White Coat Underground

Web 2.0—your doing it wrong

As anyone who has been following the naturopathy thread knows, this blog often covers controversial topics. To help elucidate the problems, there is often vigorous debate, which I rarely censor.

I bring this up because of this blogs recent HONcode certification. As I told you, HON is struggling with the format of blogs. They are rather ambivalent about such a “free for all” format. Hence this email:

Dear DrPal,

We have recently received a complaint concerning your site:

It is regarding the post about the Naturopath Challenge.
We make it a policy not to involve ourselves too much in any Web 2.0 as
the posts/comments on these websites , though they may sometimes be deemed
inappropriate by one or another, are open, community participatory and the
whole purpose of such sites is self expression.
For this same reason, we did not see any initial reason to suspend your

Having said this, we do however ask all our certified websites to practice
and ensure the practice of respectful behaviour towards each other.
We realize that the subject of naturopaths and MD’s is a high ‘inflammatory’
topics amongst the professionals themselves, however it still does not call for
a breakdown of respect towards each other.

In the posts on your site, we did notice this however, in varying degrees.
e.g. “Mr. Franklin, your reasoning is rather anemic (but I’m sure there’s an herb for that).”
“My advice…either learn to accept reality, or learn to put extra salsa on the taco.”

“Let’s look at the physician who posted this blog. He looks overweight,
probably on a few anti-hypertensives to control his high blood pressure. He is
likely on a statin since he believes drugs are the cure-all for disease despite
the debilitating side effects.”

“Doug I haven’t called you a witch doctor once yet.

.. Because I have great respect for witch doctors.

At least THEY don’t pretend to be real doctors. ”

We realize that your blog, more than most, allows a greater spectrum of
free speech, however we request you to always keep in mind the importance
of treating all users with dignity and respect. This does not mean that
one cannot have a different opinion, only that it be transmitted in a
respectful manner.

Please note that you are obliged to respect the HONcode at all times as stated
in the ‘Conditions of Certification’ during your application for the HONcode.

We look forward to hearing from you on this matter and are sure that you
will appreciate our point of view on this matter.

Thank you for your co-operation,

Best regards,

The HONcode team.

My response:

As this type of vigorous debate is critical to a blog, especially one dealing with the changing nature of medicine, i will remove the HONcode certification until such as time is you feel HONcode and the format of blogs are more congruent.


The amusing part of this is that it was ignited by a complaint. Since I get complaints several times a day they don’t really bother me, but this is a clear instance of someone being unhappy about my lack of support for their particular medical cult. Since they have no science to fall back on, and the truth eludes them, they try to censor.

Of course, HONcode has nothing to do with what I write, it actually affects me not at all. Heh.


  1. #1 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    April 22, 2009

    Well, screw HONcode. This ain’t no Harry Potter book club.

    We realize that your blog, more than most, allows a greater spectrum of
    free speech…

    More than most? Seriously? What a bunch of pearl-clutchers.
    Thanks, PAL, for preserving our privilege to comment frankly and, when warranted, mercilessly when debating proponents of pseudoscience.

  2. #2 PalMD
    April 22, 2009

    and, I might add, Jen, allowing those who are full of crap to comment despite their wrong-i-tude.

  3. #3 Danimal
    April 22, 2009

    I think your response was the right one. Fuck HONcode.

  4. #4 Whitecoat Tales
    April 22, 2009

    Well my apologies, the witch doctor shot was mine – I still stand behind it though!

    I find the whole thing odd.

    I mean my blog is admittedly obscure, but the debate there has often gotten far less respectful than this despite my heavy handed moderation of the less civil posts, yet HONcode doesn’t seem to have any issues as yet.

    Maybe the difference is that I haven’t angered the correct people.

  5. #5 The Perky Skeptic
    April 22, 2009

    Oh. My. Gawd.

    Thank you for sticking by your blog, your format, your commenters, and the vigor of the debate on your site. You TOTALLY did the right thing. “Keep a respectful tone” is all too often code for “compromise your straight-talk and dilute the message of your blog.” Yay for you for not doing that!

  6. #6 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    April 22, 2009

    I agree. Frankly, I think respect is overrated, and is often an obstacle to open, productive discussions. Blanket expectations of respect are often coupled with the implication that all opinions are equally deserving, and that challenges to same opinions are unwelcome.

    Judging by how often these, er, alternatively opinionated folks mistakenly bray about ‘ad hominem’ attacks, I’d guess a fair number of people are unable to differentiate between disrespect toward them as an individual vs. disrespect toward their ideas. Quite a buzzkill, if you think about it.

  7. #7 Dr Benway
    April 22, 2009

    Insult is honorable. It serves the cause of peace-loving, who would rather avoid the hassle and civil liability associated with actually having to beat someone over the head with a tire iron.

    The Titmouse Code:
    – Don’t throw the first punch.
    – Don’t throw the first insult.
    – Don’t be a sadist or a masochist.
    – Don’t feign respect for ideas that don’t deserve respect.
    – Keep a rolled up newspaper handy for those who outrage reason and civility.

    Violence as enforcement of the rules does not equal violence against the rules.

  8. #8 Dianne
    April 23, 2009

    – Don’t be a sadist or a masochist.

    Except in mutually consenting situations with clear boundries and in which a safe word is agreed upon. And don’t get into any situations you’d be ashamed of explaining to the ER staff. (Sorry, Dr. Benway. I couldn’t resist.)

  9. #9 rob
    April 23, 2009

    so…the honcode people probably don’t watch House, M.D.

  10. #10 Patient
    April 23, 2009

    Thanks for standing up to the thought police! What a politically correct prissy bunch of censors. Humorous insults is what has made our country great, and I wouldn’t want to be a part of a world without them, thank you very much…I know now to stay away from any HONcode associated blog—evidently creative free speech is a danger to the delicate sensitivity of their minds.

  11. #11 The Blind Watchmaker
    April 25, 2009

    HONcode, not to be confused with HANSO Foundation. http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Hanso_Foundation
    Sorry. Got “Lost” on the brain.

  12. #12 george.w
    April 25, 2009

    Thank you. I very much enjoy your blog the way it is.

    “More than most”? Wow…

  13. #13 eddie
    April 25, 2009

    My safe-word is “It was osama bin laden wot dunnit, and he lives in a cave!”. Just in case.

  14. #14 Isis the Scientist
    April 28, 2009

    Fuck the HONCode. It fucking sucks.

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