A little more than a week ago, I took note of Dr. Paul Offit's new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine and a story in which he was featured in USA Today about the nonsense that is alternative medicine. The news story coincided with the release of Paul Offit's book, which of course led me to express my admiration for not only Offit's ability to write good books about topics that interest me but to garner the publicity of a major story in a national newspaper published the same day his book was released. No wonder he drives the antivaccine lunatic fringe so crazy.
What surprised me, though, is how long it took for that wretched hive of scum and quackery to launch a major counterattack, but yesterday the "media editor" of the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism (AoA), Anne Dachel, tried to do just that with a post entitled Industry Insider Paul Offit Attacks... Every Non-Pharma Treatment Known To Mankind. Of course, the job of the AoA "media editor" appears to consist of putting up links to science-based stories about vaccines (i.e., stories that don't accept the prevailing belief among AoA bloggers that vaccines cause autism and are, in essence, the root of all chronic disease in children today), thereby sending her flying monkeys to those articles to fling their antivaccine poo all over the comment threads. Yes, I know that this is a metaphor that I've used before, but it's so appropriate that I'll use it whenever I feel it's needed, as it is now.
Of course, Dachel's no slouch at flinging poo herself, and she does just that in her post. It's hard not to note (if you're me, at least) that not a single fact is presented to refute a single fact discussed by Offit in his book. It's all alt med and antivaccine tropes mixed with a liberal helping of ad hominem attacks on—of course!—Paul Offit. Why? Because that's all she's got. Paul Offit has science on his side. Anne Dachel does not. It's a simple as that. That's why she unearths this old, musty alt-med chestnut:
Offit goes after a number of people in his books, including celebrities like Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola.
The real danger seems to be that people are taking charge of their own health. The idea that diet, supplements, homeopathy, and alternative treatments like chelation and acupuncture can restore health and keep us that way, is of course a huge threat to the pharmaceutical industry and mainstream medicine---entities that profit from treating chronic conditions, especially with prescription drugs.
Yawn. I mean, seriously, Anne. Can't you come up with something better than the old "skeptics attack alt med because it's a threat to the pharmaceutical industry" silliness? That one's so old even Samuel Hahnemann thought it was hokey. Of course, Dachel isn't known for exactly being the sharpest crayon in the box of Crayolas; so she links to another article attacking Paul Offit. This time, it's an article by Leslie Manookian. You remember Leslie Manookian, don't you? She's the producer and writer of an antivaccine propaganda film every bit as egregious as either of Eric Merola's two movies about Stanislaw Burzynski, The Greater Good. When last we encountered her (actually, when last I encountered her in person), it was in Las Vegas during last year's TAM, where she was "moderating" a debate between one of Burzynski's buddies, Julian Whitaker, and Steve Novella about vaccines. It did not go well for Whitaker, as Novella easily wiped up the floor with him. It was, however, rather interesting to see both Julian Whitaker and Leslie Manookian up close and personal. In any case, Manookian posted an article on The Greater Good website entitled Do you believe in magic? No, but we believe in facts. Its very title made me laugh out loud, having seen just how much Manookian "believed in facts" when making her movie. Truly, antivaccinationists have a particular talent for obliterating irony meters.
Amusingly, Manookian starts out painting herself as being oh-so-honorable and "above" using insinuations of conflicts of interest (COIs), so much so that she didn't mention any perceived COIs when she included Offit as one of her token skeptics promoting science-based medicine against the tsunami of pseudoscience that she laid down in her movie:
Recently, two books have been published by Dr. Paul Offit, the leading proponent of vaccines in the US and one of the main experts featured in The Greater Good. The two books are called Do you Believe in Magic and Killing Us Softly. They laughably denounce supplements and alternative medicine like chiropractic, acupuncture and homeopathy as not only ineffective but even deadly. To be clear, when creating The Greater Good, we did not disclose the following information as we wanted to let Dr. Offit’s perspective stand on its own and not influence the audience with information about his potential conflicts of interest.
Except that it's not two books, as far as I can tell. It's the same book with different titles, depending on whether it's the UK or American version. (Notice the same title or subtitle, included in each book, The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine. Be that as it may, having apparently taken what she considers to be the "high road" with her movie, Manookian wastes no time in abandoning it in her post, launching what is little more than a pure ad hominem attack that is at the same time a huge heapin' helpin' of burning stupid, leavened with an almost as heapin' helpin' of non sequiturs involving attacks on "conventional" medicine so beloved of antivaccine quacks and cranks everywhere. Indeed, it's rather amusing to see what Manookian comes with because it's so pathetic, consisting of accusing Offit of being funded by the pharmaceutical industry.
She also likes to attack Offit because he actually has a successful scientific career and has developed an actual effective vaccine that saves lives. In other words, he has actual accomplishments that matter. I note that this is in marked contrast to Manookian herself, who, by all appearances, does not. She was a financial portfolio manager who "saw the light" and became an antivaccinationist moviemaker. Of course, none of this means that she might not have a point, but clearly, if she does, it has nothing to do with science, facts, reason, or evidence. All that leaves are attacks on Paul Offit, which she launches with relish:
Dr. Offit is a real hitter in the medical industry so people should respect his opinion as an independent voice on all these matters, right? One might want to consider the following before deciding. According to a 2008 report by CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson, “Offit holds a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children’s Hospital, funded by Merck.” Hmmm. So his position at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is funded by one of the leading vaccine manufacturers in the world. He also developed Rotateq, a rotavirus vaccine, together with Merck and according to Attkisson, “future royalties for the vaccine were just sold for $182 million cash. Dr. Offit’s share of vaccine profits? Unknown.”
But surely he is honest and discloses all his financial ties priding himself on transparency? Apparently not. According to a 2011 report in the Orange Country Register, Offit has no evidence to support his claim that Attkisson lied and that she sent him a nasty email. It sounds like perhaps he was the one doing the lying. And the OC Register goes on to state the following after their investigation: “the network requested (but Offit did not disclose) the entire profile of his professional financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies including: The amount of compensation he’d received from which companies in speaking fees; and pharmaceutical consulting relationships and fees.”
So why rehash all of Dr. Offit’s conflicts of interest? Merely to remind folks that being a doctor does not make one immune to the lure of financial reward, nor does it make one an expert on everything that doctor chooses. So when hearing about Dr. Offit’s farcical denunciation of supplements and alternative medicine as deadly, one might want to consider his financial ties as well as some other information.
It's rather amusing that anyone would take anything Sharyl Attkisson says about Paul Offit seriously. She is, as I have shown before, CBS's resident antivaccine reporter. That she was AoA's "reporter of the year" once ought to tell you all you need to know about her, but in and of itself saying so risks being an ad hominem attack. On the other hand, it's fair game to point out that Attkisson has not had what I would call a particularly reliable track record, having spewed antivaccine crankery on the CBS News website, fallen for the antivaccine line on the Hannah Poling case, repeatedly voiced antivaccine beliefs in her "journalism" about vaccines, sucked up to antivaccine hero Andrew Wakefield, and, apparently, blatantly collaborated with AoA.
So, let's recap. Manookian claims that Offit is attacking alternative medicine because he's in the thrall of big pharma. Yes, that's about it. Her evidence? Well, Sharyl Attkisson and her own deluded ravings. Of course, even if every thing she said was completely true, Paul Offit's COIs, if they existed, wouldn't necessarily invalidate what he writes. Certainly, Manookian can't invalidate Offit's assertions.
She might have at least had a fighting chance if she hadn't been able to resist discussing what I like to refer to as The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy. This is not surprising given that Manookian is a homeopath. In her own press materials, she states that she holds an degree from the Lakeland College of Homeopathy. So she brings homeopathy into her attack on Offit. It's truly amazing to see a homeopath lecture an actual pediatric infectious disease expert who has developed an actual effective vaccine on the science of infectious disease:
Seriously? I recognize some of these studies testing the magic water that is homeopathy. They are no proof that homeopathy works. Neither is this claim by Manookian:
Now back to the flu pandemic. Few folks know that in the early 1900′s there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, 100 homeopathic hospitals and 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies in the US.3 4 Hence when the flu pandemic hit, there was ample opportunity to assess the relative risk and success of what we today call conventional care versus homeopathic care. Normally when we read about the 1918 flu pandemic, we hear the horrors of how that flu killed over half a million Americans but one never hears how the fatality rate of homeopathic hospitals and physicians was but a fraction of that of the conventional hospitals. According to many accounts, the homeopathic hospitals lost 1%-2% of patients whereas conventional hospitals lost 20%, 25% or over 30% of patients. So much for homeopathy being nothing more than a placebo effect. (You can read physician accounts here.)
As I've pointed out before, this is a common claim among homeopaths for which there is no solid or convincing evidence Of course there’s a big problem here. No doubt homeopaths reported low mortality, but was there any objective evidence that this was true? How do we know that patients who got sicker under the homeopaths’ care didn’t go to real physicians or die without being followed up? We don't. Do we know that the homeopaths’ patients were comparable to the patients treated by “conventional” medicine? We don’t. None of this stops homeopaths like Manookian from trotting out the claim that during the 1918 flu pandemic homeopaths did better than "conventional" doctors.
If there's one quackery that is the quackiest of all, it's homeopathy. Manookian gets the history of homeopathy wrong, as well. The reason homeopathy appeared to do so well in the 1800s is because at the time conventional medicine did so poorly, to the point that it was sometimes worse than doing nothing, which is what homeopathy is. Purging, treatment with toxic metals, and the like were part and parcel of care at the time. As conventional medicine shed itself of these harmful treatments and became increasingly science-based and effective, homeopathy became revealed for the quackery it is. The early 1900s were the transition point. There were still a lot of homeopaths around, but it was obvious that homeopathy didn't work. One noes that the flu pandemic began in 1918.
In the end, the irony of someone like Leslie Manookian proclaiming that she "believes in facts" was just too much for my poor little irony meter in light of her being a homeopath and extolling the virtues of homeopathy. I really do need to invest in a military-grade, shielded meter. It will serve me well in dealing not just with Manookian but many of the believers in pseudoscience that I encounter. As for Manookian's risible attacks on Offit, I have to ask again, "Is that all she's got?"
The pathetic wooligans are out in force in the Amazon reviews too. It's clear that some of them haven't even read the book, and are little nanodachels.
One of them has pasted in a screed so logorrhoeal that it makes your typical output look like haikus.
They make me feel like a sad panda. Worse still, I'm feeling sorry for them, not at them. It must be awful being so utterly consumed by frothing hatred and rampant conspiracy theories.
I've just treated myself to the Kindle version. I'm currently reading another book that sends the health freedumb, ableist, conspiracy warriors into meltdowns, From Paralysis to Fatigue, so I'll be on double time so that I can get to Dr Offit.
. I'm sure the wooligans don't realise this, but 1 star reviews full of paranoid raving about 'Big Pharma', or the "psychiatric industry" are what recommend a given book to me. The case for purchase is strengthened by reviews containing key words and phrases such as: "Wake up sheeple!", "[author] is biased toward [the subject of the bloody book!]", "where is the balance?", 'natural', 'healing', 'supplement', and the jackpot - 'Gaia'. Special bonus points are awarded for claiming the author has a COI if they work in a field relevant to the topic of the book, and for the puerile practice of altering the author's name. "Paul Omit" and "Dr PrOffit" are weaker than a newborn sloth.
So she brings homeopathy into her attack on Offit.
If there were anything to homeopathy, then a 40C diluted argument ought to be devastating, right?
I'll stipulate that there has been no "homeopathic proving" of this remedy. But it's telling that nobody has tried.
Conventional care in the early 1900s wasn't as bad as a century earlier, but was still very different to, "what we today call conventional care" - no antibiotics for example. Some very dubious-sounding treatments were in use, such as injecting influenza patients with the serum of influenza survivors; a very crude attempt at antibody therapy
It would not surprise me greatly if no treatment at all, apart from clean water, air, decent food and bed rest (i.e. what was available in homeopathic hospitals) was better for some patients than conventional medical treatment even in 1918. These days? Not at all.
I read the comments to the AoA article.
I'd already read the one star reviews on Amazon.com which consisted of ad homs with a generous use of the Pharma Shill gambit. Predictable. Predictable and yet positively intellectual compared to the near gutteral howls of outrage and verbal poo slinging at AoA.
Are those AoA commenters okay? I'm a bit concerned for their health and well being.
The Amazon reviews are hilarious. I especially like the guy who tries to sound very sciency as he pushes milk thistle to cure hepatitis C.
There are lots of supplement pushers in the comments who are only going on Dr. Offit's NY Times Op-Ed. It is like the only thing they think is in the book is about supplements. What is really funny is the first review is a supplement pusher who claimed Mathias Rath was a reliable source. See:
Matthias Rath – steal this chapter.
I managed to post a reply to Manookian on the *CNN website (Sanjay Gupta interviewing Dr. Offit)
*Too bad that some people do not appreciate when I post on CNN and NBC blogs.
It occurs to me that while medical care a century ago wasn't all that great, it has improved a lot, and the trend towards heroic medicine meant that a lot of doctors probably just made things worse. Homeopathy, however, did no harm because, well, it did nothing, period. Conventional medicine has moved on considerably, and now does a great deal of good. Homeopathy is exactly where it was then. Their death rate in treating influenza is surely exactly where it was then. This should not be in any way taken as an endorsement of homeopathy, and it's a testimony to how selective homeopaths are in how they describe evidence.
Thanks for linking: everyone should know about that.
Did Dr. Salk catch as much undeserved crap and slander for his polio vaccine as Dr. Offit is now for his work?
Part of me wants to say probably (as the US population was much less educated and more religious at the time) but any opposing views to the polio vaccine seem to have been buried.
Krebiozen @3: The standard of medical care may well have been different, but by 1918 the crucial piece of information that proves that homeopathy cannot work, the value of the Avogadro constant, was known. That wasn't true in Hahnemann's day--Avogadro (a contemporary of Hahnemann) knew that there had to be a constant, but the first attempt to estimate its value came about a half-century later, in 1865, and the first lab measurement of the constant came circa 1910.
@ Dr Chris:
I think that the situation was different: parents were actively seeking protection from the ravages of what is now a VPD.
Currently, vaccine refusers now aren't overwhelmed by urgency because VPDs are mostly under control- thanks to vaccines.
I'm sure that there was some opposition- after all, Jenner was opposed in his day despite the quickly spreading, deadly nature of the illness he fought.
-btw- I think that Art Caplan had polio.
It occurs to me that while medical care a century ago wasn’t all that great, it has improved a lot, and the trend towards heroic medicine meant that a lot of doctors probably just made things worse. Homeopathy, however, did no harm because, well, it did nothing, period.
You probably know this already, but a good history of the development of medicine in the USA at the turn of the 20th century is John Barry's book The Great Influenza.
Chris @9, Politicalguineapig @10: We're talking about the 1950s, dudes. Trust in authority was much higher then than now (almost certainly too high). Also, the consequences of polio were apparent to people at the time: most Americans knew, or at least knew of, somebody who had been crippled by polio (recall that FDR was a polio victim). Salk offered a way for basically anybody who hadn't had polio by then to avoid such a fate. Education levels had nothing to do with it, and I doubt that levels of religiosity did either. There may have been some opposition from the usual suspects who are opposed to medical interventions in general (Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, etc.), but little to none outside of those groups.
I'm reading the book now, and what Dr Offit clearly shows is how much money the supplement industry is worth. While supplement pushers like to make out they are small operations unlike the large pharmaceutical industry, it just isn't true.
I hadn't thought of the comments on amazon so I'm off to give it a 5 star rating as soon as I'm finished. It is a great book.
Just a quick note on the OC Register "report": It's actually a correction, which seems to be based entirely on the say-so of CBS. I didn't find the original 2008 article (yes, it's a 3-year gap in the retraction), but all of the issues in the correction come from CBS providing documents saying, "that story just ain't true!" Here's the link: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/correction-296910-dated-entitled.html
It's not uncommon for reporters to hold on to notes for years at a time -- you'll never know when a story can come around to bite you in the ass -- but it's very unusual for a correction to be demanded on a hot-button issue 3 years after the fact. My suspicion -- and that's all it is at the moment, though I'm going to ask around since I probably know the people involved with this story -- is that Attkinsson was holding this in her back pocket as a way of generating a news bump later. There's no indication she did new reporting to "uncover" this truth, since it's based on documents she had for her 2008 story. I guess it's possible she wasn't aware of the Register's 2008 article, but at the time the Register was one of the top 40 largest papers in the U.S., if I recall; any journo worth his or her salt would know when his or her story was responded to in this manner by a paper of that size.
In short, it's not a report; the correction's based on a single, antagonistic source; and it came years later for no apparent reason. The whole correction stinks, and anyone citing it as a "report" ought to be slapped.
Her "Pharma Shill" attack got me thinking. Most of the people attacked for their medical/vaccination beliefs are doctors or researchers or related. They went to school, got educated on these subjects, and so it logically follows that they would get a job in the medical/research fields. Thus, making them "Pharma Shills".
It's like the perfect attack for these guys. If you get the education and then get a job related to your education, you automatically become a "Shill". According to them, you shouldn't be making any money in any job related to your education in order to not have some financial "ties" and therefore be in on some conspiracy.
It's like a win/win for these guys. If you know what you're talking about because of your education and job background, you're automatically in the pockets of somebody. It's an automatic argument.
I should probably go on to say, "Be careful of hitting submit until you've evaluated your words." I don't condone violence, and should have chosen a different colloquialism than "ought to be slapped" to underline that reprimands are in order for mischaracterizing both that correction and the nature of what it is saying.
But that goes both ways. Many of those arguing against science and pushing pseudoscience are actively making money as homeopaths, or running websites selling various dubious supplements. So they are shills to the supplement industry etc
If the shill fits ......
Well, yes, but they want people to ignore that little bit of information. It's the whole, "Don't listen to that guy, he's working for The Man, but buy my stuff because I have a Google PhD!"
If you want hilarity look at the self services reviews from the the *Thinking* Mom's Revolution book. Dunning-Kruger at it's finest.
Salk was lionized. It was considered a huge, huge relief for anxious parents, and the demand for the vaccine outran its supply when it first became available -- I know this through family stories at the time, like a medical doctor receiving exactly 3 bottles of vaccine. Even the glitch with a batch of the Cutter vaccine, which had some live, infectious virus and paralyzed some people including Brian May, did not create the kind of public craziness that we see with the current generation of anti-vaccine people. You can read a lot of that history on Wikipedia and other sites. The nation created a huge, fairly rapid campaign to vaccinate as many school children as possible, and the incidence of polio fell from thousands of cases per year down to almost nothing. I vaguely remember my elementary school having a day for doing the polio vaccine, with the students in long lines. I didn't have to go through the school vaccine because I had already had it at the doctor's office, but I can remember that within the span of a few hours, my school went from a low level of immunization to pretty much complete coverage.
I knew people who had survived polio (still know some) but I don't remember ever hearing about another case in any school I attended, ever since. As an aside, or perhaps editorial remark, I would add that the people who claim that the vaccine is useless, and that polio eradication is the result of sanitation, must be mentally challenged at some level. There are not many of them I don't think -- their numbers obviously are a lot less than the incidence of schizophrenics, for example, and I have to wonder about the ability of those folks to organize rational thinking.
By the way, I was asked to cover a class in introductory chemistry for a colleague who had a family emergency, and I ended up teaching the quantum chemistry part of atomic orbitals and so forth. You get to the part where the electron's position and movement are simply a probability distribution, and ask the students whether they find it a little confusing. I then explained to them that if they are not a little weirded-out by it, then they need to think about it a little more, because everybody who thinks about it finds it weird.
That having been said, the fact that water molecules bounce around and off of each other in a time frame on the order of a small fraction of a billionth of a second, and the fact that the interactions between the molecules is, in essence, the interactions of their collections of outer shell electrons, means that there is a huge randomness that accrues to their positions, motions, and interactions many times in even a billionth of a second. In other words, thinking about actual quantum chemistry rather than using the words as a magical token leads one to reject the concept of "memory" in water.
Even without resorting to quantum chemical uncertainty, the fact that there are a huge number of molecules bouncing off each other extremely often contributes almost total uncertainty anyway. Richard Feyneman explained this in one of his books aimed at the layman.
You get to the part where the electron’s position and movement are simply a probability distribution, and ask the students whether they find it a little confusing. I then explained to them that if they are not a little weirded-out by it, then they need to think about it a little more, because everybody who thinks about it finds it weird.
Elementary chemistry students, perhaps (well, among others),* but I wouldn't generalize. Jettisoning this baggage came as quite a relief to me.
* Sin-itiro Tomonaga is a vastly better choice.
I’m reading the book now, and what Dr Offit clearly shows is how much money the supplement industry is worth. While supplement pushers like to make out they are small operations unlike the large pharmaceutical industry, it just isn’t true.
Even better (for them, at least) they can't be as easily sued--so while they rant and rail about their perceived unfairness of vaccine injury funds, good luck trying to find an ambulance chaser willing to gun for ginko or garlic or maple syrup pushers.
You get to the part where the electron’s position and movement are simply a probability distribution
That's not confusing. Trying to solve the wave equations for the Schrodinger equation is confusing. Likewise, trying to apply the Pauli exclusion principle during a test is confusing. The s orbital is somewhat counter-intuitive, as is the f orbital (the s orbital is easy). But electrons as probability fields?
"You can read a lot of that history on Wikipedia and other sites."
Or another excellent Offit book, The Cutter Incident.
@ Bob -
, I would add that the people who claim that the vaccine is useless, and that polio eradication is the result of sanitation, must be mentally challenged at some level. There are not many of them I don’t think — their numbers obviously are a lot less than the incidence of schizophrenics, for example, and I have to wonder about the ability of those folks to organize rational thinking.
I'm going to make a deal with you. You keep the armchair ableism inside, and I won't have to tell you which orifice to shove it back into. OK?
We're talking about the tribe of muppets at AoA, whose stock in trade is the use of ableist language to other, demean, and denigrate anyone not neurotypical. We don't sink to that level, because we know what that kind of rhetoric can lead*.
There are too many people here at RI who've suffered immensely due to the kind of lazy thoughtlessness that accompanies such casual ableism. The stigma around intellectual disabilities and M I is bad enough without these walls, we don't need to ad faced with it from within.
* Up to and including death.
Arse. That's what I get for typing while blitzed.
Once more, with feeling (or corrections):
I would add that the people who claim that the vaccine is useless, and that polio eradication is the result of sanitation, must be mentally challenged at some level. There are not many of them I don’t think — their numbers obviously are a lot less than the incidence of schizophrenics, for example, and I have to wonder about the ability of those folks to organize rational thinking.
I’m going to make a deal with you. You keep the armchair ableism inside, and I won’t have to tell you which orifice to shove it back into. OK?
We’re talking about people like the tribe of muppets at AoA, whose stock in trade is the use of ableist language to other, demean, and denigrate anyone not neurotypical. We don’t sink to that level, because we know what that kind of rhetoric can lead*.
There are too many people here at RI who’ve suffered immensely due to the kind of lazy thoughtlessness that accompanies such casual ableism.
The stigma around intellectual disabilities and M I is bad enough without these walls, we don’t need to be faced with it from within.
* Up to and including death.
Would 6.02*10^23=the number of loons believing in alt/integrative med, supplements, homeopathy, bleach, chelation, TCM, hyperbaric chambers, anti-vax, baking soda (with/without maple syrup), reiki, therapeutic touch, enemas (with/without coffee), gluten/casein free diets, antineoplastons, et al, or is that estimate too low?
position of the electron as a probability distribution, as opposed to something akin to the orbit of a planet around the sun -- not the electron itself as a probability distribution.
Narad: Thanks for the link to the book. It looks interesting.
Regarding the ad hominem attack on me a couple of posts up, I guess I would ask how you characterize an argument that polio would have disappeared all by itself if only we had avoided giving shots to children and then, having characterized that argument, refuse my right to speculate on the intellectual and/or emotional qualities of somebody who is figuratively screaming that argument all over the internet and in public meetings designed to educate the public. It seems to me that making such evaluations is a core part of this blog, including the comments from a lot of its participants. And if you want to tell me to shove something somewhere, feel free to get in line (old joke), but I would suggest that to do so is just to adopt the tools and techniques of the people you ordinarily criticize the most. The issue I raised is legitimate, the topic is of importance in the public health arena, and the fact that people who are deluded (for whatever reason, emotional or physiological) are having some effect on rates of childhood vaccination right here where I live is very topical. It is not a matter of looking down on those less able or differently capable (if that is what you mean by ableism), but a serious concern about a public health problem that has been highly politicized in my home state to the detriment of innocent children. Or to put it more briefly, is this blog a private club that has its own rules of censorship defined by you, or can those who don't always agree with you in every particular also play? I don't recall writing angry comments attacking you personally, and I don't recall calling you names. I've never told you to shut up under threat of being told to do something anatomically difficult. I've been threatened by quite a few people in my lifetime under sometimes stressful circumstances, and I didn't treat it lightly when it happened in the real world. On the internet, separated by thousands of miles, it's just an irritant. If you wish to act that way, so be it, but I don't see why I have to join in a flame war.
elburto@28 -- I've admired your posts for many moons. I'm enlightened and intrigued by this particular post, because of the important issue of "ableism" that you bring to the fore - I deal almost entirely with healthy, "able" young folk in my work, and your post is a very useful reminder of how pernicious it is to lose sight of the fact that this is not the case for the whole human community.
it does, however, raise interesting, and in many ways insoluble, questions. BobG had speculated that the weirdly counterfactual beliefs of some antivaxxers -- which I know you detest as much as, say, the inimitable lilady does -- might have a basis in psychiatric illness. Psychiatric issues might be thought of as being in a different category from many other differences among people, in that they can cause actual delusions --- people become certain of things that are evidently not true. This can have terrible consequences for others (relatively indirect in the case of antivaxxers, but much more immediately devastating in the case of, say, a heavily-armed delusional schizophrenic). Do we treat such folks as simply "differently abled", or give them a category of their own?
What does a truly just and humane society do? I sure don't know. I don't think anyone really does.
Peace -- p
Wow. That's a lot of words trying to justify ableism, Bob.
It wasn't an ad. hom. either. It would be if I'd said "Your argument is meaningless because you're using ableist language" I didn't say that, did I?
What I said was that ableism is disgusting and dangerous. If. anything, you fell into the fallacious trap yourself with the "What would they know, they're obviously mentally challenged" routine.
Do yet believe that using ableism as a weapon is a useful technique? How about racism or sexism, a bit of homophobia here and there?
People who argue against vaccination are dangerous extremists. They are irresponsible and wilfully ignorant. Their lies and manipulation are not a political issue for me, they're an intensely personal slight. on who I am, and a threat to my very life.
It's clear that you can't quite grasp why your ableist language is so problematic in this context, so I'll break it down for you.
1. Virtually the entire foundation of the anti-vax movement is the lie that vaccination causes autism and other developmental disabilities.
2. These people refer to non-neurotypical and developmentally and physically disabled* people as "vaccine damaged", "broken", "stolen", "lost",and "soulless", among others.
3. Their argument is that death by vaccine preventable disease is better than life with a disability.
4. When presented with the fact that many disabled and chronically ill people are at greater risk of dying of VPDs they often claim that it's simply Darwinism in action, that the virus is cleaning up the gene pool.
5. It is not uncommon for these people to abuse, and even kill, their own disabled or non - NT. children. When they do so they are often lionised by their peers, told what good parents they are, and let off by the justice system because having to live with their (now dead charge) meant they'd "suffered enough".
Ergo, when you breeze in and spew back the same rhetoric as them, equating their deliberate cruelty and ignorance with developmental disability, then you're as bad as they are. You're saying "These. people are bad, they're doing the wrong thing, they must be mentally disabled".
I can bring a fairly recent comparison to mind, that of the media reaction to pretty much every instance of an American gunman mowing a group of innocent people down. Do they say "He must be angry " or "He's a truly awful man"? No . They claim that he must be autistic. or schizophrenic . Just like you they conflate wrongdoing with disability or mental illness, because Chthulhu knows there isn't already enough stigma around either topic, or enough fear or disgust at those of us on the receiving end.
Clear now? If the anti-vax monkeys sh¡t in their hands and fling it, you're not going to make them stop by curling one out into your own palm, and lobbing it into their cage .
*Disabled is a good, clear word. "Differently abled ", "less able" or "differently capable" are words that could apply to anyone, but they're apparently used by non-disabled or NT people in a clumsy attempt to appear politically correct when referring to PWD/PWMI/non-NT people.
You're not alone in this awkward habit, I have to witness it on a daily basis, jangling in my ears, or leaping. into my vision. "Differently abled /capable" is a point of much contention in various circles. Had I received laser sight when my regular sight failed, or been given the gift of flight when my legs stopped functioning, I'd be "differently abled ". Unfortunately I didn't, so instead of having the ability to kill people with a wink or to roast a chicken with a stare, I'm just left with a sensory disability. Similarly, the power of flight failed to materialise, so instead my superpower known as "inability to move unaided" means I'm physically disabled. Although, I will admit that being hoisted in a sling feels like floating.
BTW. - If. you're ever interested in learning how to respond to being called out for using language that hurts marginalised people, just let me know. I mean that sincerely, I have links to plenty of resources.
@palindrom - you posted while I was still typing, so I'll just quickly rattle. off something. I often say - mental illness isn't an excuse to be a douchebag. Generally if someone's being deliberately provocative or inflammatory it's something. they'd almost certainly be doing anyway, mentally ill or not!
The kind. of fixed, delusional beliefs that go.along with schizophrenic mental illnesses are typically just as distressing to the person with the diagnosis, if. not more so. Watching. someone in the grip of a fluorid delusion is very different to watching. the majority of the anti-vax crowd's stubborn refusal to heed facts. I've seen people with various MIs, eating disorders in particular, who know that all food. isn't poison, but can't make that inner. dialogue relinquish the claims it makes. With my OCD I am excruciatingly aware that doing Y. won't stop Z from happening, but knowing that truth, and feeling that it's safe to act on it feel like they're a million miles apart.
So obviously, anyone who is genuinely suffering compulsions or delusions requires help and support, and an understanding that it's not deliberate. The anti-vax crowd require a cluebat to the brain, perhaps in. the form of a trip to somewhere that VPDs roam unchecked.
Oh I see you used differently abled too! Haha, fab. Time to make a deal, I shall set up a campaign to equip. Disabled people with "different abilities". Peopl will donate a quid whenever they say it, and soon Earth will be populated by flying cripples and developmentally disabled people who can freeze time!
You guys are making me feel ancient. I remember the time before Salk developed the polio vaccine, when I lost my childhood friend to polio. I remember the vaccine trials and the actual day when the announcement was made that mass immunization against polio would begin. Parents were overjoyed and kids were enthusiastic, because we had survived the polio epidemics and we all knew children who were crippled from polio.
When those children who were immunized against polio during the 1950s, grew up (my generation), and started their own families, they had their childhood memories of polio and there was no question in our minds about the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine for our babies.
Now we have Anne ("I never met an autistic child when I was growing up") Dachel, who is my age and who issues "media updates", after she has spammed internet blogs...to send her cronies to post their inane comments. She is not mentally ill, but considers herself to have *expertise* in the fields of developmentally disabilities and vaccines. She, like the other bloggers at AoA, who are conspiracists and who fancy themselves as *investigative journalists*, derive satisfaction from trashing respected doctors, researchers and real journalists and the fawning admiration of their followers.
Narad: Thanks for the link to the book. It looks interesting.
Um, erm, OK. The payload was really in the footnote.
Now we have Anne (“I never met an autistic child when I was growing up”) Dachel, who is my age and who issues “media updates”, after she has spammed internet blogs…to send her cronies to post their inane comments. She is not mentally ill, but considers herself to have *expertise* in the fields of developmentally disabilities and vaccines.
She has a kind of obsessive delusion with a set closed mind that will not let her see any kind of alternative. It may be because she has a certain brain chemistry, or that she is from a background that discourages critical thinking. We will never know.
It is my personal experience to not equate those with whose mental handicaps that require special services with "dumb." There is great variation, and much to be learned.
I learned this when I was confused by our city's newly opened transit tunnel, the persons I asked sat in the front of the bus with reduced fare transit cards. They were not only knew exactly what I needed to know but were happy to give me proper directions.
Personally, I do not know what the definition of "ableism" is, but I know not to judge a person by their academic IQ.
I learned this the hard way, because I was an engineer married to an engineer and my kids were guaranteed to be brilliant. Dammit! Until the infantile seizures, the seizures from a gastrointestinal virus (perhaps rotavirus), and no speech at age three.
Hence the beginning of my real education. Woot.
* What upsets me is that she lives in the town my maternal grandfather retired to. It is my geographical association with my mother (who died when I was eleven). Ms. Dachel does not think like my maternal relatives.
Chris, Reuben blogged about AoA and the Dachelbot four days ago and a few hours ago *I posted.
*Cripes I'm sounding more and more like Anne ("I posted comments") Dachel
Narad -- OK, thanks for the link to the original book, and I guess thanks for the link to the other book, The Story of Spin. Maybe you were intending to do a deep sort of joke, in which case you richly succeeded. Maybe you find the history of early 20th century physics to be fascinating, and you meant that. Also good. Doesn't matter. They both work.
As for the rest of the back and forth, I'll just say that I still intend to avoid a flame war. If Elburto wants to lecture me that calling me names (first ableist, and then comparing it to other isms such as racism) is not an ad hominem argument, well, OK. What the heck. It's still an attempt to argue that I shouldn't be making a particular argument because it offends you, you think it's dangerous, etc etc. It's clinically indistinguishable from saying that the argument shouldn't be made not because it is inherently illogical or contrafactual, but because some reader might take offense or some other reader might be brought to rage. Let's just put it this way: If you lead off by calling me a name ("ableist" sounds like an insult to me,) and offering to tell me where to shove my words, that begins to sound like an ad hominem to me. Maybe you meant it differently. Hard to tell from 6 time zones away.
It's curious that you read all kinds of things into my words that really aren't there, and make all kinds of judgments about me based on essentially nothing. You know little or nothing about my physical condition, whether I do or do not suffer chronic ailments, whether I have suffered injuries or malignant tumors --- any of that. The fact that you like to write about your own conditions does not mean that others will automatically write about theirs. It's a matter of style, personality, and taste.
Lastly, I think that there is a class of mental illness, if you want to call it that, that results in paranoid delusions. This doesn't seem to be a new insight -- the major questions involve whether such people are likely to become violent against others, whether this is ever predictable, and what a free society can or should do about it. I can tell you that I live in a part of town that has a number of homes for schizophrenics, that quite a few of them walk around the town center most every day, that they are known to the locals, and that they never do any harm. A couple of them got mentioned in Joseph Wambaugh's recent novel Harbor Nocturne as local characters.
You seem to have the concern that some subjects are too dangerous or too upsetting to discuss. I don't think I agree with this as a societal norm, but there are some subjects that I don't ordinarily write about. But in my society, we put a premium on freedom of expression, particularly that which is political opinion. Over the years, the sick little bunch that is the so-called American Nazi Party has done its sick little displays, ultimately to no effect. It's the secret types who operate out of the public eye who are dangerous, and censorship of books or internet discussions does not stop them.
Finally, to argue that I use the same kinds of arguments as the anti-vaccination people is to demonstrate what I see more as anger than logic. That part is truly offensive. I disagree with your statement and stand by what I said. Some of those people are crazy. It's not just their political positions, it's their way of thinking that makes this clear. I'm perfectly willing to accept that some parents of autistic children don't want to face an unpleasant set of likelihoods and get some psychological comfort out of having some tangible externality to blame. This is not evidence of psychiatric illness. But it makes no sense to argue that psychiatric illness does not exist, that there is no such thing as paranoid psychosis, and that paranoid psychotics never become part of the anti-vaccine crowd. Of course, I'm not one of the commenters here who uses the term "tinfoil hat" as a joke. To the people who have these thought patterns, it's no joke at all, and they devote a substantial part of their life energies to catering to their own obsessions. Perhaps you should direct your anger at commenters on this blog who make fun of the truly mentally ill. As for me, I conclude that there are people who really, truly believe that some beings, extraterrestrial or otherwise, exert controlling effects on them unless they protect themselves. If you want to call me ableist for recognizing that these people have a physiological condition that results in delusional thinking, then go ahead. It's a strange way to use a word.
"That one’s so old even Samuel Hahnemann thought it was hokey."
Is that a joke, or did Hahnemann actually diss the pharma shill gambit?
After following various anti-vax and alt med outlets ( blogs, websites, alt media/ internet radio) for years, I don't think that outspoken followers are MI or DD but are people within the range of average intelligence and functioning who have some very odd notions and who are quite susceptible to the hard sell delivered methodically by woo-meisters ( *et maitresses de wu*). Usually they hold a grudge against the powerful/ experts for diverse reasons and are easily manipulated emotionally in this fashion. Often, they lack critical thinking skills and although they may be educated, it is often in an area that doesn't rely upon research and statistical methods ( e.g. business, liberal arts etc).
Seth Kalichman, who fearlessly trod amongst the hiv/aids denialists, believes that the *leaders* of contrarian movements may sometimes have more serious problems ( NPD is mentioned as a possibility for a few standouts, Duesberg and Null).
I look at anti-vaxxers and natural health fana... I mean, FANS as a sub-culture that shares some characteristics with a cult- especially about how externally supplied information is either curtailed or explained as being inauthetic or un-trustworthy. Woo might be seen as a political or even a religious movement.
I similarly don't think that those who believe in UFOs or ghosts are MI or DD as well: they are perhaps incognisant of how their own mind operates. Woo is especially attractive to those ill-versed in life sciences and paranormal/ psychological woo is easily accepted by those without much of a background in psychology and other social sciences.
You'll notice that alt media and woo targets the MOTIVES of SBM supporters ( money, power, fame)- obviously this focus is an effort to seduce followers away from turning the same lens upon them themselves and their motives. They are NOT in it for money or fame or power- or so they tell us repeatedly. There is a tendency anongst both the leaders and followers to attribute negative outcomes to EXTERNAL factors. Autism is due to medical malfeasance, cancer is caused by ingestion of a poor diet, mental illness is caused by meds etc. External attribution is not a symptom but a quirk or style altho' those with more serious illness may also use it.
Woo is also a path to success and recognition to many of the leaders and followers who emulate them. Notice the number of books being sold or films being made by the faithful.
As a laboratory animal veterinarian, I am occasionally the recipient of phone calls from, um, differently educated types who, besides telling me to burn in hell, also tell me why "my" science doesn't work. I'm usually civil, but one lady provoked me to hysterical laughter with, "If we all just ate the God-approved vegan diet and stopped putting fluoride in the water, then autism and all these diseases that you kill animals while researching would all go away!" How much stupidity can you fit into one sentence?
I get the sense that Bob G was trying to make a distinction between the truly mentally disordered--not NT, if you will--and the irrationally or willfully ignorant. For example, I've never been at all good at sports, I find it really difficult to take directions like "hold your arms that way and release with a flick of your wrist to get the basketball into the net" and translate those to physical actions that succeed. In school I could be walking down a flat level hallway, in sneakers or flats, and suddenly roll my ankle and end up sprawling. I am a klutz. To use that term to describe someone with cerebral palsy would be very unkind. But when applied to me, it is a succinct and well-understood term that gives a very accurate word-picture of my coordination "deficiencies" and is not the insult that it would be for a person with a birth injury.
I get that it's not nice or kind to use a term that describes persons of different or diminished mental capabilities as a slur. But what to use in its place? I'm being earnest, really. When that jerk driver cuts you off and then gives you the finger, you mutter "moron" and go on about your day, although in truth asshole is obviously a more accurate and fair term. So what metaphors or similes could legitimately be used to describe people like Dachel, Crosby and the like that takes into account their heinously flawed thought processes without using slurs that demean people with legitimate mental issues? Preferably a single word or very short phrase rather than a slew of words. Shitforbrains? Ignoranus? (no that's not a misspelling) Vilethinker?
@Janet - all of it, obviously!
Absolute hilarity from Ginger Taylor at AoA:
Over the last several months, Tim Bolen, whom most of you never heard of until all this drama started early in the year
We crossed wires- interesting because I also included something on hyperconnectivity ( over at the thread wot Greg f@cked over.
[Memo from the Slot to Olmsted: "Health Freedom advocates like Robert Scott Bell and Tim Bolen joined with familiar faces like Louise Kuo Habakus" definitely doesn't mean what you apparently think it does.]
Mercola is a celebrity? In what universe?
Ah, now we are seeing the "who gets the blame for bringing 'Tim' Bolen into our community" fight.
And, somehow, the Geiers get the crap dumped in their front yard?
I need a new 20lb bag of popcorn.
OK Bob, please just answer me this- you implied up there that ableism is not like sexism, racism or homophobia. Why?
Why is discriminating against someone (actively or passively) because of their disabilities any different than discriminating against someone because of their sex/race/sexuality?
Please think very carefully before answering, because if you're implying what I think you're implying, then that's incredibly troubling.
Also, where did I (or anyone) deny that paranoid psychosis didn't exist? The trope of the violent, dangerous, obviously mentally ill person is utter crap. People with mental illnesses* are more at risk of being victims of violent physical assaults, sexual assault, domestic violence, and emotional abuse, than they are of being the perpetrators.
The popular media image of the shuffling, muttering, shambolically dressed and (this is the important part) visibly mentally ill person is just that, an image. You'll walk past fifty people on a walk to the shops, with mental illnesses, and you'll never notice them. You cannot tell who is/isn't mentally ill just by looking at them.
What I did say is that people who suffer delusions as part of a disorder do not stand proudly, claiming that they are the sole bearers of truth, like the anti-vax muppet brigade do. Delusions can be absolutely terrifying, and the compulsion to act on them even more so. Sufferers are not attending chatty little meet-ups of their local "Mommies Against Medicine" chapter. They're far mere likely to have isolated themselves in their room, desperately battling the demands that their delusions and compulsions exert on them. That's why these things are called "disorders", because they're actively distressing.
Presumably you know some women. You may know someone who suffered from postnatal psychosis. These women are beset by delusions and compulsions that would rival those of any paranoid schizophrenic, yet for some reason they're afforded the kind of tolerance and sympathy that many "regular" sufferers of psychosis could only dream of. Why? Same symptoms, same distress and terror when facing those symptoms, and actually more of a risk to others than your average schizophrenic is.
Attitudes like yours have a lot to do with that, but my main point is that delusions as a symptom of illness are traumatising and shameful to the person suffering from them. The anti-vax and science-denying cohort do not suffer their delusions, they are proud of them. So calling them "mental" or "nutters", lumping them in with people who are suffering, and conflating "bad" with "mad" is ableist, whether you like it or not.
With regard to your grievous wounds from being called out on your ableism, why not ask anyone here who has been on the other end of ableism, personally or because of their child, how that feels. You get to laugh off the word "ableist" and walk away, but it's not so easy to ignore being told that PWD, PWMI and non-NT people should be euthanised, that they're a waste of money and resources, that their lives are utterly meaningless.
I have called out others for their ableism Bob, you're nothing special bucko, and I will continue to call out language or behaviour that is bigoted, hateful or demeaning toward any marginalised population. So sue me. The problem is, as you've shown, that many people think that ableism isn't as serious as other prejudices. I can't wait to hear your justification for that stance. Like I offered earlier there are numerous resources out there that explain social justice issues like racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and classism. They explain the pervasive and pernicious effects of these prejudices, offer statistics that illustrate the scale of such demeaning attitudes, and explain how to be genuinely aware of any privilege you possess, and how ignorance/denial of it may be causing harm to others. Happy to provide as many links as you need.
*This is true for anyone with a physical, mental, learning, developmental, or neurological disability, or disabling chronic illness. . People with problems that would have once had them classed as "retarded" have a sexual assault rate of 80%. Vulnerable people suffer abuse and violence disproportionately when compared to their overall numbers in the population. Here in the UK, the rate of hate crimes against people with all sorts of disabilities has trebled in the past two years. That's just those being reported, as most people are too scared to involve the authorities, due to the widespread view that the civil rights of disabled people are not important in comparison to those who are BME (black or minority ethnic) or LGBT. We've had a glut of murders and murder-suicides. So called "mate murders"- where vulnerable people are tortured and killed by their able and NT friends- are distressingly common.
Apparently their definition of celebrity is as twisted as their definition for everything else!
I have a pretty strong sense that 99-44/100% of the AoA commentariat was happily familiar with Bolen well before this low comedy graced the stage. L-rd knows that Schnaut has dredged up Bolen repeatedly.
Right, Bolen is the brave health freedom fighter who has taken on the almighty Barrett thus he had instant cred in woo-topia.
I find it intriguing how Taylor goes to great lengths to show how everything is hunky dory in anti-vaxland-
funny, but I see nothing about Jake ... perhaps I skimmed over her Meisterwerk too quickly.
I think Jake has been scrubbed from their collective memory, along the lines of "Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia".
trying again with different spellings of bad words, sorry in advance when double post pops up
I get the sense that Bob G was trying to make a distinction between the truly mentally disordered–not NT, if you will–and the irrationally or willfully ignorant. For example, I’ve never been at all good at sports, I find it really difficult to take directions like “hold your arms that way and release with a flick of your wrist to get the basketball into the net” and translate those to physical actions that succeed. In school I could be walking down a flat level hallway, in sneakers or flats, and suddenly roll my ankle and end up sprawling. I am a klutz. To use that term to describe someone with cerebral palsy would be very unkind. But when applied to me, it is a succinct and well-understood term that gives a very accurate word-picture of my coordination “deficiencies” and is not the insult that it would be for a person with a birth injury.
I get that it’s not nice or kind to use a term that describes persons of different or diminished mental capabilities as a slur. But what to use in its place? I’m being earnest, really. When that jerk driver cuts you off and then gives you the finger, you mutter “moron” and go on about your day, although in truth a*hole is obviously a more accurate and fair term. So what metaphors or similes could legitimately be used to describe people like Dachel, Crosby and the like that takes into account their heinously flawed thought processes without using slurs that demean people with legitimate mental issues? Preferably a single word or very short phrase rather than a slew of words. Sh!tforbrains? Ignoranus? (no that’s not a misspelling) Vilethinker?
Mercola and Adams are easy targets.
However I searched and cannot find any posts on much more reputable groups advocating supplements like the Life Extension Foundation. They typically support their positions with extensive citations.
Can anyone tell me why?
Magic cookie, please...
Does anyone know how much Mike Adams of Natural News makes off of his advocacy of all the dubious stuff promoted on his website?
I'm getting a bit tired of those of us who support evidence based medicine being called shills for various industries when those making the claim are often homeopaths or making money in one way or another off of these therapies.
However I searched and cannot find any posts on much more reputable groups advocating supplements like the Life Extension Foundation.
I must question the description of the LEF as "reputable". I would have gone for "magical-thinking, climate-change-denying loons" myself.
Can anyone tell me why?
I can only speculate that the LEF has not come to the attention of our host at RI. There is nothing to stop you blogging on the subject yourself, however.
So what metaphors or similes could legitimately be used to describe people like Dachel, Crosby and the like that takes into account their heinously flawed thought processes without using slurs that demean people with legitimate mental issues? Preferably a single word or very short phrase rather than a slew of words. Sh!tforbrains? Ignoranus? (no that’s not a misspelling) Vilethinker?
I too have been making a sincere effort to replace the slur words I used to use reflexively.
As it turns out, Derp may have a technical meaning.
English has no word for "the constant, repetitive reiteration of strong priors". Yet it is a well-known phenomenon in the world of punditry, debate, and public affairs. On Twitter, we call it "derp".
So "derp" is a unique and useful English word. Let's keep using it.
That is one.
I must question the description of the LEF as “reputable”. I would have gone for “magical-thinking, climate-change-denying loons” myself.
Moreover, it seems nearly impossible to turn "DHEA! DHEA!" into a compelling protest chant.
I like it!
It also brought back memories of one night on watch at some unmentionable hour of the night (technically morning but it was still deeply dark) in the middle of the Pacific where other ships were rare indeed. My supervising officer (OOD for those in the know) and I had this hysterically funny discussion of the nuances of various words that may well be more universal than I realize, but they are old enough now that I just figured they were passe in the way that 50s/60's slang was for me in my teens in the late 70s. Words like dork, twerp, nerd, twit, dweeb, geek, doofus...but these seem to me to carry a certain sense of hapless awkwardness that doesn't capture the nuance of belligerent refusal to consider logical thought where it should be used.
Derp...I don't used twitter or much social media, by choice--I don't need yet another thing to fail at keeping up with, can barely get the daily paper read, and it's far from the size of a major metro paper--but so far it's the best I've heard that has the meaning I'm after. I guess I must practice using it so that it becomes a real thing to me since it's not in my regular usage. Maybe there's a word from one of Lewis Carroll's books that could be resurrected for this purpose, too?
A few things:
LEF and AAAAM both cordially welcome Gary Null to their events. Enough said.
I've never been able to find figures on his earnings. He has several companies: alt media woo-casting/ selling ads (NN), selling supplements, foods, media etc, a share of an organic food suppliers ( GPDB), other MLM magic foods, a software company, publishing, a "charity" and may have offshore business as well (he talks about his dealings with China; he lived in Ecuador).
I've gotten 10 million USD per year for Null ( spoke.com/ manta.com): I wouldn't be surprised at all if MIke was well into the 7-figure range.
-btw- some doc talking back to the Vaccine Machine quotes 8 million USD for Mercola in the past few days.
I too search for words to describe their tomfoolery, poppycock, balderdash and folderol:
stupid, wanker, idiot**, self-serving and self-servicing, twit,
arse, dumb bunny, jerk, waste of time, woo-enabler, whimsy-based thinker, reason-deprived, a few cards short of a deck, more nerve than brains, lazybrains etc.
**I am careful with "idiot" because of its early medical usage however I think that it has gradually acquired an independent meaning that has nothing to do with a DD-
in other words, an average person who is not using his or her ability to the fullest extent.
Perhaps *Quel idiot!* would be clearer.
Or as my late father would say "Quel stupid@ass!"
What a coincidence. I was notified that Dr. Offit's book was available at my local library today and dove into the book to came across the case of Joseph Hofbauer, a child whose parents denied him treatment for Hodgkin's disease...opting for Laetrile.
The child's NYS doctor reported the parents to CPS and from there the case became quite complicated. The original decision of the judge, permitted a "trial" on Laetrile for six months, under CPS and the court's supervision if the parents
could locate a NYS licensed physician willing to prescribe Laetrile and closely monitor the child.
"...Joseph Hofbauer was a 9-year-old with Hodgkin's disease. Unlike Chad Green's parents, Joseph's parents never allowed him to receive appropriate treatment but insisted that he receive Laetrile and "metabolic therapy." When New York State authorities attempted to place him in protective custody, his parents filed suit and convinced family court judge Loren Brown to let the parents make the treatment decision. Brown stated that "This court also finds that metabolic therapy has a place in our society, and hopefully, its proponents are on the first rung of a ladder that will rid us of all forms of cancer." The parents rejected standard treatment, and Joseph died of his disease two years later. Acute lymphocytic leukemia and Hodgkin's disease both have a 95% 5-year survival rate with appropriate chemotherapy..."
The quack who administered the Laetrile also gave Joey raw milk, raw liver juice, Staph bacteria infected with a virus, pancreatic enzymes known to dissolve the lining of the colon, massive doses of vitamin A, a "vaccine" supposed to protect against all cancers, daily coffee enemas, "autogenous vaccine" (made from bacteria in Joey's urine)...and other pig enzymes. That doctor, Michael B. Schacter, was a psychiatrist.
Chris and I had a run-in with Dr. Schacter, who still has his practice in Suffern, New York, on Mary Holland's rebuttal to Arthur Caplan:
Too bad, the comments section is now closed. I would have liked to take on this quack.
@lilady - I had to put my copy of the book to one side after reading about young Joey. Luckily it's the kindle version (using the app on a generic android pad), so a quick swipe of my thumb can pull up a distraction.
The case was just so frustrating and tragic. The book is brilliant so far though,, and is making me want to squander this month's food budget on the kindle versions of Dr Offit's back catalogue!
Too bad, the comments section is now closed. I would have liked to take on this quack.
Which is why I am so glad to get in the word.
Thanks for the info. It is ridiculous how these people attack doctors for making money treating people while they make so much more peddling useless and dangerous information and products
I just started the book, when I came across Schachter's name.
Isn't he dopey to be posting any comments, anywhere...now that Dr. Offit's book is out?
Here's Schachter's website which is chock full of quack alternative medicines. He also has a dispensary on site, where he sells vitamins, herbals supplements, and you can order the stuff for mail delivery.
I checked NY State's OPMC (Office of Professional Medical Conduct) to see if he has a history of disciplinary charges/sanctions by the licensing board. He's clean, but then the OPMC only has records listed from 1990 on forward and Joey died two years after he was diagnosed, October 1977.
I'm going offline for now...to read Dr. Offit's book...catch you tomorrow.
Which is why I am so glad to get in the last word.
LEF and AAAAM both cordially welcome Gary Null to their events. Enough said.
They seem to be working the same side of the street, so it is a tribute to the strength of collegiality and professional courtesy that they see one another as colleagues rather than competitors.
I see that the LEF is still pushing anorexia the calorie-restriction path to longevity. I suppose it has the advantage of creating a market for dietary supplements.
I used to hang out with the LEF crowd some 35 years ago when if you wanted to troll people, you had to do it through typed letters rather than the Intertube (but try telling that to kids today!). They struck me as misguided, but sincerely and entertainingly so. There was a substantial cross-over with the L5 Society and Drexler's nanotech believers (all coming under the umbrella of the Whole Earth Review).
Now they seem to have been taken over by Glibertarians and grifters (but I repeat myself), smart enough to peddle selenium rather than colloidal silver. Am I misreading them, perhaps? Or were they always like that and I was too naive to notice?
Am I misreading them, perhaps? Or were they always like that and I was too naive to notice?
I think they were always like that, but their position was more tenable 20 or 30 years ago than it is now. A lot of their core principles no longer hold water (such as the idea that large doses of antioxidants can prevent illness and ageing), and I think they are largely left with nowhere to go. They do at least try to support their positions with scientific evidence, which puts them a notch above some quacks in my book.
I hadn't looked at the LEF for a long time, so I had a quick browse of their website. I was amused to see that they found their members have elevated fasting insulin levels, despite their intake (I assume) of expensive supplements and drugs that promise to prevent this. Much of the article is a hand-waving exercise in explaining this away.
I also like their article on the dangers of starch, which can cause insulin spikes. The answer, I would have thought, is to advise people to eat less starch, but instead they recommend taking transglucosidase (TGD), a supplemental enzyme that breaks down starch into indigestible oligosaccharides. They claim that TGD is, "one of the only known natural enzymes that can prevent the progression of prediabetes to full-blown diabetes"; however the reference they give to support this claim is to this study.
In this study they gave 21 healthy volunteers high starch test meals with or without TGD. They then measured plasma glucose and insulin (area under the curve, actually to estimate the amount of glucose absorbed and insulin secreted) after these test meals to see what difference they found, if any.
The results are underwhelming: a small but statistically insignificant difference in glucose (p = 0.069), and no difference in insulin at all.
What do you do if you can't find any significant differences? A sub-group analysis, of course. Taking the 17 subjects with the highest glucose, they managed to find a difference in glucose with or without TGD that had p < 0.05, barely statistically significant, and insulin p = 0.099, not statistically significant.
I don't think this is very good evidence that TGD can prevent diabetes.
I know this is just a snapshot of the LEF, but it is consistent with my previous impressions of them, that in general they have preconceived ideas that they cherry pick poor quality studies to support.
Sigh. I seem to be losing my proof-reading skills. Please ignore the underlining in the last 4 paragraphs. The link ("this study") works.
Herr Doktor Bimmler
I must question the description of the LEF as “reputable”. I would have gone for “magical-thinking, climate-change-denying loons” myself.
Perhaps the bar for "reputable" among supplement peddlers is so low that the Trinidad & Tobago Limbo Champion could not get under it.
What does Climate Change Denial have to do with "life extension"? Is it a case of supplement peddling ==> libertariansm ==> AGW Denial? AGW Denial appears to be Creationism for Atheists.
Is it a case of supplement peddling ==> libertarians ==> AGW Denial?
That strikes me as the parsimonious explanation. The denialism is not central to the LEF mission, in the way that lobbying to have the FDA disbanded is central, but it struck me as symptomatic.
Their in-house search engine reveals the following themes:
1. Climate change is not happening, and the so-called "consensus" across climatologists is merely evidence that consensus has no place in science.
2. Climate change may be happening, but there is no evidence that it is anthropogenic.
3. Climate change may be anthropogenic but there is nothing we can do about it.
4. We should not do anything about anthropogenic climate change because a warmer planet would bring economic benefits to those of us who plan ahead and buy land in high, cold places.
I suspect that the life-extension enthusiasts I knew all those decades ago were more affiliated with the cryonics side, though this was before the head-freezing and the pill-peddling operations had diverged so far.
Maybe a bit OT, to rebound on the topic of description in media of people with schizophrenia/autism, or of the money-grubbing doctors gambit. There may be some hope :-)
Last Monday, I was watching reruns on the French TV of the US series The Closer, and they were on a roll against wootopia. I was quite pleased by their take on it.
Beware, spoilers aplenty below.
The first episode was about the murder of a CAM doctor. The prime suspect was the dad of a schizophrenic teenager - he was understandably upset when he witnessed his son's behavior deteriorate after he switched conventional drugs for the (expensive) holistic treatment of the woo doctor. For a fleeting moment, his son - the patient - became a suspect himself, until Chief Johnson started to zoom in on the true murderer (with a nice application of the "Checkov's gun" trope).
I found the schizophrenic teenager was portrayed more as a mix of autistic/schizophrenic, so maybe there was a bit of inaccuracy through a mix of stereotypes. Or maybe he was supposed to be both autistic and schizophrenic. I don't really know much about either condition, so it's hard for me to tell.
Still, the episode allowed a good chunk of time for the viewer to empathize/sympathize with the schizophrenic boy, by highlighting the drama of his everyday fight against his conditions, and how unsettling it could be for him to find himself suddenly in a completely uncontrolled situation, like locked in a dark room with a corpse.
Which is exactly what the murderer (another woo doctor) ruthlessly did to him.
The second episode was about a murdered oncologist.
The victim was sharing his office with another oncologist, and one of the inspectors trotted out to the still alive (and definitely on the arrogant side) doctor a polite version of the "doctors are greedy bastards' gambit. To which the doctor thundered back something on the line "Does this badge of yours come free?" (afraid some got lost in translation) - and proceeded to ask him, in short, why do you expect me to work for free for treating sick people while yourself are drawing a salary for another job of public interest, namely catching murderers?
It turned out the culprit was embezzling money by providing the two doctors with false chemotherapy drugs, and the first oncologist was murdered when he found out his patients keep dying as if they were not treated - that is, very fast.
Bit of overview here, not a word on how a cancer, treated or not, could be by itself very debilitating. It was sort of implied, but not clearly stated. It could let the viewer feeling that the issue is between dying peacefully of cancer or suffering through treatment, and this is, unfortunately, not correct. Especially since one of the oncologists' specialty was pancreatic cancer.
Well, woo-friendly viewers could also rightfully complain how conventional drugs were portrayed in both episodes as life-saviors, always working. Which is unfortunately not true - sometimes, drugs don't work, or just delay the inevitable. Still, they tend to work better than sugar pills, so maybe this portrayal was excusable for the sake of brevity and simplicity. Or maybe I missed the part where this was put in a more nuanced way.
The murderer tried to justify his actions by saying how chemotherapy is just poison and he was giving the patients hope and side-effect-free time to enjoy their last days. To which Chief Johnson answered by pointing the 8 million dollars this good samaritan accumulated with his not-so-altruistic deeds.
Any resemblance with the real-life behavior of some alt-med purveyors, especially their own greediness, is, of course, purely accidental.
Bringing things back on topic, the most recent LEF issue addresses Paul Offitt's article for the NYT (in which he summarises the themes of his book).
The highlight of the rebuttal is where Dr Offitt is accused of harbouring an undeclared conflict-of-interest... in that he has written a book on the topic, so that when summarising his book for the NYT he would naturally have been tempted -- consciously or unconsciously -- to promote the ideas contained in that book.
A gave the LEF article about Paul Offit a cursory glance, and saw the claim that, "It is very difficult to obtain optimal nutrition from diet alone". The references they give to support that statement do not support itat all: one is about "Polish free-living elderly people from rural environments" which is hardly typical, the other states that, " Supposing a balanced diet, nutritional requirements are covered in adults".
They refer to a USDA report that showed that many Americans don't get the RDA of various nutrients. The assumption that people who do not get the RDA of a particular nutrient are deficient in it annoys me, as it isn't always, or even often, true. Inadequate intake does not equate to deficiency.
I recently looked into this with regard to magnesium in some depth, and found that the RDA for magnesium was mainly based on a single study of people eating a healthy diet (self-reported), and not on how much is required to prevent ill-health. Another well-designed and carefully controlled study (PDF) that looked at magnesium intake and excretion more carefully concluded that for most people 165 magnesium mg/day is sufficient, not the 400 mg/day or more as recommended by most health authorities. I suspect similar caveats apply to the RDA for other nutrients as well.
I think most people get sufficient nutrients, but too many calories. The exception is sick and/or elderly people who may be generally malnourished, and who may benefit from supplements. The best solution is always a healthier diet if at all possible, not pill-popping.
Why is it can't I see typos until I hit 'Submit Comment'?
I've noticed that recently Mikey appears to now be a scoffer ( as is one of his minions, Huff), just last week he wrote, "If carbon dioxide is so bad for the planet why do greenhouses buy CO2 generators..." ( recently also, "Global Warming De-bunked...", "CO2 myth busters..").
On the other hand, SBM *persona non grata* Null is a strong supporter of the AGW position probably because it allows him to vent against modernity and catastrophise while his audience hangs upon every word:
the waters are rising, ice is melting, storms becoming more intense- hurricanes, tornadoes and floods will devastate towns- drought is more widespread, earthquakes and tsunamis (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
He has "documentaries" about the issue and supports "sustainability", using solar, wind and tidal power.
In his case, it supports the idea that the world is going to h3ll in a handbasket and then, all authority will be powerless:
"We're in Chaos Theory now", he often notes ( that is a direct quote- how could I make a line like that up? )
So if the the powers-that-be falter and gangs run the suburbs and money is worthless, who can save us?
Go back to the land, live the simple life, be humble and spiritual.
And I can show you HOW!
the waters are rising, ice is melting, storms becoming more intense- hurricanes, tornadoes and floods will devastate towns
Buy my boat / hurricane shelter / survival kit!
OMG...Ginger Taylor at AoA just linked to her own blog and this heated email exchange between her and Bolen:
@lilady - want to bet that Master Crosby is going to play the part of Edward Snowden in this whole mess? How many email exchanges and phone conversations with the leadership of AoA did he save / record over the years?
This could be a lot of fun to watch...
Oh, this is too delicious. Methinks I might have my topic for tomorrow. :-)
Occasionally when I read material like that of Taylor, Crosby, Larson, Blaxill, Olmstead- something just overcomes me and I lapse in LOLspeak:
"OH noes! I can has lawyer? Timmy come see, come sue!
But I so GOOD! I helfs the chidrens! Whys? WHY?"
Perhaps I should have my circuitry checked.
I'm thinking right about now, that Jake is quite uncomfortable...because Bolen is going to use every bit of the dirt that was supplied by him
"Over the next several months you are going to think you are being boiled in oil – I have that much material – and it all comes from those you have stepped on, shit on, fucked with, marginalized, and laughed at. And, it is going to make really good reading. Plus I have REALLY GOOD investigators and researchers. And, a very large audience."
Is it jut me, or has does anyone else find the contradiction in
"I believe in facts" grating?
( believe in X >>> a state of mind based on faith, not observation and reason )
@lilady - I don't know....Jake could be looking at it as a continuation of his "brave, maverick reporter" mythos - fighting now against the corruption within the ranks of the anti-vax movement (preventing the real story from being told, etc, etc.)
I wouldn't be surprised his he's Tim's new attack / stalker-dog.
Bill Maher seems to be supporting vaccination, as he goes after Republicans for opposing morning after pill:
And my last comment to the one who continues to try to put words in my mouth that aren't there:
I'm reminded of two old sayings, one a little older than the other:
When you've gotten yourself deep in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
The other from Shakespeare's King John, in which the French prince, speaking sarcastically and to general laughter says, "Enough. We grant you can outscold us."
Shorter version: internet bullying is unpleasant no matter which direction it comes from. Disagreeing with my remarks is obviously your prerogative, but turning your disagreement into personal attacks is to get carried away, particularly when those disagreements are based on reading into my remarks things that aren't there.
@Lawrence: I've been keeping track of Crosby's Facebook and Twitter posts, and I feel he is more than happy to give Bolen the goods on the "AoA" bosses. The relationships between Crosby and his former friends has become toxic to the extreme.
Crosby isn't just burning the bridge with "AoA." Crosby is now like the Comedian in that scene in "Watchmen" where he torches the Vietnamese troops with a flamethrower in his hands and a smile on his face. He has no compunction about burning the place down.
The fact that they purportedly couldn't figure out who the "Autism Leadership Council" was just from the E-mail address is hilarious.
I have a speculation, Brian, that I think that you and a few others here might enjoy entertaining:
What do these people do all day?
Taylor cries about her lack of money- isn't she a counsellor/ social worker/ etc- which can pay reasonably well?
( I again hang my head in shame)
Jake was supposed to graduate, was he not?
Jameson and Goes both have talked about how they need more family time / time with children ( taking time off from the 'net / see Jameson today @ AoA)
MacNeil has complained how she has no time for herself.
Yet they're on the internet, writing, facebook, e-mails, meetings, bonding, investigating,getting into net wars..
Do they think of their anti-vax activities as a career?
Seriously? I know they think of their work as research, education and advocacy but from my own point of view, if you aren't earning money, it's not a career.
Has anyone come across this website before?
Nancy Malik, homeopathy propagandist, appears to be attempting to steal science lock, stock and barrel - trying to persuade people science is pseudoscience and pseudoscience is science, even offering a lame duck award for pseudoscience and awarding it to "Edward Earnest", "Santa Singh" and "Denial Colhoun"
It's like glimpsing a parallel universe!
The Offit book's commentary on antioxidants has some relevance vis a vis the life-extension folks. Essentially, it appears likely that mopping up free radicals can blunt the body's ability to kill cancer cells, leading to the higher rates of cancer found in clinical trials of antioxidant megadoses.
It's overall a very good book, and well-documented. But be warned: the Kindle edition, at least, doesn't show any annotation in the text; you have to switch to the back of the book and look up the page number to see if there are any footnotes for it, an annoying process.
'Through the Looking-glass" world as I've said before.
DW: I'm pretty much a career volunteer, with occasional forays into the working world.
Do they think of their anti-vax activities as a career?
I hope not but then again, if I look at myself in a mirror, studying is like a job for me and it has to be because, finishing a frigg*n bachelor so far is taking me quite a while because I've been (on and off) at it since 2004. I must say that plenty of peoples actively dissuading me to go to school and basically harassing me because they thought it was a waste of time, money & resources.
From your writing I asume that your interests include things like women's rights, education, politics etc. Volunteering for causes can effect change in the real world. When I worked for a non-profit ( as a counsellor and chief propagandist) years ago, two volunteers eventually got paid for their work helping clients find appropriate services.
How can learning ever be a waste of time? You've already published and will continue to assist researchers. In the real world, not that of the imagination.
Volunteering or researching about pseudo-science is like investigating the toothfairies' ancestral histories or their tastes in designer clothing and then advocating/ fundraising on their behalf.
( Thanks, Dr Hall).
People allowed free verbal rein with no checks and balances lose social perspective
Anyone who disagrees with him his seen as part of the conspiracy, anyone in a position of authority is assumed to be corrupt.
Do I want someone that is known as the "PR Man for Quacks" up front and center of a REAL PROBLEM?
AoA: Breaking Irony Meters everywhere since 2007.
Ginger has a "business plan" to become a billionaire...
"Maine Bunk Beds founder, Scott Taylor, came to understand how important it was to protect children from unnecessary chemical exposure after his own son fell ill following toxic exposure and was ultimately diagnosed with multiple medical problems, including autism. Scott decided to expand his established carpentry business to build Maine Bunk Beds in 2009, devoting his business to making beds that were safe for kids and affordable for parents..."
So no. Ginger don't need no stinkin' career as a social worker.
they recommend taking transglucosidase (TGD), a supplemental enzyme that breaks down starch into indigestible oligosaccharides
Always a good cure for constipation (putting it delicately), since oligosaccharides which are indigestible for *you* are not indigestible for your gut flora.
Nancy Malik posts hit and run comments here from time to time, as she does pretty much anywhere homeopathy is mentioned.
But these oligosaccharides are prebiotics, like inulin (which makes Jerusalem artichokes such fun) - the extraordinary gas and explosive diarrhea are signs that your gut flora are rebalancing, of course.
the waters are rising, ice is melting, storms becoming more intense- hurricanes, tornadoes and floods will devastate towns- drought is more widespread, earthquakes and tsunamis
Am I wrong to be singing this to the tune of "London Calling"?
@ herr doktor :
Flattery will get you everywhere.
-btw- don't we seem absolutely GLEEFUL IRT the current situation chez Blaxsted?
And somehow I don't find anything wrong with us reacting that way... should I?
How can learning ever be a waste of time? You’ve already published and will continue to assist researchers. In the real world, not that of the imagination.
That's right. One of the people who used to denigrate me is the disability counselor at Sherbrooke university (also with some employee from usherbrooke) who thought I was a waste of time (ok, I don't usually name people or their job but this was a special case because of his insatisfaction from work and he used to denigrate a lot of peoples, all mens. No wonder he drove a volvo tank at work).
Insolent Popcorn Poppers are popping across the globe. Schaden is eisig. Just sit back and watch the fun unfold . . .
Where can I watch the fun?
Here, courtesy of TMR, the interview with Ginger Taylor, (salaried) Executive Director of the Canary Party, at the 2012 Autism One Conference.
@ Denice Walter: Take note of the "classy" outfits worn by
"Tex" and Ginger.
I've just read the Ginger - Bolen e-mail exchange and I think that there was a subconscious glimmer of self awarness there. I mean that image macro at the end there, the one with lemur saying "Relax... We are all crazy... It's not a competition". How apt.
Also, I find myself forced to thank mr Bolen. I knew of Illiminati, Free Masons, Knights Templar, New World Order, Reptillians, Hippies, Rotschields, Bildenberg Group, Learned Elders of Zion, Ḥashshāshīn, Secret Tibetan Masters and Nazis on the Moon, but Autism Leadership Council is a new one for my Global Conspiracy Collection.
I went to watch the video at TMR. It says " if you don't have Flash, click here". Having an iPad, I clicked. Was told I need to install Flash. Guess I will never see it, because the REAL computer is upstairs and I broke my foot (again) Friday. Oh we'll, I will just have to use my imagination.
( evil grin)
@ Janet: I had a difficult time viewing the video as well, but at 1:20 minutes into that video, Ginger reveals that The Canary Party is a PAC, (Political Action Committee)...which takes donations from individuals from Not-For-Profit charitable organizations, to make donations to individual political candidates for their election/reelection to political offices.
Not-For-Profit organizations are forbidden by statutes and regulations to campaign for political candidates...or donate to those candidates' election campaigns.
I'll admit to being quite vocal on RI and other science blogs, about those sham autism hearings conducted by Darell Issa last November...especially following this Dachel-Brian Hooker interview that appeared on AoA, December 6, 2012. Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield wined and dined the Congressmen and their wives...for months...prior to the scheduling of that sham hearing.
which makes Jerusalem artichokes such fun
I used to subscribe to a Steinerite CSA. The end of the season was a seemingly endless parade of pound upon pound of these horrors.
@Bob G - as I thought, you haven't got the integrity to stand by your own words, and instead stoop to accusing me of lying.
Your exact words:
ableist, and then comparing it to other isms such as racism
You put out the insinuation that discrimination against people with disabilities is not at all like discriminating against people for reasons such as their race. You clearly think that there's no comparison, otherwise why would you complain about " comparing [ableism] to other isms such as racism"? What other meaning could such a statement have?
I sincerely hope that you never have to learn that lesson the hard way. All it takes is seven seconds, nobody is protected from it.
As for "bullying", you're hilariously hypocritical, you know that? Why is it ok for you to make snide armchair diagnoses of neurological impairment and mental illness in people you don't like, then cry "bullying!!" when someone says "Hey, not cool"? Try living with the "death by a thousand cuts" caused by the constant microaggressions faced by PWD/PWMI. Could you cope with it for a week? A day? An hour?
If I totted up the comparable harms done to me by homophobia, sexism, and ableism, it would be something like this:
Homophobia - a two-litre pop bottle.
Sexism - an olympic swimming pool.
Ableism - the North Sea.
No other form of discrimination has cost me such a loss of dignity, loss of income, negation of my civil rights, my right to privacy, and my right to bodily integrity.
It all starts with the simplest thing, language used to mock and dehumanise, something that becomes so normalised and commonplace that it slips by unnoticed. We know how it ends.
English is a marvellous language, there are ways to insult people that don't rely on hurtfully mocking involuntary characteristics such as sexuality, disability, race, or gender. Sh¡tlord, douchenozzle, crudwaffle, douchecanoe, arseclarinet, sh¡tsandwich, skiprat, dog vomit, litterbreath, smegburger,muppet, &c
See? No slurs necessary to point out what an objectionable person someone like an anti-vax crusader is.
This, and the disgusting reaction it received, may be of interest Bob: autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html
If you have any self-awareness then you may feel somewhat uncomfortable with it, but I'm not holding my breath.
Please stick the flounce this time, yeah?
It all starts with the simplest thing, language used to mock and dehumanise, something that becomes so normalised and commonplace that it slips by unnoticed. We know how it ends.
I find it very disturbing that ableist terms ("mong" and "spaz" are the ones that really piss me off, but I'm sure you are all too familiar with others) are apparently acceptable among UK people who really should know better. They wouldn't use words that are offensive to women, gays or ethnic minorities, so I don't understand why they think it's OK. I explained to a certain UK journalist that I cringed every time she Tweeted one of these words, and she told me she is epileptic so it's OK for her to use it, and anyway it's just a word and I should get over it. Disturbing.
Yikes, Kreb. She's epileptic so it's okay? She speaks for all epileptics, does she? *Shakes head* I am under no illusions that we can ever rid our language of offensive speech, language being the slippery ever-changing beast that it is, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying. At the very least, we should follow elburto's lead in encourage more *creative* use of invective.
#111 Gotta catch 'em all!
It may be egotistical of me, but I've always liked to believe that RI aims for a much higher standard of discussion than the average site on the Internet; we hold ourselves to the best practices and we encourage each other in holding to these high standards.
One of the elements of that best practice is applying "the principle of charity": when there is more than one interpretation of what someone says, take the most reasonable interpretation to respond to. It's true that sometimes people actually did mean a worse interpretation, but it's important to give the benefit of the doubt.
All this is my roundabout way of saying that I really think it's time to stop this firestorm over Bob G's comments, because while it's certainly possible to interpret what he said as terribly ableist, I do not think that is the most reasonable interpretation.
The simple fact is that there are people who have mental illness and are not even aware of it. Such people provide an immediate counter-example to the claim that delusions caused by mental illness are always shameful to the person experiencing them, and that therefore a delusional belief held with pride indicates that the delusion could not have come from mental illness. Look at Gene "Time Cube" Ray; can anyone seriously deny that he suffers from some form of mental illness? He is hardly ashamed of his Time Cube delusions; on the contrary, he is willing to broadcast them to the biggest audiences he can get, as he is absolutely convinced that, far from being delusions, they are penetrating insights into universal mysteries that befuddle all the rest of the "educated-stupid" world.
So it is not inherently ableist to say that, among those who hold fervently the irrational idea that polio coming under control had nothing to do with the polio vaccine coming out at exactly the same time, but instead with advances in sanitation which somehow no one can name - perhaps that utterly fixed idea doesn't come just from being stubborn or stupid, but from actual mental illness.
I don't agree with his assessment that it must come from mental disturbance, mostly because I've learned over the years to never underestimate what stubborn and stupid can generate. But I suspect that there are at least a few vocal antivaxers whose antivax beliefs are manifestations of actual mental illness. A few now-banned trolls top my list of probable candidates; anyone thinking of the same people I am will probably agree that the movement could not be composed of all such people, or it would have imploded long ago.
The sad fact is, it would be nice for us if we could confidently declare that people with hateful and destructive beliefs, and people whose beliefs included delusions induced by mental illness, were two sets that could never intersect. Then we'd never have a doubt of what rightful behavior was: pity the mentally ill for what they can't help; despise the hateful for what they certainly can help. But life doesn't always work out so neatly.
She speaks for all epileptics, does she?
I guess she was thinking along the lines of it being OK for black people to use the word "n!gger", and LGBT people to use the word "queer*. She wasn't using that language ironically or in a complimentary way to reclaim the words though, but simply as invective. I hope my complaints made her give it some thought.
I'm uncomfortable about censoring any language, but when it betrays an attitude or a prejudice like this, I'm even more uncomfortable.
Look at Gene “Time Cube” Ray; can anyone seriously deny that he suffers from some form of mental illness?
As I don't pay much attention to Gene Ray, from what I've seen I'm perfectly willing to entertain the notion that he's merely as dumb as a post. Where do you want to draw the line on this "some form" business? Can it place George Hammond to the right or left of Ray on a line?
One of the fun things about having a mild reading disorder is that I thought Narad wrote "George Hamilton" instead of "George Hammond."
So, I went over and took a gander..and dear god, he's like the male version of this woman I met in senior year. She wasn't a college student, but she walked into the college library and demanded to see a priest. (Catholic college). She finally gave me this screed she wrote about how the black church and the CIA were controlling black people through radio chips and microwaves. I saw her againn a few times in the lunchroom, passing out home-made pamphlets and wearing a sandwich board of her own design. She apparently believed that the priest and President of the college had a direct line to the Vatican.
Antaeus: Such people provide an immediate counter-example to the claim that delusions caused by mental illness are always shameful to the person experiencing them, and that therefore a delusional belief held with pride indicates that the delusion could not have come from mental illness.
And then there are cases where someone is recieving incorrect information from their senses. One friend of mine was having olfactory and auditory hallucinations and became convinced someone was stalking her. I think many AOA parents are having sensorial hallucinations; they observe something and connect it incorrectly.
"Parents were overjoyed and kids were enthusiastic, because we had survived the polio epidemics and we all knew children who were crippled from polio."
Exactly right. I'm 70, and I remember those days very well. People were practically dancing in the streets, calling it a miracle. Polio was a scourge that people unfamiliar with it have trouble comprehending.
Tangential to the topic of whether mad people, bad people, stupid people or mad bad stupid people are to blame for antivaccine idiocy, and societal woes in general, I would like to recommend Jon Ronson's 'The Psychopath Test'. I'm only 100 pages in, but I'm finding it very interesting and very funny.
His conclusion thus far is that:
We aren't all good people just trying to be good. Some of us are psychopaths. And psychopaths are to blame for this brutal misshapen society. They're the jagged rocks thrown into the still pond.
There seem to be major disagreements about what psychopathy is - some say it isn't a mental illness at all (you won't find it in the DSM), more of a neurological disorder, probably of the amygdala which allows us to empathize with others.
One psychiatrist stated categorically that people with mental illness respond to treatment and can get better, while psychopaths just get better at pretending to be normal. Fascinating but also frightening.
Krebozien: Isn't everyone pretending to be normal?
There is also Kevin Dutton.
I tend to lean towards the physiological idea for extreme examples.
Oddly enough, the alt media honchos I survey use that word -psychopath- very frequently to describe people in power.
Mote, beam, all that stuff.
About the pretending to be normal, PGP: sure to a certain extent.
My father used to say that people liked us because we looked and sounded 'right'- like we came from central casting- but they had no idea what we were really like or if we could actually do anything.
Goffman used to write about the persona or facade in which we envelop ourselves in contradistinction to what lies beneath it. Later on, he may have been questioning if there was ANYTHING besides the facade.
I'll leave off before I get to you-know-who. I have to depart soon.
Krebozien: Isn’t everyone pretending to be normal?
Sometimes you truly worry me.
Clarification: having just been reading about psychopaths who have no conscience, no sense of remorse, zero empathy, and are not motivated by fear at all, I assumed you were suggesting we are all like that really. Having read DW's words, I realize you probably weren't. Or were you?
One of my profs criticised a study of delinquent boys ( in which he had been a student assistant years before):
the author concluded that the delinquents (juveniles who were incarcerated) had lower levels of both moral judgment and general cognition than average school kids the same age, controlled for important factors like social class.
" How about the ones who DIDN'T get caught?" he asked.
One quick note: I am not really convinced of the validity of psychopathy. It is perfectly normal to want to do terrible things, society just likes to demonize anyone who acts on them, even though society itself has a tendency to be psychopathic. It convinces people that certain classes, religions, preferences and gender are not real people and then professes to be horrified when people act on those perceptions.
I agree with some of what you say BUT i think that in extreme cases there must be something else going on ( i.e. physiologically) because of total lack of empathy for the suffering of others which they cause -
even small children and animals can be distressed by seeing others similar to them suffering.
It is perfectly normal to want to do terrible things, society just likes to demonize anyone who acts on them
I'm not sure how to read that sentence. It would seem to be perfectly sensible to revile and punish someone who acts on the urge to do terrible things. If they do it repeatedly and show no inclination or ability to stop, it would seem appropriate to keep them away from those they might do terrible things to. Is that what you're thinking of as demonizing, or am I missing the mark here?
litterbreath is the best yet. Suitable enough for use around kids who sometimes try to read over shoulders (it goes both ways, it's not just POS) without the need to explain douche to same. And for audiences where anal references wouldn't go over well, either!
PGP @131--surely you are not saying that, say child rapists, should receive any other treatment but being called out as vile and severely punished? and especially if it is found to be a repeat offense, locked away where they have no future ability to access children?
I actually support restorative justice, where people found to have committed certain crimes have opportunities to make amends through various actions that are relevant to the crime. But crimes against children, especially of a sexual nature committed physically against a specific child, I have a hard time with using that concept. Such persons deserve nothing less than being portrayed as vile.
One quick note: I am not really convinced of the validity of psychopathy. It is perfectly normal to want to do terrible things, society just likes to demonize anyone who acts on them, even though society itself has a tendency to be psychopathic.
Psychopathy isn't the desire to do terrible things, it's the lack of the usual restraints from doing them. It's the combination of psychopathy and the desire to do terrible things that makes a serial killer. Psychopaths are not only represented in prisons, but also at the top of any profession.
I don't think there is any doubt at all that psychopathy exists, since there are objective ways of diagnosing it.
I think that PGP has a point that is relevant:
in the old days, people denied the existence of so-called "lower" instinctual human tendencies- sex, aggression, selfishness- only seeing them as aberration until Freud focused upon them as driving forces and what we held in common with other animals. Social/ altruistic tendencies were seen as an afterthought, gloss or compromise.
More recent theories postulate the social aspects of humans as species-wide and perhaps, society-building/ co-operation like language, is part of our inheritance as well.
Bowbly and others looked on concepts like attachment and separartion across species- including our own.
I like to think that we have many facets, arranged differently:
when you look at people's abilities and inclinations, it's more like a set of many diverse strands interwoven in incredibly individualistic ways.
I think there's a difference between normal primate behavior and the behavior of some psychopaths, as described by Jon Ronson anyway (I'll turn my critical skills back on when I've finished enjoying the book).
Ronson describes experiments done on prisoners in the 60s in which people were wired up to skin resistance meters and EEGs, and told they would receive a very painful electric shock after the experimenter counted down from 10 to 1.
Non-psychopaths steeled themselves for the shock, and displayed measurable stress responses. The psychopaths showed no response until they received the shock.
When the experiment was repeated, the non-psychopaths displayed an even greater anticipatory response (since they now knew that the shock was indeed very painful), the psychopaths still showed no anticipatory response at all.
This, along with a lack of impulse control, may explain how psychopaths often appear to lack any concern for the consequences of their actions. Efforts to rehabilitate psychopathic prisoners may actually increase recidivism rates, as they get better at hiding their true natures.
In other experiments people were shown gruesome photos of gunshot victims. Not only did the psychopaths not show the shock and distress that non-psychopaths did, they actually showed evidence of getting pleasure from looking at these photos.
Thus far I'm thinking that the psychopath is a different animal to a non-psychopath (not just at extremes of normal continua), but my opinion may change.
Sure. Something is certainly amiss at (probably) a physiological level.
I imagine that there's a line to be drawn somewhere between those who have always been that way ( how would they perform on tests of attachment given to infants, I wonder?) and hardened individuals who ( because of experiences- e.g. war, crime, abuse etc) have learned that that's a better option than being more humane.
MOB: I think I meant that society, by and large, used to (and in some cases still does) encourage the killing of certain classes/ groups. For instance, a person who would be considered a psychopath in Turkey today was considered an exemplary citizen in the time of the Ottoman Turks, as long as he only killed Armenians and that holds true across history, substituting the nationality and genocide of choice.
Brew and Ferment: I agree with you, actually, I'm just pointing out that historically, crimes against children weren't prosecuted because children were seen as property and no one could be bothered.
DW: What do you mean by :humane?"
it means not being unmoved by others' suffering.
If people like that have an issue with their thinking, it's a superabundance of something that human beings need to have -- the ability to create narrative and perceive agency. If you're a very narrative-driven, and agent-focused person (or, if you want to put it more simply, you're extremely immersed in teleology), you simply won't be able to grasp the idea that things don't necessarily happen for what human beings call "reasons" and that not every event is driven by some kind of actor, which leads to -- in this case -- a lot of post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacies and pharma shill arguments.
That type of perception is natural and normal and basically hardwired into people, but some people seem to have far too much of it, and it does funny things to their ability to function in a society that basically demands people be able to deal with non-teleological frameworks. Science itself rejects teleology, and if you can't see outside of it, or think in a non-teleological framework, you're probably definitionally going to reject science, or, at the very best, see it as some kind of mystery religion. (And we've never seen that attitude before...)
Some people are better at some kinds of thinking than others. You don't want me doing your taxes, and I don't want teleologues influencing public science/health policy. Unfortunately, they do. But I don't do taxes.
I would like to recommend Jon Ronson’s ‘The Psychopath Test’.
Ronson has a gift for singling out facets of human existence that function as a Rorschach test, and persuading different people to describe what they have each projected onto that facet. The point of ‘The Psychopath Test’ was not so much psychopathy per se (not as I read it, anyway), but the stories that different people make up about it.
Why are there no film adaptations of Ronson's books made by Werner Herzog? Make it so.
OK, I think I get your intent. It originally came across as though you were saying that doing vile deeds was natural and thus it was absurd to object to them. The term "demonizing" tends to be used to refer to something that is not necessarily as dire as it is made out to be--a sense of negative hyperbole that is perhaps unwarranted--and thus not worthy of such scorn. i.e. woomeisters demonize chemotherapy by undue focus on side effects and risks. That's what confused me, and I think MOB as well.
What is the book you are reading? I'd like to know more about it.
Brew and Ferment: It's okay, I was in kind of a hurry and it came out kind of muddled. I don't know though; I think that violence is sort of natural and is always going to be around and that we are too eager to call violent people monsters and pretend that they aren't normal.
herr doktor bimler,
I agree with your assessment of Rnoson, and the book. I first got into his writing years ago, when he had a small column in The Guardian (or was it The Observer?). Even back then his writing was often based on finding an unusual subject to interview, developing rapport and then asking just the right questions to make them highlight their own craziness, which is extremely funny.
I would like him to interview Burzynski. I think that would be hilarious.
@Political Guinea Pig,
Good to know! I think sometimes we call people "monsters" and pretend they aren't normal is because we don't want to face the depths of our own depravity. The pot/kettle situation. Yet many, many people do manage to control their behaviors in appropriate situations. Just out of curiousity, can you give a specific example of when someone is inappropriately called a monster? because I am having a hard time making sense of a generality.
No time to read the entire thread, but I think I can sum up the ableism discussion with the famous parking lot sign:
"STUPIDITY IS NOT A HANDICAP -- PARK SOMEWHERE ELSE"
Brew and Ferment: Well, for instance, there was a well-publicized case in Wisconsin where a man killed his three daughters in an attempt, apparently to get back at his wife. Zero mention of the fact that he was a construction worker, which suggests a hypermasculine environment in which the daily grumbles about women are amplified to the point where empathy is completely eroded. Not defending the guy, just pointing out that environment has to be taken into account.
I mean, sure we can call people monsters all we want, but nothing will actually change unless we eliminate the 'habitats' of the so-called monsters. And even then, there'll be a fair number that slip through the cracks. Again, violence is normal; if humans weren't violent we'd be bonobos and have no tech. The problem is that half the population has no idea how to use it appropriately.
@Politicalguineapig - I'm still confused. Have you got any evidence that construction workers are forced by their environment to become violent? That would come as a surprise to my many relatives who have worked in construction, the Coast Guard, or the Army who have never killed their daughters in order to get back at their wives.
Again, violence is normal; if humans weren’t violent we’d be bonobos and have no tech. The problem is that half the population has no idea how to use it appropriately.
I find it truly disturbing that you think this. In my view violence is abuse, except in very exceptional circumstances. It is all too common, sadly, but that doesn't make it normal. It is normal to experience anger and feelings of frustration and aggression from time to time, but not normal to act out those feelings, which is why society punishes people who do.
There is plenty of evidence that children brought up in a loving supportive environment don't turn into aggressive, violent adults. Not all those who have an abusive childhood become violent and abusive themselves, but it is a very significant risk factor.
Also, I don't understand why you think violence facilitated human development. It seems more likely it was language, not aggression, that stimulated our intellectual development. I know that war has been a great spur to technological advances, but much of our technology was developed for peaceful purposes. Have I missed some paleoanthropology somehow?
Lastly, I wonder what you mean by your last sentence about half the population having no idea how to use violence appropriately. I do hope you aren't suggesting that all men are violent, because that would be sexist BS.
Personally, speaking as a male, the last time I struck a blow in anger was when I was 11, and that was in self-defense. Since then I have been beaten up, left bleeding and with bones broken, and otherwise been the victim of violence (more than once at the hands of a woman), but have resisted the urge to retaliate in kind, not because of fear or weakness, but because of my principles. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean.
Zero mention of the fact that he was a construction worker, which suggests a hypermasculine environment in which the daily grumbles about women are amplified to the point where empathy is completely eroded.
What, exactly, is your issue with men?
I think I've seen indications that you were (are, still?) a female military person. As was I. If work environment were to blame for violence how do we stack up I wonder?
PGP: Only one counter example that comes to mind at this particular moment but I know there are plenty more: how about the case of Susan Smith who sent her two kids into the lake strapped into their carseats in the SUV? Ok, one more general observation (not a specific case) how about moms who slander and lie to keep their kids' dad from access to the kids? The latter may not technically be violence, but it's still tremendously destructive.
BaF -- oh, I kick puppies all the time, just the way they taught us in boot camp.
Zero mention of the fact that he was a construction worker, which suggests a hypermasculine environment in which the daily grumbles about women are amplified to the point where empathy is completely eroded.
What, exactly, is your issue with men?
Shay, I'd link you to a thread that would give you insight on that, but the computer I'm on is a little messed up and I can't right-click on anything. If you Google for "murderous and rapey" I think you'll find it.
Long story short, and PGP is free to correct me if this is not an accurate statement of her views, is that PGP feels that a perfectly logical and reasonable way to get around having very little experience with people, or with certain types of people, is to generalize enormously from the little experience one does have, like the second-hand experience one gets from reading the newspaper. Therefore, if you read news stories about men who commit incredibly violent crimes, it's logical to conclude that men as a rule are incredibly violent, and exceptions must be so rare that they're barely worth mentioning.
We've tried multiple times to explain to her why the world doesn't work that way, why prejudice and stereotyping don't become clever helpful strategies simply because you say "it's the only way I can get around the uncertainty of not knowing". It has shown no signs of sinking in.
Not to mention that generalizations and stereotypes based on "personal experiences" and without analysis of actual data seems to be the antithesis of the point of this blog and others like it. Every bit as egregious as those who insist that vaccines cause autism based on their kid's behavior that is coincidental with the vaccine delivery.
It has shown no signs of sinking in.
Given the plethora of intelligent, rational, helpful men who post here, this boggles the mind.
Here was PGP's comment that Antaeus referred to from July 23, 2012:
Most white men these days are unemployed and get murderous and rapey.It kinda figures though: men only socialize with other men, and it poisons their ability to connect emotionally with anyone who’s not just like them.
I'm appalled by the possibility that any women only know unemployed, murderous and "rapey" men who only socialize with other unemployed, murderous and "rapey" men.
PGP, please move to a civilized part of the world, where you can meet some men who will disabuse you of your poor opinions of us.