Forgive me if I'm truly puzzled by this attack...

Since this seems to be the day for applying Respectful Insolence⢠to people who say stupid things about me...

Everyone knows that Dean Esmay and I don't exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things. Indeed, it could be safely said that Dean has nothing but contempt for me. It doesn't bother me. After all, I have to respect someone before his negative opinion of me can possibly bother me in the least. Between his HIV/AIDS denialism, his ignorant rants about cancer research, and his know-nothing conspiratorial "critiques" of the peer review system, Dean is clearly someone who has a far higher opinion of his scientific and medical knowledge than is in any way reality-based.

But his most recent broadside truly, truly puzzled me when a reader first made me aware of it:

I hear that a certain cancer surgeon of minimal accomplishment and minor note in the scientific literatur5e, who has made something of a blogging career attacking me, is throwing yet another hissy fit about Dean's World. Even though I only once posted anything negative toward him on this blog--when he basically called an acquaintance of mine a murderer without even reading the half-assed coroner's report that accused her of it--is now bloviating once again about this horrible series on cancer I'm posting. That series is, of course, written by scientists far more qualified, published, and accomplished than he is or ever will be.

This amuses me. Irk a minor bureaucrat-scientist with an MD who thinks he's a God one time, and he becomes obsessed with you and your blog for life.

Truly, I was puzzled, as I only found out about this "series" Dean is posting around the same time that I was made aware of his tirade. I had never even mentioned his series.

"Obsessed"? Let's see, in the two and a half year history of Respectful Insolence, I've mentioned Dean a grand total of four times on the old blog and eight times on the new blog (not counting today), two of which were reposts from the old blog. That's a total of ten original posts in 31 months, of which maybe half at the most could be characterized as being rebuttals of something Dean wrote! Moreover, I hadn't even mentioned Dean in nearly two and a half months. And blissfully so, I might add! Subjecting myself to Dean's ill-conceived ramblings about medicine might very well result in neuronal loss, and if I'm going to lose neurons I'd rather do it in a pleasurable fashion, for instance by drinking a fine beer.

So I tried to figure out what on earth Dean was talking about this time. Apparently, it was yesterday's post about the New York Times article describing the variations in cancer care and how hard it is for patients to negotiate them. So what's puzzling? Not once did I mention Dean in the whole post! His readers even pointed this out.

Given its total lack of having even mentioned Dean, the post that provoked Dean's attack surprised me. My first guess was related to the fact that Dean is publishing a "blockbuster series" of posts on his blog this week condemning the "cancer industry" and supposedly pointing to a better way. At first, I thought he was probably getting Peter Duesberg to tout his aneuploidy hypothesis of cancer or something like that. (Dean's head is so far up Duesberg's nether regions that if he sneezes, Dueberg burps, after all.) But then I remembered another possibility. I'm referring, of course to George L. Gabor Miklos, Ph.D. and Phillip J. Baird, M.D., Ph.D., who in May wrote a sweeping indictment of the entire cancer research effort in this country called Curing Cancer: Running on Vapor, Remedy: More Brainpower, Less Hype, which, as I pointed out when it first came out, completely underwhelmed me. Basically, Miklos and Baird's "radical new idea" to attack cancer consisted of better early detection and surgical resection of cancer (never mind that surgical resection doesn't work for leukemias) and finding out what predisposes a cancer cell to metastasize, because, you know, cancer researchers, blinded as they apparently are by dependence on big pharma and the government, would never have thought of such brilliant strategies on their own. Oh, no. According to Miklos and Baird, they haven't spend nearly enough effort looking at just those two things, never mind the hundreds, if not thousands, of abstracts and papers I've read on just those two topics over the years, the millions upon millions of dollars invested in such research by the government and medical imaging and testing companies, and the fact that these guys have apparently never heard of the real potential downside of detecting tumors at ever smaller sizes.

So, I'll answer Dean's broadside with a prediction: When Miklos and Baird are finally done leveling their criticisms about all that they think is wrong with our cancer research effort, some of which will have merit but most of which will be pontifications and bloviations, their solution will be to boldly proclaim once again earlier detection and more study of how cells from primary tumors develop the genetic derangements that allow them to become metastastic The Solution to the Cancer Problem That Scientists Are Ignoring. Maybe they'll also throw in a mention of Duesberg's aneuploidy hypothesis to make Dean even happier.

Just watch and see if I'm not correct.

I further predict that Miklos and Baird will once again fail to impress me much, so much so that I don't even know if I'll bother to fisk them or not. It depends upon how ridiculous they get and what my mood is. I'm going to be very busy with work later this week.

Finally, before I go, I'll suggest to Dean that, if he's going to launch into a childish tirade about me, he should do himself a favor and at least make sure it's over a post by me in which I actually criticized him--or at the very least in which I actually mentioned him. His attacking me for being "obsessed" with him based on a post in which I never even mentioned him smacks of projection.

ADDENDUM: I wrote this last night. However, I've become aware in the interim that the link to the original post now reads:

[This post deleted due to apparently innacurate information.]

Apparently Dean is as good at spelling as he is at medical science.

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I think the "murderer" thing Esmay was referring to had to do with your spot-on criticism of Christine Maggiore. Who did, after all, directly kill her own child (I won't say "murder", since I don't think there was malice involved)through her HIV denialism.

By the way, what has Esmay contributed to the world of science, medicine, or scientific/medical literature? Talk about throwing stones while living in a glass house....

when he basically called an acquaintance of mine a murderer without even reading the half-assed coroner's report that accused her of it

I do have to say, this is one of the strangest things I've ever seen written on a blog.

Actually, now that you mention it, I hadn't noticed that aspect of the post. Of course I read the coroner's report. (I'm pretty sure I still have a copy of it on my hard drive somewhere.) I also read Al-Bayati's fallacy-ridden attack on it.

This might generate a nice post on crank magnetism. Esmay is a perfect example of someone who is incompetent to judge science and scientific information, so he naturally is attracted to the crankiest nonsense there is.

Careful Mark, I bet you have a financial interest in not pursuing lines of research and argument that go against the official position of the grant gods who determine what causes AIDS and cancer.

This might generate a nice post on crank magnetism. Esmay is a perfect example of someone who is incompetent to judge science and scientific information, so he naturally is attracted to the crankiest nonsense there is.

Mark, you've got it all backwards. Dean Esmay is far more competent than those stupid, bumbling, corrupt scientists. What do scientists know anyway? All the world's problems could be solved in no time if we only let Esmay control research funding.

By Chris Noble (not verified) on 31 Jul 2007 #permalink

By the way, what has Esmay contributed to the world of science, medicine, or scientific/medical literature?

If you put "Esmay" into Pubmed, the search returns 7 results, two for a "JD Esmay" that could be J. Dean Esmay, I suppose. If so, he is a coauthor on 2 papers, first author on zero.

There must be a term for the accusation that people who rebut other people's blog posts or articles are "obsessed" with them. You see it all the time, even when the accusee specialises in rebutting that sort of thing no matter who the source is. The monomaniac fallacy?

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 01 Aug 2007 #permalink

Ginger Yellow: Projection, perhaps?

I agree with Dianne: It's simple projection on DE's part. His obsession with Orac has tainted his own perception to believe that there is an obsession on Orac's part.

Adrienne's right. Who is this cretin and what are his accomplishments to belittle Orac's work in the clinic and lab? Just more projection, I suppose.

Narcissism probably plays a role too, in addition to projection. Someone who automatically assumes others are obsessed with him/her must also presume him/herself to be significant enough to be an object of obsession.

Dean Esmay is a convert. He's had a religious revelation and now sees a need to proselytize. Do a comparative textual analysis of his postings on HIV and creationist writings sometime.