In case you didn’t know, Science Blogs is owned by a company called Seed Media Group. They invite bloggers, host them, give them tech support, and use their blogs to post ad content. And that’s it. Bloggers are offered small compensation based on blog hits, but for most bloggers, this ads up to very little. Blog content is independent in every way but one: blogging is by invitation only. Once you’re here, you can write whatever you want.
But conspiracy theorists are likely to be unimpressed by this. Seed’s ads are everything from major corporate sponsors to google adsense garbage that sometimes turns out ads for fake cancer cures and chelation therapy, but in the eyes of some, anyone who blogs here must be in the thrall some sponsor or other. This is of course impossible, given that the sponsors often offer contradictory services (Merck ads, anti-vaccine ads, etc). I have not infrequently had in depth and sometimes heated discussions with my fellow bloggers about various ads and whether and how they reflect on our images as individual bloggers.
The peace I’ve come to is this: to provide me with a place to blog, Seed needs advertisers. Despite this, they do not pressure me to write favorable pieces. There was a MasterCard ad up earlier today, and if I decided to slam the immoral usurious practices of the credit card companies, no one from Seed would say a word to me.
That’s why Age of Autism’s latest rant against Scienceblogs is wrong before it even begins. The entire post is blindingly stupid. I’m not stretching it too much to assume that one or more of my fellow bloggers are going to write a thorough fisking of the piece, so I’d like to share just a little helping of the stupid. In addition to the fixed, false belief that all seventy or so of us are in the thrall of Big Pharma, this guy can’t think clearly enough to write a coherent rant. Writing style can reveal a lot about thinking styles, so let’s look at an excerpt:
I was no exception to the rule, gaining a bit of “Science”Blogs infamy
myself: “The mindset of an Anti-Vaccinationist revealed:” one “Science”
Blogger’s thread-title screamed, “courtesy of Jake Crosby of the Age of Autism
Blog.” This was in response to my alleging a conspiracy “theory” and
stating those “14” or so “studies” were no more scientifically sound
than claims that the earth was flat. Ironically, the “Science”Blogger
then asserted I was part of a “cult,” and also said, “David Kirby…is
every bit as much a member of the cult as Jake.” I found it puzzling
that this typical “Science”Blogger accused me of conspiracy theorizing,
while concocting a conspiracy theory himself.
I like scare quotes; they are great for making subtle points about
“experts” like Jake Crosby, the author of the piece. But this idiot
abuses scare quotes so often as to render them meaningless. Look, if
your view of reality requires to place everyone else’s ideas in scare
quotes, perhaps you are the problem.
laughably complains about ScienceBlog’s “pre-programmed conclusions”
about vaccination and autism. Even if all the bloggers were a monolith
(which we most assuredly are not), perhaps when lots of smart,
knowledgeable people think you’re nuts, it’s time to critically
re-examine your own beliefs. Pre-programmed conclusions are the
measure of un-scientific thinking. The scientific community has asked
the question about vaccination and autism many, many times, and the
overwhelming weight of the evidence has rejected the hypothesis. It’s
an interesting idea, but it has failed. In science, when a hypothesis
is disproved by the weight of the evidence, it’s abandoned no matter
how interesting it was. The quasi-religious thinking of the Jake
Crosbys of the world are what lead us to label them cultists. Age of
Autism is a cult devoted to the fetishization of vaccines as the root
of all evil. It’s not just autism, despite the name:
Similar views are universally expressed about Gardasil, the HPV vaccine
linked to dozens of deaths and thousands of serious adverse events so
far and which does not even adequately protect against cervical cancer.
is is wrong in every respect. The evidence for the efficacy of Garasil
in the prevention of cervical cancer is strong. The evidence for harm
is essentially non-existent and limited to VAERS reports of events not causally linked to the vaccine.
thinks we are bad journalists. That’s fine, except that few of us
claim to be journalists in the traditional sense. He lashes out a the
mean anonymous bloggers (likely with a particular one in mind), forgetting that the messenger is not the message:
This has led to the vitriol emanating from “Science”Blogs, so much so that it has directly prompted multiple responses from Age of Autism, mostly to a “Science”Blogger using a fake name, hardly ethical journalistically.
he only had a brain. The fact that someone has a pseudonym (not a
“fake name”, idiot) does not invalidate their message. That’s called a
“straw man” argument. It’s one of the tools of muddled thinkers and
Crosby’s article is not a “revelation”. The
seventy opinionated bloggers at Sb are not in cahoots to achieve some
nefarious purpose—in fact, we disagree so often that our internecine
feuds garner more hits than our quality work. Many of us agree about
the science behind vaccines because we understand it and don’t have an
agenda beyond the promotion of science.
The AoA folks are a cult.
They start with a faith-based conclusion and find any excuse to promote
it. With scientific support collapsing around them, they have to reach
for the toolbox (read “bung hole”) of bad thinkers everywhere, pulling out dung heaps of logical
fallacies and conspiracy theories. They rest their persuasive powers
on fear, propaganda, and gullibility. And lest we mix up our logical
fallacies, the use of ad hominem statements does not invalidate an argument if
they are true. AoA is an immoral gang of thugs preying on the fears of
parents, happily promoting infectious disease. They are a danger to public
health, and a purulent boil on the buttocks of the internet.