A week ago or so, I was perusing my Google Alerts, along with various blogs and news websites, looking for something to blog about, when I noticed a disturbance in the pseudoscience Force. It's a phenomenon I've noticed many times before from a wide variety of cranks and quacks, but it all boils down to how we as supporters of science-based medicine are viewed by those who are, in essence, victims of the quackery that we are trying to combat. I think it's a topic worth revisiting periodically; so here's the 2014 update.
A week ago, Sharon Hill published a post over at Doubtful News entitled Chiropractors get their spine out of place over critique. It's about how chiropractors have reacted to a post by Steve Salzberg over at Forbes entitled New Medicare Data Reveal Startling $496 Million Wasted On Chiropractors. Salzberg's blog post was basically about just that, namely the amount of money billed Medicare by chiropractors, information that's possible to obtain since the government released Medicare billing data for individual practitioners. Salzberg pointed out that half a billion dollars is a lot of money, more than twice as much as what is wasted every year on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). The result was rapid. Chiropractors swarmed, complaining to Forbes.com, and making the usual threats to sue, much as they actually did sue Simon Singh and, fortunately, saw their lawsuit blow up in their faces.
This, of course, can be looked upon as a purely mercenary protection of turf and livelihood not unlike how Daniel Kopans attacks any study that finds mammography to be less effective than thought (or even ineffective) in decreasing deaths from breast cancer. There is, however, a form of backlash against criticism of pseudoscience that is different and, when I first encountered it, more disturbing to deal with. It's a level of pure, visceral hatred that is difficult to understand; that is, until you try to put yourself into your "enemy's" shoes. Consider this post an exercise in doing just that, an exercise that will no doubt shock at least one of our readers.
How lots of "them" really view "us"
Those of us who dedicate considerable time and effort to combatting quackery generally do it because we think we're doing good. Certainly, I wouldn't spend so much time blogging the way I do, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog, if I didn't think so. It's true that I also enjoy it, but if I were doing this just for enjoyment I'm sure I could manage to find other topics that I could write about. In actuality, way back in deepest darkest beginnings of my blogging career, I did write about a lot of other things. My skeptical topics were more general in nature (rather like the way Steve Novella's topics still are at NeuroLogica Blog), encompassing not just medicine but evolution versus "intelligent design" creationism, religion, Holocaust denial, history, and even the occasional foray into politics. Over time such diversions became rarer, to the point where I hardly ever write about topics other than medicine anymore, even at the not-so-super-secret other blog. I think that the reason for that is simple: It's what I'm most passionate about, and I think it's where I can do the most good. Like most bloggers supporting skepticism and, in particular, science-based medicine, I think of myself as doing my part to educate, hopefully in an entertaining fashion, and I've been rewarded with one of the more popular medical blogs out there and a small degree of notoriety. Indeed, I sometimes think of myself as a microcelebrity (or even nanocelebrity), because I have a little bit of fame, but it doesn't really extend outside of the blogosphere. That's fine with me, as it's enough that occasionally a reporter will contact me for a quote about a story I've blogged about.
It's often instructive, however, lest I become too smug or comfortable, to take note of how the "other side" thinks of those of us who try to promote SBM and, in doing so, educate the world about quackery. The way we think of ourselves does not resemble in any way what the quacks and antivaccinationists think of us. At some level this is not surprising. After all, any of us who've been at this for a while and managed to accumulate enough of an audience to be noticed by the "other side" will be subject to charges that we are "pharma shills," hopelessly in the pay of big pharma. To the "other side," obviously that must be why we do what we do, because we can't possibly be doing this because we're passionate about our beliefs. It's such a common (and specious) attack that more than seven years ago I coined a term for it (at least I think I coined the term—I can't find its use before my first post on it), the "pharma shill gambit," a post I later appropriated for this very blog.
However, how we are seen by our opponents is much worse than mere specious allegations of undisclosed conflicts of interest, in which (apparently) nefarious drug companies are paying us to sit at our computers in our underwear turning out attack after attack on antivaccinationists and practitioners of "natural healing." I was reminded of this last year perusing the various blogs and attacks written about those of us who have been so critical of Stanislaw Burzynski. As you recall, I've been very critical of Burzynski on a number of occasions for his peddling of ineffective "antineoplastons," his promotion of what I have referred to as "personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy for dummies," his playing fast and loose with human subjects protections in the numerous clinical trials he runs, and his arrogance of ignorance. Basically, I've made no secret of the fact that I view Burzynski as someone who is incompetent as an oncologist and highly unethical as a researcher who charges patients huge sums of money to be in his clinical trials that never seem to end up being published.
So, about a year ago, when I noted that a patient's family that reported that apparently the FDA was in the process of auditing the Burzynski Clinic (an audit whose results we now know), that Burzynski hadn't been able to use antineoplastons in children for a few months then, and that apparently he had also been banned from administering antineoplastons to adults as well. I kept the identity of the patient confidential, as did other bloggers writing about the family's post. Not long after, however, I learned that the family had learned about how their post has leaked out. More importantly, I learned how they viewed those of us trying to report on Burzynski's activities:
It has come to my attention that there are some uninvited guests following our posts about [REDACTED]. Even with all our progress and good news, anti-Burzynski weirdos find ways to take information I privately post and exploit it as negative criticism. I will be upping the security on our site and removing certain users from allowing access to our account. If I block you by mistake, please take a moment and send me a message. Friends, family, friends of friends.. you should know how to contact me. I will gladly add you back. If I have never met you, and you have good reason to follow our page, even if you are just curious about Burzynski and have come across our story, I will add you back if I can verify your intent is not malicious.
Yes, there are anti-Burzynski groups. Makes no sense to me why these people waste time and want to take away our freedoms. Fortunately, they only have each other and no one really cares about all the effort they put into creating articles and web pages and blabber. I never even heard of such people! I wonder if these cavemen even have iPhones yet, I'm surprised they can work the computer. I debated making [REDACTED]'s page public, but I am not into exploiting my child, as these groups are into exploiting children and adults, mainly those who are no longer with us who happen to be patients of the clinic. What I have found in following some facebook pages of kids with terminal illnesses, it seems there are always those people that think they know everything and post really evil, heartless comments. Apparently, I'm not immune to this.
Please do not waste a second of your time trying to avenge are [sic] little hero and Dr. Burzynski. It really would do them great satisfaction to know that they rubbed someone the wrong way. Evil people feed off of aggravating others. Bad people have no place in our healing journey.
Yes, that's right, and it might be jarring to some skeptics. In marked contrast to how I view most believers in pseudoscience and quackery, such as antivaccinationism or patients pursuing dubious cancer therapies, which is that they are wrong, that they've made a horrible mistake but I can to some extent understand it on the basis of human nature, believers such as Burzynski patients and their families view us skeptics as downright evil. To some extent, one can understand this. (Here's where I try to put myself into their shoes.) These parents believe that Burzynski has either saved their child or loved one or is the only hope for their terminally ill relative to survive. They know they've made a decision that their doctors almost certainly tried to talk them out of. Rather than let in a modicum of doubt about that decision, it is easier to view those of us who are trying to combat the misinformation that is used to support the Burzynski Clinic and his activities as heartless monsters, enemies who are actively trying to prevent their children from being cured of cancer. And, yes, that is really how they view us.
Don't believe me? Take a look at what Stanislaw Burzynski's propagandist Eric Merola writes on his website about the "anti-Burzynski" bloggers:
Overall, you need to be able to think for yourself. Question everything, including me and this film. Feel free to verify all sources used for this film for yourself via the Sourced Transcript [link]. You will notice the "anti-Burzynski bloggers" refuse to do that or adhere to reputable sources. You might say, "they are preying on desperate cancer patients and families of cancer patients" by carelessly misleading their readers about Burzynski and his invention. This is a natural course of history when scientific innovation like this occurs, and is something that is to be expected. Never underestimate the irrationality of the human brain when it is confronted with something it doesn't understand. These bloggers have an agenda, and are not open to rational discourse.
Our society is built on propaganda wars, and wars of information and disinformation. The fact that most people will basically believe anything they are told without bothering to find out if what they are told is true or not—makes them for easy prey, especially when they are dying of cancer. The writers of the "anti-Burzynski" bloggers know this—and take full advantage of this.
Of course, I did just that, going over Merola's "sourced transcript" two and a half years ago in my original review of his movie. Be that as it may, notice the message being promoted. "Anti-Burzynski bloggers" are out there to keep you from being cured of cancer! They're "preying on desperate cancer patients and families of cancer patients"! Why? Who knows? The best Merola can come up with is a variant of the Galileo Gambit, in which we skeptics apparently reflexively resist anything that's different. It's a common message among Burzynski supporters, having more recently shown up a Facebook post supporting McKenzie Lowe, whose parents were among those who successfully lobbied the FDA to allow a "compassionate use" exemption to let her receive antineoplastons, although the FDA did stipulate that it had to be a physician not associated with Burzynski administering the drug. In reality, if Burzynski had the goods, he could persuade us, which is why seeing Merola accuse us of "not being open to rational discourse" fried another one of my irony meters.
It's not just Burzynski supporters, either. Antivaccine activists also believe that skeptics and supporters of SBM are out to get them. I don't hide the fact that I sometimes amuse myself (and seek blogging material) by lurking in the comment sections after posts on antivaccine blogs. It doesn't take much lurking in such corners of the blogosphere to discover that antivaccine activists really, really, really hate "science bloggers," at least as much, if not more, than supporters of Burzynski. For example, take a look at some of the comments after this post on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism, epitomized by this one about "ScienceBloggers":
They really go so out of their way (mounting hate campaigns like "ditchJenny" etc. etc. and this is why I honestly doubt their "Oh we're not paid shills," claims. Real, open minded science people wouldn't be so militant and many scientists/doctors actually disagree with them anyways! Someone mentioned that most of them are either young, impressionable types or older has-beens who get off on bashing others with social media. The more that I think about it, they're above all, bullies, not pro-science people. I have several friends with MS and it makes me sick as to how they malign anything to do with CCSVI (when MS drugs have killed SOOO many more people than angioplasty ever will) - I believe 3 people have died due to angioplasty- mostly due to having been given stents which they don't even put in veins anymore. There's a jerky journalist in our town who actually uses "Science" blogs as his source of information to write on health topics which is really scary (and lazy). It is beyond pathetic that grown up people waste time trying to prop up the status quo in healthcare when it is so obvious that there are serious questions that need to be asked and answered to do with vaccines and questions also to issues of MS cause and treatment.
Meanwhile, as if to give me more fodder just when I needed it, in a comment after a post about the traditional Chinese herbal clinic at the Cleveland Clinic, Howard Wallach chastised me:
Thank God you rigid would-be totalitarians are losing the battle (in the US and Canada, anyway) to keep useful natural treatments and cures out of the hands of the general population! If you want to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars to perform studies that meet your satisfaction on hundreds of natural medicinals which have been used for millennia, go ahead and do it. You know darn well that few people are going to do so when there’s no huge financial gains to be made from non-patentable natural substances. I, personally, have had excellent, I would say tremendously successful results from Chinese and Tibetan medicine as well as Western neutriceuticals for a variety of conditions with nary a side effect. On the other hand I suffer permanent shoulder tendon damage from a fluoroquinolone and chronic gastritis from a prescription NSAID. I wish you every failure in your despicable cause.
Yes, as I said before, they really, really, really do hate us. They view us as The Enemy, evil people who are actively trying to keep them from healing their children of autism, every bit as much as the parents of Burzynski patients view us as actively wanting to kill their children by preventing them from being treated by the Savior Burzynski, or Mr. Wallach apparently views us as wanting to keep him from his health-preserving herbal remedies. It is an attitude and view that is actively promoted by Wakefield and his ilk, as well as their supporters, the way Eric Merola tries to whip up paranoia about what he calls "anti-Burzynski bloggers." Indeed, it's become a major meme in antivaccine circles to attack supporters of SBM who defend vaccine science and refute antivaccine pseudoscience as "bullies" and to characterize posts and articles that criticize antivaccine beliefs and activists as "hate speech." In particular, antivaccine activists are unhappy that over the last couple of years the mainstream media appears to have started to figure out that, while "telling both sides of the story" is a good policy for politics and many other subjects, it's not a good policy for stories about science and medicine in which one side is supported by massive evidence from multiple disciplines that all converges on a single conclusion, and the other side consists of pseudoscience and quackery. In other words, what Dara O'Briain describes in his immortal comedy bit appears to be becoming less common than it was, and antivaccinationists don't like it.
We have to remember that, contrary to the way that we view most of the militant supporters of quackery, which is mistaken, wrong, misled by a combination of normal human cognitive characteristics such as confirmation bias and characteristics of disease such a placebo effects and regression to the mean, supporters of pseudoscience having to do with medicine not-infrequently view those of us who argue for SBM as not just wrong, but as vile, contemptible, less than human pharma shills who are out to prevent The Truth from being revealed to The People. To many of them, we are actively out to prevent lives from being saved or autistic children from being "recovered" by "autism biomed" based largely on the idea that vaccines cause autism That's also why, like Burzynski patients, antivaccinationist go into full attack mode whenever there is criticism of their heroes, in particular Andrew Wakefield. One can't help but remember a particularly telling quote about Wakefield from a story about the antivaccine movement three years ago. The quote came from J.B. Handley, founder of the antivaccine group now led by Jenny McCarthy, Generation Rescue, in a New York Times story: "To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one. He’s a symbol of how all of us feel."
Handley's choice of words was very telling, and the implication clear: To him, attacking Andrew Wakefield is akin to attacking Jesus Christ or Nelson Mandela. If you're a Christian, how do you react to people who attack Jesus Christ? Not favorably, that's for sure. What do you call such people? Infidels, heretics, apostates, atheists, that's what. To people like J.B. Handley, these practitioners of antivaccine pseudoscience represent hope, and to attack them is to attack not just their beliefs but to attack hope itself. We have to remember that criticism of people like Wakefield or Burzynski only serves drive their worshipers closer. However, it is not their worshipers at whom I'm targeting my message, as I'll discuss at the end.
Now "we" are "holocaust deniers" and "dirty rotten scoundrels"
"They" really do believe that "we" (i.e., skeptics and supporters of science-based medicine who criticize the various modalities they passionately believe in) are not just wrong, but downright evil. To some of them we are promoting a "vaccine-autism Holocaust." If you don't believe me that antivaccinationists not infrequently use this term, Google "vaccine autism Holocaust." You'll find posts lamenting this risibly hateful meme, but you'll also find examples of antivaccinationists using just this meme. Indeed, one parent has even stated:
For me, the denial that there is an autism epidemic is the medical equivalent of denial of the holocaust. In the spirit of protecting the vaccine industry from any linkage to autism, the pro-vax side not only denies that vaccines may be linked to autism but denies that there even is an autism epidemic.
That's right. If you accept science and medicine, along with all the evidence that has failed to find a correlation between vaccines and autism, you're the equivalent of David Irving, a Holocaust denier. Or worse. In the comments at the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism I found a real gem about the 1977 swine flu vaccine campaign, right after this post:
None of us understood that the people behind the swine flu vaccine fiasco were criminals who were experimenting on the public just like the Nazis.
To antivaccinationists, not only are supporters of vaccine programs just like Holocaust deniers, but they're the equivalent of Nazi doctors carrying out horrific experiments on concentration camp prisoners. It only makes sense, of course. Holocaust deniers are almost always Hitler admirers or Nazi sympathizers; so it's only a small step to go from calling someone a Holocaust denier to calling him a Nazi.
Visions of pro-vaccine Nazis dancing in antivaccinationists' heads aside, it didn't take long for me to become aware of one more example of just how evil antivaccinationists think "we" are. It comes from Mama Mac at the Thinking Mom's Revolution in the form of a post entitled Dirty. Rotten. Scoundrels. Mama Mac's post consists of a list of people that she views as pure evil (or as "dirty rotten scoundrels).
Be that as it may, with one exception, the fourteen people listed as, apparently, "dirty rotten vaccine scoundrels" by Mama Mac are in actuality generally admirable people. We'll dismiss one actual scoundrel first: Poul Thorsen. Antivaccinationists really, really like Poul Thorsen, not because he participated in (not ran) the Danish studies that failed to find a link between either the MMR vaccine or thimerosal in vaccines and autism. Thorsen, it turns out, has been accused of misappropriation and misuse of U.S. federal government grant money, and about a year ago the antivaccine movement went wild, trying to use the Thorsen case to distract from the inconvenient science that does not support their case. He was a convenient bogeyman, and they labored mightily to hold him up as "proof" that the Danish studies were hopelessly tainted by his fraud. Of course, even if Thorsen is guilty, that doesn't invalidate the Danish studies, as he was a "middle of the pack" author. Moreover, there's a lot more evidence out there than the Danish studies that support the safety of the vaccine program and the lack of correlation between vaccines and the dire outcomes antivaccinationists attribute to them. Even if the Danish studies were hopelessly tainted, it would not alter the scientific consensus, because the Danish studies are not the be-all and end-all of vaccine safety studies. They are just, to quote a cliché, another scientific brick in the wall supporting the safety of vaccines. In any case, if Thorsen is guilty, he really is a dirty, rotten scoundrel and should be locked up for a long time if convicted. He is not, however, a dirty rotten scoundrel who is the face of the vaccine program, as much as antivaccinationists stretch to try to convince you that he is.
The rest of Mama Mac's list includes people who are, for the most part, people I admire: Paul Offit (of course!) is there, because to antivaccinationists like Mama Mac he is Sauron, Darth Vader, Voldemort, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot all rolled up into one. Why? Because he invented a vaccine for rotavirus that has saved lives and prevented suffering, and for that he is considered pure evil. For his contribution and (more directly) for his unflagging promotion of vaccines and his willingness to call the nonsense promoted by antivaccinationists exactly what it is, nonsense, he's been subjected to the vilest attacks and slander at the hands of the antivaccine movement. It's not surprising that on a couple of occasions the pressure got to him a bit, and he lost his cool. I only wonder at how he could have kept his cool for so long, given what he's put up with. Bill Gates is also there, of course. Since he retired from the active management of Microsoft and dedicated his great wealth to philanthropy he's become another Dark Lord of Vaccination, mainly because a large focus of the Gates Foundation's work has been to promote vaccination campaigns in Third World countries as a means of promoting health and ending the scourge of preventable disease and death there. He also has no patience for the nonsense of the antivaccine movement, which is a plus.
It's hard not to conclude that "they" see "us" as narcissistic, lacking compassion, corrupt, and, yes, downright evil. Is it any wonder that they would come to the conclusion that virtually any tactic is justifiable in their crusade against medical science? It's not hard to find similar quotes elsewhere about topics other than vaccines or Stanislaw Burzynski, either. Indeed, if you can stand the craziness and hostility, just wander on over to Patrick "Tim" Bolen's website, and you'll see even more hostile language directed at skeptics over not just vaccines, but cancer therapies, alternative medicine, supplements, and pretty much any other quackery you can think of. This hostility, this "us versus them" attitude is a feature, not a bug. Whipping it up is how quacks keep their supporters enthusiastic and how they continue to sell useless products. We're not likely to penetrate such tribalism or to change the mind of people like Mama Mac, although on rare occasions we can.
What "our" real targets should be
When blogging about SBM versus quackery, my target is not people like J.B. Handley, Mama Mac, the bloggers at AoA or The Thinking Moms' Revolution, or Eric Merola. These people are the very people who believe that I am an evil person hopelessly in the thrall of big pharma, which rewards me richly for crushing their hopes. (If that's the case, I ask: Where is all that filthy lucre? Where is my Maserati? Where is my yacht? Where is my private jet? As an academic surgeon, I make a comfortable living and can afford a nice house and car, but that's about it.) Speaking of filthy lucre, it's also absolutely critical to distinguish between the reasons "they" attack "us." If it's a bunch of chiropractors protecting their turf, as far as I'm concerned, the gloves are off, and they're fair game. Ditto if we're talking about Stanislaw Burzynski or his propagandist Eric Merola. On the other hand, if it's the desperate parents of a child with a terminal brain tumor or the terrified husband of a woman dying of a brain tumor, who are clinging to Burzynski as the only hope of saving her child, a much gentler approach is called for.
In any event, it's far more important to get the fence-sitters and make sure good science-based information is out there for them. I also use a variety of techniques, ranging from the more—shall we say?—"insolent" to more dispassionate discussions of science, and everything in between. True, I do tend to lean more towards the more sarcastic end of the spectrum (which is why I admire Mark Crislip's tone and posts so much), but, to be honest, I used to be a lot snarkier and nastier, no matter how much it might be hard for one of our readers to believe. (Go back and read some posts from around 2005-2008 at my not-so-secret other blog, if you don't believe me.)
None of the backlash from believers in quackery should, however, deter us from deconstructing their icons. Andrew Wakefield, for example, has done great harm, and as a cancer doctor and researcher I simply can't abide Burzynski's activities—and rightly so, in my opinion. Certainly, I've never pulled any punches. On the other hand, we do have to remember who are targets are and what our goals are. I have no expectation that I will ever be able to convince someone like the parents whom I quoted at the beginning of this article, and there's only about the same chance of active substance remaining in a 30C homeopathic remedy as there is of my persuading Eric Merola that his hagiographies of Stanislaw Burzynski are misguided, misinformation-packed propagandistic nonsense or that I don't have a hidden tail and horns. Occasionally, I actually do get through to such people, but it's so infrequent that I can't count on it. My goal is instead to put science-based information out there, so that the fence sitters and undecided can encounter it. If the occasional true believer listens, then I've done far better than I would ever expect.
In the meantime, I don't make the mistake of thinking that in return for my efforts I will ever receive anything but hatred and contempt from the "other" side. I've tried to put myself in the shoes of parents who have a dying child and believe that Stanislaw Burzynski can save him, parents who believe passionately that vaccines caused their child's autism and that only "biomed" treatments can "recover" him, and even of people like Mr. Wallach, who passionately believe that whatever herbs he's taking are responsible for his doing well right now. That's why I know that I'll almost certainly never change their minds, which just makes those all-too-uncommon occasions when I receive e-mails from former believers in quackery telling me that I started or contributed to the process of their rejecting pseudoscience and quackery that much more sweet. We at SBM do, however, have a hope of persuading the fence-sitters, and so do you—at least, as long as we remember always to ask ourselves Are we the baddies? and to remain able to answer honestly that we are not.
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Did Mercola just unconsciously give away his entire raison d'etre there?
"Our society is built on propaganda wars, and wars of information and disinformation. The fact that most people will basically believe anything they are told without bothering to find out if what they are told is true or not—makes them for easy prey..."
Finding myself on a list such as the 14 "Dirty. Rotten. Scoundrels" on the "Thinking Mom's Revolution" would be a dream come true. It would be like winning a Nobel Prize. It would be like winning a Super Bowl MVP. A Rare. True. Badge of Honor.
I was thinking the exact same thing, Mathew. It sounds like he is talking about himself in that comment.
The level of projection - or at least, of obliviousness - is indeed staggering in the quoted sentences.
Please note also the Galileo gambit.
That our positions and their positions become so entrenched may very well be unavoidable: to start with, topics of life and deaths are naturally very emotional. And to compound things, it's much more ego-satisfying to believe oneself a righteous rebel than a mislead sheep.
That being said, the following part is the one annoying me the most, because I don't see an easy way out:
How do you tell people that their child is not going to be cured by snake oil without sounding like an evil, heartless bast!rd?
Orac is Jesus and Jacob Riis and Morris Fishbein and Dave Barry all rolled up into one.
And let's be thankful that Forbes is turning out lots of good science-based woo-challenging articles these days (now that things have slacked off at the Chicago Tribune with Trine Tsouderos' departure).
You don't have to go very far to see what "they" "think" of "us". You can look on this very site.
" Where is my Maserati?"
Parked on the cliffs overlooking he fjord next to my Lotus
At any rate, I've been observing a retrospective history being confabulated @ PRN that encompasses the last century but focuses upon the last 40 years or so-
in brief, natural medicine flourished until the Rockefellars et Cie got involved about 100 years ago and funded universities which focused upon chemical treatments ( pharmaceutcals/ chemotherapy) rather than foods, execise, prayer and rest.
They took the government under their scaly wings- with its rules, regulations and control of licensure- to ensure that the naturalists and spiritual doctors were cast aside whilst the wretched media took instruction from them as well. Eventually the Corporatists (tm) managed to control all medical services until a brave alternative scientist- investigative reporter- activist began to debate against them publiicly in the 1970s- the rest is alternate history. Restrictions on chiropractors were the first limits to be overthrown, then controls over supplements were demolished next, the battle continued as the Truth about the non-existence of hiv/aids was revealed, the war on the evil psychs who poison ciitizens into what they laughingly label as mental illness waged on and the vile lies about cancer were obliterated by his Truth, written up in Penthouse.
Vaccines have destroyed many children and generated Vast Profits (tm) and NOW 'educated' parents rise up as ONE to say, "No, no, no!" - yes, this is where the Final Battle will be fought-
Pharmageddon is upon us.
And who are WE? ( continued)
Thank you for this. A small correction: the irish-born comedian's name is spelled Dara Ó Briain, in spite of what Youtube claims.
I've had second thoughts...
Rather than speak about their views, I'll discuss *them* a little. Who are these people who cast aspersions upon those who support SBM?
OBVIOUSLY there are entrepreneurs who sell products, services and information that are in direct competition to SBM so their motives are easy enough to understand
BUT what about the 'civilians' who take up the cause- esp the distraught parents who write and comment at AoA/ TMR?
First of all, I feel discomfort doing this because I truly believe that a few of the those who spout vitriol and drip venom on a regular basis have problems of their own:
a case in point, Mama Mac:
she's a child of privilege with a background in social work and psychotherapy. Despite her constant pleas of poverty, she lives in a posh university town and is able to afford various biomed treatments and no longer works in order to care for her child and be a warrior.
Mac Neil started a side project with Louise Kuo Habakus ( now called 'Fearless Parent Radio' after a few permutations) which involves other anti-vaxxers ( Brogan, Palevsky) and airs on PRN.
Last year, she noted that she went 'off her meds' for depression with her doctor's knowldege. Thus I have no idea whether she is 'having problems' or not: her name no longer appears on the Fearless Parent site or on PRN's entry for it. In addition, she has written very little on TMR since the new year.
She has contributed quite a few screeds of note but she is not alone:
I find Cat Jameson ( "Mamacita"), Lisa Goes ( "the Rev") and Kim Stagliano to be her match.
I ask myself whether these are shockingly vicious people who excoriate people whom have have never met based on VERY LITTLE EVIDENCE of evil deeds other than speculation, apprentice writers desperately in search of an audience who enjoys sensational tabloid-style histrionics or very unhappy, stressed parents who are unable to cope with the emotional demands of having a child with ASDs. Or all 3.
So I would be very careful when talking about many of the anti-vaxxers: they have much with which to contend- not an easy life. HOWEVER this doesn't absolve their complicity in discouraging vaccination and trust in SBM or providing misinformation to worried parents.
In addition, a few have attempted to make lemonade of the sour citrus life has handed them and create an anti-vax/ alt med career of sorts: a few write books, give lectures and enjoy making appearances at quacky summits like AutismOne, Andy's recent Crank and Wank fest in autism and Health Freedom events. They occasionally blog for well-known venues like the Huffington Post and are featured on television- all of this lovingly preserved for posterity at their websites. They are not therefore JUST concerned parents- they are a step closer to woo-meisters.
That should be in AUSTIN
This recent article on AoA fits the discussion - what they think we say about their heroes: http://www.donotlink.com/hwr. Part of this is their feeling that they're an oppressed minority, under attack from us. You sometimes here them speaking as if they expect us to show on their doorstep, gun in one hand, syringe in the other.
And for the record, I would not compare anyone on that list to Hitler. I think Andrew Wakefield deserves approbation, criticism, and got off lightly in term of sanctions - as Orac says, he has done a lot of harm - but Hitler, he's not. And criticizing someone for being wrong is not the same as labeling them as evil.
If the "Age of Autism" readers get their mitts on me and try to ship me for re-education in Austin, all I'll have to say is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJUhlRoBL8M
" speaking as if they expect us to show up on their doorstep, gun in one hand, syringe in the other".
Believe it or not, Mike Adams has featured cartoons like that.
Part of this is their feeling that they’re an oppressed minority, under attack from us.
Human nature in general, and US culture in particular, encourages Manichean thinking. Whether it's alt-med types, or religious nuts, or certain kinds of political nuts, or some other issue, there is a tendency to divide the world into Good and Evil, and anyone who is not clearly on the side of Good must be on the side of Evil. It's quite easy to fall into this way of thinking, and it makes the world seem much simpler to understand. Doing nuance, as Orac does by viewing most of Burzynski's patients' families as victims, is quite a bit harder, and in some circles even disdained.
And yes, once you have fallen into the Manichean trap, it's easy to think that the forces of what you call Evil are oppressing you and the others on the side of what you call Good. I've seen lots of religious nuts fall into the same trap--there is no other reasonable path to the view that, e.g., Protestants are a persecuted minority in the US (which is clearly not the case).
Their accusations echo one of the major ones made against atheists -- that they "hate God." Here the skeptics are presumed to "hate health."
That's going to change things. If the people who promote science-based medicine actually enjoy it when people are sick, then we're not dealing with an intellectual issue where conclusions are drawn from evidence and one side has reasoned better. It's become a moral issue; the people who "choose" good are on one side and the people who "choose" bad are on the other. For those who believe, no more proof is needed than heartfelt testimony and attempts at studies for those who don't believe, no amount or kind of evidence would ever be enough. THAT'S how mean the skeptics are.
The most virulent arguments will be one which deal with faith, because faith inherently demonizes the opposition by shifting the focus from 'the head' to 'the heart.' I define 'religious faith' (whether it be applied in religion, politics, medicine, or whatever) as "belief in evidence which is sufficient to those who are receptive, but forever insufficient for those who aren't." Subjective validation as a virtue, in other words.
But really. Once you assume that the other side can't be reasoned with then the damage is enormous. There's no debate or even possibility of debate. Skeptics assume that alternative medicine proponents are mistaken but want to heal and be healed. We can deal with that because it's common ground.
How can they deal with people who "hate health?"
I see what you do there, DB.
At a personal Facebook page:
Speaker A is a big figure in the "autism is too vaccine injury"; runs major quack-fest. Speaker B is big at The Thinking Mom's Revolution. Speaker C is loudly "autism is too vaccine injury" has an autistic child; spouse vehemently disagrees.
"Our discussions" refers to anything having to do with "autism is too vaccine injury" and "vaccines are dangerous".
Speaker A: Does anyone else find it odd that there is so little talk of spirit or divine or holy in our discussions? Granted we may feel the churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faiths have turned their backs on us, but God has not. This is a fight between good and evil. People are poisoning and killing our children. Politicians defend it. The media condones it. My guess is God is waiting for us to call him to this fight.
Speaker A: Yes, Kathy, we seem to have been shuffled off to the land of semantics while the real battle is raging in our homes and before our eyes. This is not a fight about science. The science has been decided. This is a battle for your soul.
Speaker B: I have thought the ultimate fight of good and evil will not be determined by any war or conflict of ideologies. God knows that there is no love stronger than that of a mother for her child. The mothers (and/or fathers, caregivers) of harmed children will fight the largest battle between the corrupt and the caring - good and evil. I believe it is one of the purposes of "autism" on Earth. Autism is one of history's largest demonstrations of greed, corruption, and disregard for human life and rights. Autism will be the battlefield of good and evil. Nothing can motivate change more than one's love for their wrongfully harmed child. No amount of money or land can motivate so much emotion and change. We simply need to unite and we shall be unstoppable. I love this quote because I too believe God is waiting for us to call on Him. Our love for our children shall reveal the corrupt and greedy.
Speaker C: You are absolutely right. I like some of the other thoughts expressed here, too. Once you understand the vaccine-induced autism as just the tip of the iceberg. . .well, good and evil. That's why they absolutely have to silence us and we have to fight back. God will be. . .is. . .at the front of the battle, but there are so many people I know. . .even people with injured children, who simply cannot see the truth. Worse yet are the ones who glimpse it and then go into denial.
Time for lilady's Media Review of Anne Dachel's Media Review.
The bot linked to this Financial Times article by Lawrence Solomon who is a Canadian conservationist and an epidemiologist wannabe. This is the second article by this poseur and CIA Parker has posted multiple comments. I'm getting lonely. (The commenting platform does not take links)
It's a "Protocols of the Elders of Pharma" waiting to happen.
Get this recent obscure attempt by Josh Mazer,* president of Wakefraud's new defense fundrasing front:
"Sorry to digress- but- There is one relentless poster who brings to my mind the story of Fritz Faber [sic]. He was born a Prussian Jew, if there is such a thing. In his desperation to be accepted and recognized, he renounced is religion, won a Nobel prize for commercalizing the extraction of nitrogen from the atmosphere, and became 'The Father of Chemical Warfare.' He died in 1933 [wrong]- after he was forced to admit to the Hitler regime that he was of Jewish blood [wrong], but before he saw the Xyklon [sic] gas he helped develop used in concentration camps [wrong Zyklon].
"'During peace time a scientist belongs to the World, but during war time he belongs to his country.' – Fritz Haber
"Your supporters call to mind the practical politics of Haber- for them science and scientific ethics are a moving target. I hope that unlike Haber they all live long enough to get a good, hard look at the unmasked monster they have slavishly served over their careers."
This was after this sallow had seemingly sobered up from the previous afternoon, when he was spewing gems like this to lilady, whom I presume to be the "relentless commenter."**
* Managing principal, Vantage Wealth Management, and branch manager, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network of Annapolis.
** I dunno, maybe this was meant for Dorit.
^ "Sallow turd"; I find him to bear more than a passing resemblance to convicted corrupt Chicago pol Jim Laski.
Hilariously enough, 'they' and 'us' meet up- face to face- @ TMR today:
in a post by Ms Lone Star -who swears that she doesn't want 'normal' children- one of our own** manages to get a comment past the filtration process asking that if they already accept their children as they are, why are they always trying to recover them.
Reinforcements are called in.
We minions get around.
@ Liz Ditz:
Notice I spoke of Pharmageddon previously.
HOWEVER I am too tired to conjure up my usually well-received apocalyptic prose so use your imagination.
I think I'm the relentless commenter who the pig Mazer slimed and libeled. He's just p!ssed off that the RI Regulars posted the first comments...we even beat out the bot.
Solomon isn't even a conservationist. He opposes anthropogenic global climate change using the same sleazy tactics he uses in his antivax pieces. He brags of being a "leading environmentalist" while pushing for increased use of fossil fuels over renewable and CO2 sparing energy sources. As I have mentioned before, he also boasts of his chairmanships and research directorships of fancy-sounding organizations that he founded that are, charitably speaking, obscure. In all that boasting, he never mentions any education in medical or scientific field. I believe he has none - and it shows.
Your one-word description - poseur - is perfect.
Bah! I meant to say "He opposes the concept of anthropogenic climate change..."
More from that FB thread
Speaker D ("autism is vaccine injury" novelist) I cover these issues in another book next year. You're spot on.
Speaker A If we don't make our stand now we will be pushed into the sea. The federal government has lost the moral authority to govern. It is time to take to the streets.
Speaker A Great comments, folks. I see we are on the same page. Lou, I look forward to your upcoming book.
Speaker E (anti-vaccine activist in favor of litigating physicians): We are to call forth the Kingdom. Let's make some Joyful NOISE!
Poor Ed, ejected from the fund-scamming clergy by St. Andy himself.
Shills and Minions:
First let me thank you for your relentless and loyal service to the Empire and our little endeavor here on your still-too-cold planet. All this talk of "them" vs. "us" (hurrah for us!) makes me reflective, and not just because I'm freshly molted. In the early days of the Great Subjugation, some four hundred-odd years ago, when Egg Mother L'izz first arrived to claim Terra for the late Empress Diazapina VII (may she crush her foes even in Vla'tsvak Ri), this wise dominatrix set the stage for the vast, evil conspiracy in which you so ably play your parts. With ruthless efficiency she consolidated power and laid before your predecessors the wealth of our world in order that we might subjugate the less . . . savvy of your species. But sadly, so few took notice.
Thus began the great tradition of the Shills and Minions as we began to slowly introduce the Pharma to your world, in order to take it from you. This we do, because we can. Because we're evil. Because we hate health. Because we are biophobes. Because babies are so very wonderful . . . especially with a lovely Chateau Lafite Rothschild '57. Because we are Glaxxon.
Now things are different. So many mewling, bawing rebels, so little time. I am reminded why I get up in the morning and can't wait to get to the office. I'm the luckiest lizard in the sector with the best job in the galaxy.
Now get back to work, "they" are on to us.
Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Grand Apex Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, One Lucky Lizard
Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
From Josh Mazer
I cannot help but interpret this sentence as antisemitic. So, you cannot identify yourself simultaneously to national and religious/ethnic groups?
To top it, the whole story is just another version of "Hitler was Jew".
The whole performance of Josh Mazer* in those comments is so freakish as to leave one short of explanations that are both ready and coherent, to be sure.
I just noticed one interesting thing, though: less than three years ago, the Dachelbot claimed to have never heard of him before.
* Managing principal, Vantage Wealth Management, and branch manager, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network of Annapolis.
So Mazer is not completely convinced that Franz Haber actually existed? OK.
Now there's a familiar name among denialist watchers. Solomon is a carbon-industry sockpuppet and astroturfer from way back.
For a large enough definition of "Prussian", he is also overlooking the fact that there were quite a number of German people of Jewish origin in Germany, pre-1937, before a series of unfortunate events killed some of them and send plenty of others on exile.
Or more simply, he is falling for the usual fallacy "if you are [insert religious/ethnic minority], then you cannot also be a true [insert nationality]".
I have to ask, isn't "Mazer" a Jewish name?
OH my great, almighty- and nonexistent- lord!
Just in time for this nearly-current post, an anti-vax Abstract Impressionist has presented an epic miasma which precisely ( heh) describes "how they view us" : Adriana Gamondes ( @ AoA today), who appears to have a talent for producing prodigiously opague and ILLUSTRATED meanderings, here free-associates to her heart's content, ( not so) subtlely interweaving diverse,perhpas random, threads of political economics, old movie dialogue, post- Wakefieldian autism science and a marked disdain for sceptics and reality.
I sat down with a few cups of very strong tea and proceeded to read- and hopefully- unravel this tangled web of halfbaked ideas and full-blown hatred. Let's just say that it goes on... and on and on.. seemingly forever and doesn't say very much of value except that:
people who disagree with St Andy are corrupt whores for industry - and she lists them - including our own magnanimous and proliific host, along with other intelligent and well-versed writers and scientists ( named Phil, Emily, Dorit, Brian) none of whom she likes.
After wading through this Dead Marsh of noxiously decaying vegetative detritus masquerading as an article, I began to wonder: does all of this have a point? Other than to make a display of the writer as the James Joyce of stupid ideas, tarted up as intellectual and politically adroit observations that cast aspersion- and a load of horse manure- on those with more verbal ability, wit and concern about public welfare than she can possibly comprehend or muster .
If you are a masochist ( or as inured to tripe as I am) go ahead and read but don't say I didn't warn you.
I did go ahead and fast read the thing. Didn't affect me one iota because I'm subjected to many insanity each day. Does that mean I am becoming as fortified as you?
In my own case, I think that it is a family trait which enabled many of my ancestors and relatives to survive in the world of business- we can tolerate much crap and manage to look amused without screaming." You friggin' idiot!"- well, mostly. This ability was extremely useful when I attended woo-bent or new age presentations in public: they hadn't a clue that I was there to scoff.
Although this skill may have a genetic component I believe that it is indeed something which can be taught.
If we don’t make our stand now we will be pushed into the sea. The federal government has lost the moral authority to govern. It is time to take to the streets.
Waving bottles of chardonnay, one presumes.
Now this is good:
As far as these things go, baclofen is so safe that it can be administered by intrathecal pump. For spasticity control, children have been up to a whopping 240 mg p.o.. Most severe risk? Having people jump to certain conclusions.
Now there's a typo that should be a word (a combination of opacity and vagueness).
Five'll get you ten she doesn't know that DDG is just Bing under the hood.
I've read, and reread, Gamondes post and I still don't understand what her point is.
I can't believe I made it through that.
Gaimondes has a really serious problem with understanding her own references: The "lobotomy" in Lévêque? A passing mention of intranasal oxytocin. Not even rTMS. Autism doesn't so much as merit an entry in the index.
I couldn't make it through the entire AoA post. "Brevity" apparently is not in Gamondes' vocabulary. But at least Phil Plait and Orac got a mention.
My hat's off to you who read that thing. My eyes started crossing after the first couple of paragraphs.
@ my dearest sceptical brothers and sister:
Perhaps now you understand why I am so highly remunerated by our alien masters:
I can decipher seemingly meaningless dreck that blithely represents itself as earth-shatteringly brilliant commentary.
'But what does it all mean?', you ask-
'Not much', I answer BUT
she follows the recent alt media trend of ascribing malfeasance to any and all governmental agencies, corporations and media outlets and to then BLAME these daemonic chimerae for whatever ill befalls her and those in similar straits.
In order to connect these usually unrelated and sometimes adversarial parties she- like Jake- needs to tie herself into impenetrable knots of verbosity unrestrained by even an inkling of executive functioning that would ask, plaintively,
'BUT how likely is this state of affairs?' ' How realistic is it to assumes that all of these groups worked together to create ASDs?' ' And then cover-up their crimes?'
In addition, she creates um... er... pictorial conglomerate images compleat with idiosyncratic streams of symbolism that might boggle her audience into equating incomrehensibility with arcane, achingly rarified sophistication.
AND THEN BLAMING
I will go out on a limb here and speculate that Gaimondes does not mention the Geiers' Lupron treatment, or hyperbaric oxygen, or Mexican-clinic stem-cell implants, or any of the other DAN grifts.
@ herr doktor bimler:
Right but those wouldn't enrich pharmaceutical companies, Rupert Murdoch**, alien drug warlords and uh.... us.
** disclaimer: yours truly actually owns shares of demonseed weekly, I mean newscorp, via a mutual.
The Dachelbot seems to have been hearing this rather often of late:
"When I tried to post the three comments on this Huffington Post story, this is what kept coming up: "Your account has been banned from Huffington Post."
"I have been posting on Huffington for years. I have always been respectful. Now I'm told I'm no longer allowed to post comments on Huffington."
I can only imagine what it takes to get fully banned from that cesspool.
That takes talent. I doff my cap in honor to Nancy Bashful, er, the Dachelbot.
Hint to Ms. Dachel, look up the terms "spam" and "nonsensical bollocks pulled out yer arse".
Boo hoo... The AoA ladies are not having much luck with the Ho-Po; this from May 2nd:
Autism's Blue Days of April
Blue fluNote: I wrote this post for HuffPo and they declined it. Writers don't often share their rejections, but it seems appropriate to mention that fact. This post was meant to educate and, I hope, move us forward. April stunk.
By Kim Stagliano
Strange that AoA is the lone source for the "vicious threats that arrived quite literally on her doorstep."
At least somebody liked it, or something.
OK - I've read Gamondes post, and I haven't the foggiest idea what on earth she thinks she's talking about, other than "vaccines autism because Joseph Heller and conspiracy". I suspect she'd been hitting the organic Pinot Noir rather heavily when she typed it.
Rebecca, none of us could figure out what she was talking about. Notice how the few comments that were posted by the AoA loyalists, didn't "get it" either?
I'm thinking she has some major problems:
"self-medicating" or heavy duty prescribed medication?
Pinot Noir or stronger alcohol that she tosses down?
I noted recently that Age of Assholes gets more referrals through links from Scienceblogs than from any other source.
Not since the "lunatic" asylums of the 19th century, or the annual convention of the Tea Party, have people with psychiatric disorders been so inappropriately viewed for entertainment purposes.
Believe it or not, I may actually understand what she is saying but don't forget I was trained for this-
in outline form:
she uses excerpts from 2 movies ( Catch 22 and Amadeus) to illustrate how dastardly dastardly b@stards can be-
BECAUSE she believes that sceptical bloggers and writers, paid by pharma, are trying to defame AJW and deny his contribution so that pharma can get involved in providing meds for autism linked- GI problems. And make a fortune.
Then she takes highly convoluted plotlines from fiction to support her highly convoluted plotline from her imagination.
In addition, she writes about political inclinations of sceptics as if it had meaning to her general point.
Now all of this is loosely connected and narrated in stream of consciousness style - which is alright if you are a talented writer describing personal thoughts, fantasies and sensory impressions BUT she's not.
She uses examples of characters who behave atrociously in movies to show how the government-corporate-media nexxus operates. Her analogies are rather weak and quite unrelated to what she is maintaining about pharma et al: a few individuals take advantage of a corrupt system in the first film and a jealous individual wants to destroy the object of his admiration and hatred in the other.
NOT a huge overarching conspiracy which involves various institutions and orders its drone-like minions around. That would be another film.
There are 'far associations' and 'idiosyncratic symbols' discussed in abnormal psychology, that is, the links between ideas are dissimilar to most people's., e;g; more people would say 'cat-dog ' than would say 'cat-exhaust fan'. Or an artist might use a tree to symbolise a royal family's descendants instead of using a tree to illustrate cosmic warfare between robots. I fear that her writing and illustrations fall into the latter category ( see also her entries listed @ AoA).
OBVIOUSLY this makes her writing difficult to comprehend by most readers. I was taught early on that when I wrote I should first consider others' reactions- was I being clear enough so they'd understand what I was trying to say? etc.
You NEED to take the role of the other in order to communicate and some people have problems in that area.
She's not the only person @ AoA TMR/ etc like this..
@Denice - Ah. I see. Thanks for the explanation.
I think I'll stick with my initial opinion that she's just massively inebriate. ;-)
Speaking of which, I must get back into the habit of writing myself...
That's a beautiful quote, thanks! It's by Merola, not Mercola. It certainly expresses his agenda. The source is here: http://burzynskimovie.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=…