGE ENDS

  152. #152 Shay
    where we are being advised to leave at least one tap dripping to prevent pipe freeze
    January 26, 2014

    Before I buy, can Ms Flinders offer some information on how it handles on snow? We’re due for another three inches tonight.

  153. #153 Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    L5,
    January 26, 2014

    MESSAGE BEGINS————–

    Esteemed Minion Shay,

    Atmospheric disturbances are no match for the Obsidian Unit’s T’htzvak & Smith MkIII Ultra™ probability jump drive loci. Just be sure that you are at least 100 meters from any biologics or staionary objects when initiating jump. Of course, if jumping is not possible for some reason, the Obsidian Unit’s Realspace thrusters are more than capable of dealing with wind speeds up to 500kmph.

    Yours in pure pharma eeeeeeevillll,
    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
    Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Monkey Master of Mars, President, Honest Draco’s Used Unit Emporiæ.

    Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    00000000001111111111000000000111111111000000001111111100000001111111000000111111000001111100001111000111001101

    ——————————–MESSAGE ENDS

  154. #154 Scottynuke
    January 26, 2014

    @ Lord Draconis;

    Very kind of you to go through the motions of obtaining the proper licenses for the Mystery of the Plutonium Laced Kitteh — plausible deniability and all that.

  155. #155 Denice Walter
    January 26, 2014

    Draconis is being quite the jokester:
    would anyone seriously believe that I’d be caught dead riding around in such as bulky ill-designed vehicle even if it IS occasionally invisible?

  156. #156 Interrobang
    January 26, 2014

    When and where I adopted this nym, in order to be taken seriously, I had to post under a (relatively) non-gendered handle. Otherwise, it would have been either more or less “shut up, b*tch, WTF do you know about computers” or “tits or GTFO” all the time. (So, yeah, “vagina” is a good reason, in some contexts.) And I’m talking about on a fairly well-known (but at this point, well past its prime) tech talk discussion forum, not even a well-known internet Mos Eisley like 4chan. It too is a tissue-thin pseudonym, but I’ve had it for over 15 years now and I like it.

  157. #157 Narad
    January 30, 2014

    I’d settle for seeing what happens with Deer’s Anti-SLAPP suit in Texas (and Wakefield’s appeal).

    Any updates?

    Postsubmission brief and exhibits filed on the 23rd, although not posted yet.

  158. #158 Orac
    February 10, 2014

    Oh, fer cryin’ out loud. Greg Laden gets slimy about this:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/02/10/outing-a-pseudonymous-blogger/

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.