I love the smell of the pharma shill gambit in the morning. It smells like...crankery.

I promised myself that I was done writing about Jenny McCarthy this week. Two posts, a lengthy one and a brief one, lamenting her being hired for a national daytime talk show was, in my view, enough. Unfortunately, something's happened that makes me want to make like Arnold Schwarzenegger in that famous scene from the 1980s action flick Commando, in which he had promised one villain that he would kill him last. Later in the film while holding this same villain over a cliff, Arnold says, "Remember when I promised I would kill you last? I lied."

Except that I wasn't lying at the time. I really didn't want to write any more about McCarthy for a good long while.

But then I saw who's come out to play again, after a very long absence! After seeing that, I knew I had to take one more dip from the well. Obviously, I'm not referring to Jake Crosby. He's been out to play for months now with his amusing stoking of internecine warfare among antivaccine cranks as the puppet of über-crank Patrick "Timmy" Bolen and now his brand new personal blog, created after he was finally booted from his previous gig at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism (AoA). This time around I'm talking about the former big macher of the "mercury in vaccines cause autism" wing of the antivaccine movement, the man who just a few short years ago popped up regularly on television as founder and president of the antivaccine crank group Generation Rescue before Jenny McCarthy glommed on to the organization and was made President, the better to take advantage of her Hollywood glitz in the service of forwarding its aims. This is a man whose titanic ego, combined with his truly rabid anti-intellectualism and pugnacious manner that led him to lash out at people who had the temerity to suggest that GR in general (and Handley in particular) didn't know what they were talking about and were promoting pseudoscience and quackery, led him to some monumental tirades.

Handley's been gone for a while now, keeping a much lower profile. The last time I can remember writing anything about him was two years ago, when, after a hilariously bit of inept detective work in which he had embarrassed himself by concluding that one of our favorite pro-vaccine science bloggers, Sullivan, was in fact Bonnie Offit, wife of the Dark Lord of Vaccination (in Handley's eyes) Paul Offit. Even more hilariously, Handley promised that, if he were wrong, he would give up ownership of the pauloffit.com domain, which he had been using to attack Paul Offit, and never mention Paul Offit again. As a result, a brief but amusing little meme circulated in which many of us declared, Spartacus-like, that "I am Bonnie Offit." A few months later, it was revealed that Sullivan—surprise! surprise!—was not Bonnie Offit, leading to a demand to J.B. Handley to put up or shut up about Paul Offit. Surprisingly, he actually did give up ownership of the domain and, even more shockingly, stopped mentioning (sort of) Paul Offit for a while anyway.

Not anymore, apparently. It appears that the near-universal dismay and anger expressed by nearly everyone interested in the topic who is not an antivaccine activist over the hiring of Jenny McCarthy to be a regular panelist on the daytime talk show The View has prodded J.B. to make like the proverbial old gunslinger in a western who had hung up his guns for good to reluctantly put on his holster again, saddle up, and ride off to do battle with the ne'er-do-wells who dare to attack his Jenny as antivaccine. The truth hurts, apparently, enough for him to come out swinging again in a post on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism entitled Pharma's McCarthy-ism in Full View. Yes, it's unoriginal, as usual. I particularly hate the play on McCarthy's name to evoke the specter of Joe McCarthy, but I have to admit that both sides do it, although it seems to me that the antivaccine movement likes this particular ploy much more because it lets it paint itself as being a victim of a witch hunt whenever reasonable people point out that Jenny McCarthy has been an antivaccine loon. To nail home that connection, Handley even starts with a a quote of a definition of "McCarthyism." Well, J.B. never was particularly subtle—the understatement of the decade!—so why should he start now? He also apparently has decided to break his pledge not to mention Paul Offit again. (Surprise! Surprise!) Because, you know, in the mind of an antivaccinationist, any time there is any sort of media campaign critical of the antivaccine movement, it must be because of Paul Offit. He's just that powerful, which is why we, his pharma minions, worship him so.

Handley starts off by trying to make it seem as though McCarthy isn't a crank by invoking—you guessed it!—other celebrities who have "expressed concerns" about vaccines and autism, apparently because no one has more scientific knowledge than celebrities:

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Of course, we all know the answer: they have publicly expressed concerns about the relationship between vaccines and autism.

If you just started reading newspapers this week, you may not realize all the company Jenny has in a controversy that's far from over. Wasn't it just a few short months ago that a congressional panel was hammering CDC employees in a hearing about this very same link? Where are all the articles calling for all these powerful elected officials to step down?

OK, Bernardine Healy was a real scientist and director of the NIH, but for some reason she turned antivaccine crank later in life to the point where she was even named Age of Autism's "Person of the Year" for 2008. If that's not the mark of an antivaccine crank, I don't know what is! As for the rest? Don Imus? Seriously? That tired old washed up shock jock's basically been "thimerosal causes autism" conspiracy loon since long before I even took an interest in the topic. Donald Trump is so stupid when it comes to vaccines that he can't even get the tropes right. I know, I know, as I pointed out at the time, I realize that criticizing Donald Trump for being an antiscience idiot is rather akin to criticizing water for being wet or Donald Trump’s hair for having a life of its own, but sometimes a blogger’s just gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do, particularly when he’s preoccupied with real science. The same goes for the rest of the celebrity cranks who spew antivaccine talking points. Basically Handley's gambit boils down to one big appeal to authority, except that the authorities to whom he's chosen to appeal aren't exactly authorities on autism or vaccines.

One other point: I'll call Handley's bluff. Darrell Issa, the Congressional Representative who called that antiscience "autism hearing" in November, should not be reelected. He's an antiscience crank on many levels, not just vaccines and autism. As I learned at TAM from Michael Mann's excellent talk, he's also a climate science denialist. There are many reasons for him not to be re-elected. Ditto any elected representative who works to endanger public health by working with the antivaccine movement.

So who's orchestrating this "vicious" campaign against Jenny McCarthy, in which dozens of articles have been published in the mainstream media over the last few days, ever since the announcement was made on Monday that she would be joining the cast of The View? I think the title makes it obvious. To Handley, it must be big pharma, of course, and it must be doing it because it's terrified of the platform that McCarthy will have to expose its evil machinations in her new gig. What's really hilarious is just how thin the evidence is that Handley can dig up to "prove" his point. Who's responsible for this barrage? Obviously, it must be Every Child By Two, Paul Offit (of course!), and affiliated pharma drones. Don't believe me? Just listen to J.B.:

Every Child By Two, a Pharma front group, leads the charge. ECBT's funding comes from 2 sources: Wyeth and Sanofi (any reporter could easily confirm this by reading their 990, but they don't.) They appear to be a responsible advocate for vaccinating because they were founded by Rosalyn Carter thirty years ago, so the group is a great way for Pharma to hide behind something credible-sounding. ECBT takes charge of press briefings, etc.

It would be quite amazing and gratifying if ECBT and Paul Offit had that sort of influence. The world would be a better place, and antivaccine activists like Jenny McCarthy wouldn't have such sway. In fact, it would be awesome. Sadly, it's just a fantasy in Handley's conspiracy-addled mind. This backlash against the hiring of Jenny McCarthy was her own doing. If you promote dangerous pseudoscience for so many years, quackery that can and has endangered public health, then you shouldn't be surprised when people react with revulsion when a major network (in this case, ABC) gives you a high profile position where you'll be seen every day by millions. My first reaction was to shrug my shoulders and go, "Meh!" However, after thinking a bit about it I changed my mind. Also, even though I sometimes wonder whether Jenny McCarthy on The View might be a good thing because it might force her to resign as president of GR and stop showing up at the yearly antivaccine quackfest known as Autism One to give a keynote address because ABC might have demanded it in her contract, it remains to be seen whether any of these good things might come about. In the meantime, I do know that she has potentially been given a high profile platform from which she might be able to spew her antivaccine drivel, and that's a bad thing, as is ABC's apparent lack of concern about its appearance of endorsing (or at least not condemning) her previous assaults on public health.

Next up, Handley appears to believe we're all pharma shills:

- The writers and quote-makers are called in on all fronts:

1. Pharma-whore writers who are literally on Pharma's payroll

2. Pharma-benefitting writers (think Seth Mnookin) who have benefitted greatly from Pharma's largesse (speaking fees, etc)

3. Orac-types who work in medical facilities that rely on Pharma's funding

4. And, finally, publications that receive a majority of their ad dollars from Pharma

- Then, Pharma's army of paid trolls start dominating the comment boards to make it appear like the public is equally outraged.

Handley is so full of number two, that the feculent discharge can be detected from his enclave in the Pacific Northwest all the way to the East Coast. It's the pharma shill gambit in such an obvious, silly form that it's hard for me not to laugh a little, particularly at his mention of me. (OK, I laughed a lot.) To conspiracy theorists like Handley, apparently the power of pharma lucre is so powerful that one only has to work at an institution that has received pharma funding to be tainted. It's just that magic, and you don't even have to be aware that your institution is receiving that filthy pharma lucre, much less how much or for what. No doubt Lord Draconis Zeneca is pleased. I also can't help but express a little pedantic, style Nazi amusement at one of Handley's sentences: "Pharma-benefitting writers (think Seth Mnookin) who have benefitted greatly from Pharma's largesse (speaking fees, etc)." There's a word "redundant" that J.B. apparently doesn't know. Learn it. Use it. Love it, J.B.

Of course, two can play that game. Who, one wonders, is funding Generation Rescue? Who, one wonders, is funding Age of Autism? Inquiring minds want to know!

To counter what he sees as "misinformation," Handley makes the following assertions:

We should all be pleased with the violent reaction from Pharma. It shows how deeply the concerns about the vaccine-autism link have spread. Parents are doing their own research! I sincerely hope ABC has done their own independent research to discover what's actually true:

  • The majority (certainly not all) of parents of children with autism believe vaccines played a role in their child developing autism
  • Nearly half of new parents are concerned about giving their babies vaccines
  • Millions of moms trust Jenny to be honest, courageous, and fearless about her feelings and beliefs, no matter how much pressure there may be to hide or change

To which I can't help but respond:

  • Citation please
  • Citation please
  • Citation please

OK, it's probably true that half of new parents express concerns about vaccines, but in general by "concerns" we're not talking about the kind of demonization and fear of vaccines that Handley expresses. He also forgets to mention that this is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy. It is due to the efforts of people like Handley spreading antivaccine pseudoscience, quackery, and lies, aided and abetted by a credulous press that values false balance over scientific accuracy, that so many parents have concerns, to the point where Handley gloats over it.

When McCarthy was first announced as a new permanent of the cast of The View on Monday, I was rather surprised that the usual suspects in the antivaccine movement were so silent. There were, at least initially, no congratulations to her and no gloating. It made me wonder whether antivaccinationists knew that she might very well be on the verge of abandoning them, now that her strategy of downplaying the antivaccine quackery over the last couple of years has finally payed off in resurrecting her career. It may well still be that that's true. However, the overwhelmingly negative reaction from pretty much everyone not part of the antivaccine movement to her hiring stung them. It was enough to cause them to circle the wagons, and it was even enough to prod J.B. Handley out of semiretirement to break his promise from two years ago not to mention Paul Offit anymore. Unfortunately, we'll have plenty of opportunity to see how this plays out over the next several months.

There. Now I hope I can abandon this topic for a while and move on to other science, medicine, pseudoscience, and pseudomedicine topics.

More like this

To counter what he sees as “misinformation,” Handley makes the following assertions:

<voice="Mr. Rogers">Can you say "argumentum ad populam", boys and girls? I knew you could.</voice>

All three of those statements might be technically true. None of them has any bearing on whether the claim that vaccines cause autism is true.

Remember, Mr. Handley, even if they did laugh at Galileo and Einstein, they also laughed at Bozo the clown.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

Worth mentioning: Big Pharma would profit far more if people stopped vaccinating, given how much more expensive treatment is than prevention.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

"When McCarthy was first announced as a new permanent of the cast of The View on Monday, I was rather surprised that the usual suspects in the antivaccine movement were so silent. There were, at least initially, no congratulations to her and no gloating."

Dan Olmsted was the only person on "AoA" who did any gloating. Anne Dachel reflexively feared that Jenny was being "set up."

By Sebastian Jackson (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

Oh, JB:

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Of course, we all know the answer: they have publicly expressed concerns about the relationship between vaccines and autism.

Why should we care what any of these people have said about vaccines and autism?

Have any of them compiled a case with extensive, unimpeachable support in the research literature?

If yes, then we can give them a fair hearing.

If not, what they have to say means diddly squat.

By Composer99 (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

Oh, me, blockquote fail.

By Composer99 (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

MESSAGE BEGINS----------------------------

Shills, Minions and "Orac Types" . . .

Imagine my excitement upon discovering that my deliciously evil work is causing the rebels to spew venom and tremble with terror. And speaking of terror, fear not, the much feared Ah'k ah'k mavoon v'mrekk (the leathery egg-mother of the daytime) Barbara Walters, is most certainly on the Corpus payroll. Yes shills and minions, she's one of us, she's on the take and she has a plan, an evil one, of course.

Her evil plan is to muzzle the pulchritudinous, potty-mouthed, princess with steady fame and piles and piles of filthy PharmaLucre™, thus bringing an end to her "activism." Another screechy, troublesome monkey lured into compliance with a ripe banana and a shiny object or two. It's almost too easy.

And so, the rebels scurry and swarm in disarray, their bleatings more pathetic than ever. I mean really, have you read the recent, disingenuously chipper posts of Dr. Jay (Did you miss me? Did you miss me?) Gordon, or the oddly circular cluelessness laid down by the insufferably prim, self-satisfied Greg? Utterly pitiable.

Meanwhile, in dim, subterranean vaults, armies of shadowy technicians tend to vast rows of bubbling, fuming vaccine vats, churning out ever more toxic and soporific concoctions with which to weaken and enslave humanity. Be sure of it my marvelous Minions, our scaly, cold grip on your miserable little rock grows ever tighter. The plan unfolds, the PharmaLucre™ flows.

Good times Shills and Minions, good times.

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Author of The Purpose Driven Knife

Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital

---------------------------------------------------------MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

The majority (certainly not all) of parents of children with autism believe vaccines played a role in their child developing autism

It was only 2.1% of the parents in the UK study I cited on another thread earlier (Lingam 2003), and 2/3 of them blamed MMR. It may be more now, of course, but that begs the question as to whether parental observations of their children are as infallible as antivaxxers often claim. If they are that in-tune with their children, why didn't they notice the effects of vaccines until it was pointed out to them?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

However, the overwhelmingly negative reaction from pretty much everyone not part of the antivaccine movement to her hiring stung them.

Oh, I bet it did. The antivaxxers sealed themselves off so completely in their echo chamber after St. Andy's downfall that it hasn't registered until now that the rest of the world doesn't take them seriously anymore. It's a far cry from the glory days of a decade ago when they routinely got media play in the name of "balance." They persist in thinking their only opposition is we Dracono-skeptuals and that the magical evidence that will vindicate their views is just on the verge of breaking through.

I'd almost feel sorry for them if their cluelessness wasn't so f*cking dangerous to other people, especially their own children.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

One of the things that's gratifying to me about the whole McCarthy dustup is how many previously-silent folk have protested Jenny's appointment.

I noticed that he left Rob Schneider off his list of celebrity vaccine loonies. I guess Schneider is so transparently dopey that he's not considered an asset. And yes, even though Roger Ebert has passed on to that big movie house in the sky, Schneider's movie still sucks.

Glaxxon @6 -- "pulchritudinous, potty-mouthed, princess" -- you win the day!

By palindrom (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

OT: but is a gathering of well-known anti-vaccine activists assembling together to form a consortium ever TRULY OT @RI?

Via TMR today, I learned of a new website/ blog/ dis-information purveyor called "nurtureparenting.com".

During AutismOne I suspected that something awful was afoot when 3 women shared the stage talking about their books- and- I was correct ( as I usually am):
the new site is the project of Alison MacNeil, Jennifer Margolis and Louise Kuo Habakus ( and another writer) and lists amongst its "experts" Drs Kelly Brogan and Lawrence Palevsky.
Oh boy! ( oh, girl?)
They list "events"** they sponsor.

** are events anything like raves?
If so, we should go.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

OT: but is Stupid expanding at a rate orders of magnitude higher than that of the known universe soon to ungulf it in its entirety if we don't do something quickly EVER truly OT @ RI?

Over the past few days, Mikey ( Natural News) has pontificated upon "The fall of reason: How to protect your sanity in an insane world ( and achieve spiritual victory in the process)" wherein he compares most people to mindless zombies whilst his audience of course towers above the hulking masses of mandkind's lowly average.

Then he announces that his site will undergo a metamorphosis, both in content and technically. He hints that it will allow greater audience participation or suchlike-

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Edith - Reality is a cold mistress. She's well and truly shoved the collective heads of the anti-vax "activists" down the toilet of truth. Apparently the fact-swirly has freaked them out a bit.

Like you said, their party's well and truly over. Mid-July and their Christmas decorations are still up, but they're so caught up in the games and festivities that they haven't noticed the clear skies and sunshine. Muppets.

@Lord Draconis - That last payment came just in time for that sale at enslavehumanity.com. The Bilderberg Tool Kit will increase my productivity by a third, so I consider it a real investment.

DW @#12 - Wow. Whatever he's smoking? He should probably stop. He sounds uncannily like the guy I mentioned yesterday, seeing "signs" and issuing warnings about humanity being enslaved.

At least he had the excuse of being an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic. One who was so out of touch with reality that he thought I was his daughter, and that the government were manufacturing "fake" tin foil that lacked the shielding/protective qualities of the real deal.

Let's just hope none of Mikey's disciples read anything into his "hints" that isn't there, and do something regrettable as a result.

I was not surprised to see that Handley asked that those as foolish as he is to "call every reporter on the planet to arrange a well-coordinated barrage of negative articles" [regarding Paul Offit] despite that the articles that he suggests are so rife with errors and repeatedly-refuted misinformation that Handley is urging the distribution of lies.

So Handley's a liar and breaker of agreements? Say it ain't so.

"Big Pharma is Everywhere
(with apologies to Mojo Nixon)

When I look out into your eyes out there,
When I look out into your faces,
You know what I see?
I see a little bit of Big Pharma
In each and every one of you out there.

Lemme tell ya...

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P's
Inside of you and me

Big Pharma is everywhere, man!
It's in everything.
It’s in everybody...

Big Pharma is in your jeans.
It’s in your cheesburgers
Big Pharma is in Nutty Buddies!
Big Pharma is in your mom!

It’s in everybody.
It’s in the young, the old,
the fat, the skinny,
the white, the black
the brown and the blue
people got Big Pharma in 'em too

Big Pharma is in everybody out there.
Everybody's got Big Pharma in them!
Everybody except one person that is...
Yeah, one person!
The evil opposite of Big Pharma.
The Anti-Big Pharma

Anti-Big Pharma got no Big Pharma in 'em,
lemme tell ya.

J.B. Handley has no Big Pharma in him.

And Big Pharma is in Joan Rivers
but It’s trying to get out, man!
It’s trying to get out!
Listen up Joanie Baby!

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P's
Inside of you and me

Man, there's a lot of unexplained phenomenon
out there in the world.
Lot of things people say
What the heck's going on?

Let me tell ya!

Who built the pyramids?
Who built Stonehenge?

Yeah, man you see guys
walking down the street
pushing shopping carts
and you think they're talking to allah,
they're talking to themself.
Man, no they're talking to BIG PHARMA!

You know whats going on in that Bermuda Triangle?
Down in the Bermuda Traingle
Big Pharma needs boats.
Big Pharma needs boats.
Big Pharma Big Pharma Big Pharma
Big Pharma Big Pharma Big Pharma
Big Pharma needs boats.

Aahh! The Sailing Big Pharma!
Captain Big Pharma!
Commodore Big Pharma it is.

Yeah man, you know people from outer space [DRACONIS],
people from outer space they come up to me.
They don't look like like Doctor Spock.
They don't look like Klingons,
all that Star Trek jive.

They look like Big Pharma.
Everybody in outer space looks like Big Pharma.
Cause Big Pharma is a perfect being.
We are all moving in perfect peace and harmony towards Big Pharmaness

Soon all will become Big Pharma.
Everything everywhere will be Big Pharma.
Why do you think they call it evolution anyway?
It's really Big Pharmalution!
Big Pharmalution!

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big E's
Inside of you and me

That's right ladies and gentlemen,
The time has come!
Time has come to talk
To that little bit of Big Pharma inside of you.

Talk to it!
Call it up!
Say "Big Pharma, heal me!"
"Save me, Big Pharma!"
"Make me be born again
in the perfect Big Pharma light"

That's right!
You've got that Big Pharma inside of ya
and It’s talkin to ya
He says he wants you to sing!
Everybody's got to sing like the king!

Like the king
Get that leg going now
Get your lip too.
Not no fool Andrew Wakefileldl lip either
Yeah, we're rockin now!

Big Pharma is with us.
It’s with us and It’s speaking to us.
He says "Peoples!"
"Everybody got to sing!"

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P's
Inside of you and me

Big Pharma is everywhere
Big Pharma is everything
Big Pharma is everybody
Big Pharma is still the king

Man o man
What I want you to see
Is that the big P's
Inside of you and me

Big Pharma!

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Chris Hickie - you win the Internet today. Long live Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

One has to wonder what Richard Besser, MD, the Chief Health and Medical Editor at ABC News, and former acting director of the CDC, has to say about this.

By AutismNewsBeat (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

Speaking as a paid troll, I just want to know where my check is. And don't keep telling me "in the mail."

Krebiozen (#7)

studies by one group in the U.S. have claimed that 33% or 42% (42% more recent and 33% older) believe that toxins in vaccines are a possible cause. This is different from saying that they believe that vaccines caused autism in their own child. It is one thing to say, "it's possible" and "it's the cause for my kid". Obviously "it's possible" is going to be a larger number.


For reference, other causes queried included "Will of God" got 46.4%, Genetics 75.8%

Another recent study claimed 22% of parents believed that vaccines were a possible cause

Again, this is a different question from asking if they believed that vaccines caused autism in their own child.

Even taking the most "optimistic" number (42%) and assuming that all of them thought the question was about causation for their own child, "majority" is wrong.

But that's standard fare. Exaggerate your numbers. NAA did it once, claiming some vast amount of "dues paying members" when their own tax forms showed the number was about 10 times lower.

By Matt Carey (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

In other news:

Jake ( Autism Investigated.com) finds fault with the Times..
oh no, not THAT Times, the other Times.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink


Poor Jake. He has trouble understanding simple concepts. They asked him what gave him the impression that he was right, and he said that he was right because they never said to him he was wrong in the previous exchanges. If I tell you that the sky is pink, and you don't tell me that it's blue, am I justified in stating that it's pink? I mean, look at this:

"The specific place where Mr. Hoyt and Mr. Brock gave me that impression was when I cited the ethical guidelines showing Gardiner Harris held an undisclosed conflict of interest in my last response to them, they did not take issue with any part of my interpretation. If they had, I think they would have said so to clarify the journalistic code of ethics for reporters at The Times. The fact that Mr. Hoyt and Mr. Brock did not appear to take any such issue, however, implied tacit confirmation of my points. "

I added the bold. Seriously, what kind of pathology are we dealing with here? Because they didn't take issue (i.e. ignored him) it "implied tacit confirmation of [Jake's] points"? Holy crap, everyone! We're going to have to refute every single one of Jake's arguments or it will mean that we confirm his points if we don't.

He sounds like Greg. Remember when Greg asked some idiotic question and outright wrote that not answering his idiotic question was some sort of admission on our part?

Any mental health experts? What's the major malfunction there?

Jake needs to learn simple diplomatic speech.

"It is open to interpretation" means "you are welcome to your interpretation even though it is clearly incorrect."

It also means a phrase I know Jake has heard before: "we are done here"

Jake was trolling for juicy quotes and the Times didn't deliver. They can read his blog posts. Unlike Jake, they can make logical conclusions.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink


Jake left out an important phrase:

"They did not take issue with any part of my interpretation, in an email reply"

I suspect they took issue with his interpretation. I bet they took issue with it as the punch line of many jokes. They just didn't include Jake in the conversation.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink


You are the Sith Lord of vaccines. If you do not take issue with my interpretation, I will know I am correct.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

MESSAGE BEGINS--------------------------------------------------

Miss Flinders has grown quite aggitated and wishes to add the following "If you ain't got Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixin'." Not sure what that means, but as she would say, "whatevs."

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Master of Milkmen

Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital

-----------------------------------------------------MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

What's 'The View'? Does anybody watch it?

By nz sceptic (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

(with apologies to Mojo Nixon)

As I'm packing, I just discovered that I still have that on vinyl.

(One could probably also riff off of "Mushroom Maniac," but it would take some time.)

Matt Carey #21,

Even taking the most “optimistic” number (42%) and assuming that all of them thought the question was about causation for their own child, “majority” is wrong.

Blatantly lying and hoping no one checks does appear to be the number one strategy for antivaxxers.

Poll results always remind me of this skit in UK TV show 'Yes Minister' where Sir Humphrey demonstrates how to get the opinion poll responses you want by using leading questions. Not that I'm suggesting these reputable pollsters did any such thing, of course...

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

Actually 'Yes Prime Minister' in case anyone cares.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Argumentum ad celebritium? My apologies to our resident Latin scholars. Seriously? This is an argument for the 'vaccine induced autism' nonsense? Then again it's J.B. Handley; incoherent, nonsensical groupings of words just flop out.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ Ren:

My dearest Ren, as you know we REALLY shouldn't diagnose someone over the net... and I won't. but
I think it's alright to look at how he behaves in ways that depart from the average in comparison to others of his age, education and social status, based on his writing and public displays.

I would agree that he has difficulty in interpretting others' comments and motivations IN GENERAL- we see this all over his writings: he attributes all sorts of things to people he doesn't know; he imagines baroque plots amongst groups of individuals he has never met based on the flimsiest possibities of associations imaginable.

The writer, Stephen King, once remarked (paraphrase): " If we both drove past an ancient, decrepit farm house, you might ask about who lived there, what its history was, how old it was- but I would automatically start imagining a tale of grisly murders, corpses buried under shrubbery, secrets hidden by elderly family members reluctant to speak..."

So King has a wildly macabre imagination, a gift creating indelible images and he knows his audience well. He also understands that his creations are fantasies that sell books because they engage OTHER people's imaginations.

Jake is entirely different- he might have trouble with the line of demarcation- thinking doesn't make it so. I could mention other qualities of his writing but I think I'll hold off for the time being. He is speaking to a highly specialised group of people- not just those who believe that vaccines cause autism but those who believe vaccines cause autism VIA MERCURY AND WHO ARE ANGRY WITH AoA.: a much smaller group.

When I "conversed" with Jake, I asked him whether his views might damage his career prospects- he said so be it ( paraphrase).
Now would the average grad student feel this way? Usually, everything they do is bent towards that end.

When questioning SBM speakers ( Orac, Drs Offit, Godlee etc), he took on the role of an inquisator - perhaps a brash young reporter questioning a high level malfeasant- which seems, to my eye at least, more founded in cinema-lore than in reality.

To me, problems with executive functioning might be suspected- he can't evaluate his own work or its relation to the real world well,; he can't seem to assess situations ( or persons) in a GLOBAL way; he doesn't understand how other people might vary from his own views based on their own educations ( e.g. those esteemed doctors above).

He also uses a declaratory style that reminds me of someone ( a writer I didn't like) but can't recall now... speaking *ex cathedra* as it were.

I could go on but I must prepare for my short excursion...
I think others can find characteristics they find er..*outstanding*..
Question: now with two websites to occupy him, where's room for the degree?,

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

"You are the Sith Lord of vaccines. If you do not take issue with my interpretation, I will know I am correct."

No, I am not! Only the Sith deal in absolutes, like, "Vaccines are absolute evil and God hates you for them."

On the other hand, anti-vaccine cranks and Sith lords are my specialty.


I couldn't have put it better myself.

Question: now with two websites to occupy him, where’s room for the degree?

Well, I believe his biggest problem, having just one website, where his brain droppings are unfiltered, is that he's going to say something that will land him in civil court. I guess with two sites, it will double the chances.

As you note, he does seem to have trouble knowing where the line is, and without moderation, I'd suspect inside of a year or two he'll find himself facing a valid lawsuit. Good thing mommy and daddy have deep pockets, because he's going to need them.

@Matt -

"Will of God" got 46.4%

Wow. That's profoundly depressing.

Good feature article in the Wall St. Journal today reviewing the resurgence of disease in the UK after the Wakefield-inspired MMR scare (warning - there's a photo of Wakefield, for those with sensitive stomachs).


Nothing terribly new - but it's a good example of the change in perspective of major media covering vaccine issues. That an outlet like the WSJ with its underlying suspicions about government-promoted activities and "alternative" views about mainstream scientific consensus should strongly affirm the importance of immunization, says a lot about how far and fast the influence of antivaxers has fallen.

Noteworthy are the WSJ's "jabs" at the South Wales Evening Post, whose sensationlist articles helped spur MMR rejection in the region, leading to measles resurgence.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

DB @44, unfortunately that matches with the anti-pharma rhetoric. Of course the WSJ is going to take the side of the big corporations, they'll say.

OMG. I haven't bothered to read anything our Valiant Young Reporter has written previously, but I was curious about the NYT piece. So someone is a Pharma Shill because his brother works for a company that may supply equipment to a company makes vaccines??? That doesn't even make any sense in a normal world (or as normal a world as we live in).

@Jake (not that you ever read or comment what I post): You may want to look up the definition of "financial interest". Just being paid by a company for your job you are hired for does not mean you have a financial interest in the company.

For my employer, all staff MUST complete a financial interest statement annually. Every year I honestly informed them of a potential conflict (my ex worked for a hospital). Every year I was contacted by our Compliance area to verify that I had no contact with any area where that conflict might be an issue (i.e. hospital contracts, purchasing, etc). Every year I was cleared as I had NO TRUE CONFLICT. Simply having him work there and Ime work here was not a conflict. As long as MY work would have no effect on HIS work or HIS employer, there was no conflict.

Now, Jake. Grow up, learn to use words properly, and develop some real knowledge about the world.

MI Dawn: you don't understand. The Pharma Shill gambit works by the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon system. Conversely, just because a brave maverick doctor hawks supplements and/or unproven treatments just means they are Fighting the System, and is nowhere near a COI.

By Jake's logic, I am the POTUS's Right-Hand Man.

Although I'm Canadian, my daughters went to camp last summer with a boy who goes to the same school as Barack Obama's daughters. There ya go!

Actually TBruce, I did the full 6 degree thing a while ago, and by Jake's logic I currently control 22 countries world-wide (the full G20 and a few stragglers).

It might be more, but those are the ones I looked at.

TBruce: "Although I’m Canadian, my daughters went to camp last summer with a boy who goes to the same school as Barack Obama’s daughters. There ya go!"

The uncle of one of my daughter's friends went to school with Barack Obama himself. Her mother went to the same school, but a few years before.

Also, one of my neighbors, whose kids were classmates of my two younger kids, is a brother of an actress who worked with Kevin Bacon, so I am only a couple of degrees of separation there!

Then my matron of honor (the woman who prompted me to go a date with my hubby because did not want to go out with him), is a cousin of a former governor of this state, and now an ambassador to a large country. Never mind that they are both from a large family and it is hard to not run into a family member (I also worked in the same office as another cousin!).

We could go on and on and on and on... which shows how silly the "Six Degrees of Separation" bit is.

@LurkeyLoo #51:

That is shameful what Gordon just did. I hope he gets sanctioned by the State of California Medical Board.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

This is the problem when one lives in an echo chamber and only their own ideals and beliefs are ever tossed around and between the other inhabitants of the chamber: you begin to believe that your voices in that echo chamber are so loud because you are the majority voice. I don't know all autism parents by any stretch, but of those that I do know, personally and technically (social media, etc.) in my experience, the vast majority are pro-vaccine, many actively so, like I am, and don't believe at all that vaccines had in any way contributed to their child's autism. Typically, when I run across those autism parents who are anti-vaccine and believe vaccines destroyed their children, they are the same people on every blog, every site, every article. But I can't say that I see the same nyms from pro-vaccine autism parents spread out over the blogosphere like that, only anti-vaccine ones. That furthers in my experience that the vast majority of autism parents do not blame vaccines, and the vast majority of parents are also very much into the neurodiversity movement. Acceptance, advocacy, encouragement, etc, rather then treating their child like a broken doll who doesn't understand anything. If AoA stopped moderating and censoring all comments that went against their beliefs, they might realize how small their numbers really are.

By Lara Lohne (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

Denise Walter @#39
I was under the impression that Jake Crosby had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and that is why he was so readily embraced by AoA, he became their poster child until he 'went off the deep end' so to speak. Based on things he seems to believe, is it possible that he may also have schizotypal personality disorder? The traits, as I understand them, seem to mirror what he displays.

By Lara Lohne (not verified) on 20 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ Lurkey Loo: Thanks for the heads up about the measles case in Ventura County. How odd, that Dr. Jay was posting here and never gave us a clue that he gave an interview to the local CBS station. Yeah Dr. Jay is still full of it...and still a publicity whore. Dr. Chris and I have already posted on that blog:


Lara @54: Yes, Jake Crosby does have Asperger's. As have I and a number of other regulars on this blog; I think we'd all appreciate it if you didn't throw around terms like "schizotypal personality disorder" in connection with ASD.
Also, everybody - PLEASE stop diagnosing people over the internet!

Didn't Dr. Gordon recently assert in comments on this blog that if he were practicing in Wales, where there is a current measles outbreak, he would vaccinate for it?

Why, yes, yes he did:

If I were practicing in Wales right now, I would recommend the MMR vaccine.

But he doesn't recommend it when the outbreak is in Ventura County.

I have long suspected that Dr. Gordon is rabidly antivaccine, but tries to cover it up by agreeing that vaccines are okay for all those other people, the farther away the better.

I'd hate to have to watch "The View" to find out, but maybe Jenny will shut the hell up about vaccines, and instead tell the viewers her thoughts on the need for anus bleaching, and the best ways to do that. Just google it, and Jenny's name will pop right up.

Re Jake: I'm sure we'll be reading about>/b> him in the newspapers someday soon. (Probably be on trial for something.)

@ Lara Lohne:

I agree that Jake DOES has characteristics that might be seen as 'problematic' but we shouldn't try to diagnose him or anyone else over the internet. We don't know them or how they act in RL. Internet communication is highly specific and a biased source of information.
It's different to observe how people
behave or write that set them apart from other people there:
e.g. Alice is very throrough; Bill writes well; Carl provokes others then runs away; Diane links to Whale.to etc.

Jake is something of a special case because his diagnosis is part of his tale ( as posted @ AoA). Yes, it is possible that people with ASDs or LDs can have co-morbid mental illness ( or not)- just like people without ASDs or LDs can have them ( or not) as well.

A sceptic/ psychologist writes about his encounters with hiv/aids denialists and believes one of them ( at least) to have NPD: what's different in that situation is that he actually hung around with these people and observed them closely, as well as reading their material and knowing about their actions in the real world- still, he cautiously suggest that condition as a possibility.

Looking at Jake from our vantage point we know about his tracking of scientists and journalists, his spats with his friends at AoA, how he "investigates" people- so we can surmise things about him wherein he varies from the average person his age, level of education and social status through his own reportage.

I knew/ know many grad students but none like Jake.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

Thanks for jumping in on the LA CBS web site, lilady.

Of note, I can't find Gordo mugging on any other media outlets (NBC, ABC, Fox, LA Times or OC Register), which is good news. Of note, ABC and Fox haven't put the measles outbreak on their websites yet, but the NBC web site ( http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international/European-Touri… ) notes:

A European tourist is confirmed to have the disease, the Ventura County Public Health Care Agency said Friday. Another tourist, also from Europe, is suspected of having the disease.

I do wish we had a feasible rapid test for measles for folks clearing customs.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

Of course Jay knows he's treading on thin ice by recommending obviously harmful things, hence the big bucket of weasel words in all of these statements: "I think", "I think", "not 100% certain", "I think".

Disgusting. And somewhat ironic from the muppet who is so big about standing behind opinions.

The CBS-LA story is weirdly done, and symptomatic of rolodex journalism. There are more than a thousand pediatricians in the Los Angeles area serving a population of around ten million people. There are 2 major medical schools in the city, plus 2 more down the coast a bit. Every one of those medical schools features in a TV news item at some point during the average year. So why, when the subject marginally involved the idea of vaccination, did the producer of this TV segment dig up Jay Gordon? It's worth a call to CBS, although I don't know how effective this might be. Perhaps a rational caller can inspire the local station to review and revise its approach to communicable disease prevention.

That having been said, I don't think the back and forth between the anti-vaccine people and the RI people on that CBS site was all that useful, since it reads as a lot of infighting over technical issues and, worse yet, personal attacks. Writing a comment and signing your name is not spamming in the usual sense of the term, and the naive reader will find the comment about spamming the site baffling. Better to address comments to the general public, pointing out that the anti-vaccine commenters represent a small group of people with extremist ideas, who would have banned polio and smallbox vaccination given the chance, and who even have problems with the idea of giving tetanus shots. Directing comments to them directly does not, I think, communicate the weakness of their positions to the general public. Quoting some of their unwise positions directly would be a much more effective rhetorical approach.

By the way, it was good to see the retort to the racist remarks that showed up in one of the comments. Perhaps the active commenters here will also jump in when one of their own makes another slighting remark about the African origins of a National Health doctor that she didn't happen to like. Just sayin'.

I added my English tuppence to the LA CBS comments. I find it too depressing to add any more.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

Gee Bob G. Have you in fact, read all the comments? I was offline for a few hours and now have posted some additional comments.

Do You think it is beneath you to reply to the racist who claimed that "wetb@ck border jumpers" are responsible for measles outbreaks? I don't.

Why do you think we should permit the Dachel bot and her cronies should drive the debate?

Great post Orac! I made sure to get this one out to all my new agey family members (who incidentally all seem watch The View.)

Also this is one of your funniest posts ever. If being a surgeon doesn't work out you can always write jokes :)

Have a nice evening, everyone.

By DavidRLogan (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

There was news reports a few days ago of two confirmed cases of measles in the Seattle area, and along with it a detailed listing of the places and times the infected individuals had been for the period of time they were thought to be contagious. I made sure to share that with my Facebook friends because I have many friends and family in the Seattle area.

By Lara Lohne (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ lilady, I think you may have misread Bob G.'s comment. He is merely opining that the comments look more like a poo-flinging competition and suggesting that it would be more helpful to point out the flaws and inaccuracies in the anti-vaxxers claims. He also stated that he was glad to see racist remarks addressed but that that also applies to pro-vaxxers.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

ok, 4 points:
1 - Charlie Sheen? Seriously? He's an authority?
2 - Out of curiosity, where does AoA get their money? And if it's donations, are their expenses etc made public?
3 - I'm with Shay - where's my money?
4 - Charlie Sheen?

There are two confirmed cases of measles in Illinois this week, brought back from Poland If I remember correctly.

And one of the carriers (if that's the appropriate term) attended a Chicago Fire game after his/her return.

Yeah, new information says the two measles cases in Seattle were brought from elsewhere. They were two siblings, an adult and a child, that were visiting the state and brought measles with them from wherever they were from.

By Lara Lohne (not verified) on 21 Jul 2013 #permalink

Abusive racist trolling on public internet sites seems to be endemic. I have noticed that the Yahoo site attracts an enormous number of really vicious ethnic attacks. A lot of them are aimed at Obama, and a lot are aimed at different minority groups. To me, the only surprising thing about the CBS troll attack was that it was a one-off. You are certainly entitled to point out that the post was racist, but I hardly think that the person who posted it needed to be told this by any of us. Shocking and angering people was, of course, the point of doing it. I don't have a magical answer to dealing with racist troll attacks. I think that ignoring them is sometimes the best strategy, but I would never criticize anyone for taking the time to offer up a reply. My ever-so-subtle remark pointed out ever-so-subtly that I've seen some really nasty stuff coming from regular commenters here, and at least one item was clearly racist but did not seem to provoke any responses from the other regulars.

Re: The back and forth in the CBS news comment section:

Let's imagine for a moment that there were a few people who don't read RI or the anti-vaccine sites, but who somehow got to the bottom of the web page and decided to read some of the comments. Allow me to suggest that your standard variety naive reader would be unlikely to follow most any of the comments, particularly after the flame war had really gotten going. It was, to use a term a friend of mine taught me, all "inside baseball." In other words, it was a lot of insider jargon about specialist topics. Once the two sides got to calling each other by their names, it became obvious that this was something akin to a long running feud. The only thing that was missing was the moonshine still and the county sheriff in pursuit.

I would suggest that there is a better way to engage in public forums like the CBS page. Here's a hint that I learned a long time ago that is useful when you want to introduce the general public to a technical discussion -- give an introduction that is complete enough to introduce the subject, but as short as you can make it. Something like this -- There is a highly vocal, small group of people who have made it their life's work to attack the safety and effectiveness of vaccination. They are wrong in their facts and wrong in their logic. There are thousands of doctors and scientists who have studied the safety of vaccines very carefully, and who are convinced that they work and are safe. The anti-vaccine people are truly cranks, and you can often recognize them for what they are because they accuse real scientists of being in the pay of drug companies. They often use the term "pharma" as their special code word to signify this argument. What they are saying, however ludicrous you may find it, is that the whole world is full of nothing but people who will say anything and falsify anything in order to be paid by some big corporation. We certainly recognize that such people do exist, but we would also like to point out that there are lots of other people who do good science, act honorably, and have concluded that vaccines are safe and effective.

Bob G. I am constrained by the program used for the comments section; two of my comments disappeared into cyberspace because I provided links.

Instead of making suggestions for posting, which are, IMO, good suggestions, why don't you post some comments?

The "standard variety naive reader" will (as described by Bob G.) will never read postings/comments having to do with any controversial issue if a hint of discord is enough to drive them away.

Reasonably intelligent people with a degree of tolerance for spicy discussion are capable of disregarding "tone" and responding to factual arguments.

Regardless of the efforts of antivax tone trolls (I am not suggesting Bob is one), it should be quickly obvious that no "side" in the debate over immunization has a monopoly on civil discourse, which naturally should lead one to consider who is basing their opinions on evidence and who is not.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 22 Jul 2013 #permalink

Part II of Ken Stoller, M.D.'s "guest editorial" column is now posted on Bolen's blog:


Stoller discusses the *"Varacella Virus" (sic)...which he identifies as **"HHV-6" and its implication, according to Stoller, in the onset of multiple sclerosis.

"Once again I will illustrate this by taking about an illness I am familiar with, I will use the case of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - a disease caused by (in the vast majority of cases) the Epstein Barr Virus , Varacella Virus or HHV-6[2], and they cause “multiple scars” in the brain if you are so unfortunate to have them get into your brain, because that is what MS actually means…. multiple scars in the brain. Yet that tells us nothing about how the scars got there or how to treat them. MS is actually chronic viral encephalitis, and the medical literature is replete with evidence showing that to be the case, but your physician[3] doesn’t know that even though there is more than enough evidence to make the case for these viruses to be implicated as the cause of MS..."

Memo to Stoller:

*Do you mean Varicella virus?

**Varicella virus is HHV-3, not HHV-6


There's more anti-vax nonsense at AoA ( I know, I know, that's like saying the ocean is wet) but physiological speculator, Teresa Conrick, discusses maternal flu vaccines and Alison MacNeil chimes in about her medical advisor ( over at her new site, Nurture Parenting), Kelly Brogan.

In other (non) news, TMR talks about anxiety and how to deal with it sans medecins**.

**Not the same as *Medecins sans Frontieres*

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2013 #permalink

Well, my alter ego Artoo45 got into an interaction with the terribly dramatic and sooper serious Victor Pavlovich over at CBS. They really have no sense of humor whatsoever, which makes them even funnier.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 22 Jul 2013 #permalink

I left another comment on CBS Radio blog:


"I have a suggestion. Why doesn't CBS Radio contact Dr. Jay Gordon for a clarification of his statements about the MMR vaccine? When a reporter contacts Dr. Gordon, ask him why he pulled down his "Links" section on his website, two days ago, when it was pointed out to him that he had "Links" to every crank anti-vaccine, anti-science blog for each of the vaccines on the CDC Childhood Vaccine Schedule."

@ Pareidolius: Pavlovic is good for laughs...nothing else. :-)

I'm baffled that anyone would cite the beliefs of Charlie Sheen as an argument for their position, on any topic. I mean, more baffled than I usually am by celebrities-as-experts and antivax campaigns.

I'd suggest that CBS Radio simply ask Dr. Jay to provide actual evidence demonstrating the need to revise the current vaccine schedule, and supporting his claim that giving "too many vaccines to children too early in life" is harmful or (more accurately) engenders greater risk than continuing to remain vulnerable to infection to the diseases they portect against.

@Bob G - the "Don't feed the Troll" technique does not work. It's just another silencing tactic. Here's an interesting take on it:


Not only that, but not calling out racist/sexist/ableist/homophobic/transphobic/xenophobic/classiest bull$hit gives the impression that such behaviour is fine, not harmful, and that it's a perfectly civilised way to conduct conversation.

The only way to stamp out oppression is to go for the leaves, branches, stalks and roots. Expose it all for what it is, trusting that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Ignoring it, pretending it isn't there, is like hoping that lump you found under your arm will go away, it's like putting missed periods and a growing belly down to "stress". The ignored things grow and become stronger in the darkness, hidden and unchallenged.

Ending oppression should be a societal effort, not something left to the oppressed. Sadly there are too many people who view social equality as a zero-sum game, and believe that if marginalised people are given full rights and privileges, that the already privileged will somehow lose out. A commonly made statement (in plaintive whines) is that "if gay people are given the right to marry, then the institution of marriage will be ruined". I've even heard particularly douchebaggy homophobes claim that it would somehow render their marriage invalid.

If you see bigotry then call it out. If you want a certain point to be made in a certain manner on another site then make it yourself. Don't come back here and tone troll if the issue is over there

Also, remember that RI isn't some global commenting taskforce. Some of us can't post on other sites for technical//personal/time reasons. So again, if there's something on another site's commenting section that's not being done, then just do it! Give them the benefit of your knowledge and wisdom.

I'd suggest CBS Radio instead ask Dr. Jay for actual evidence that the current immunization schedule needs revision, and that "[giving] too many vaccines to children too early in life" is harmful (or more accurately, that the current vaccination schedule engenders a greater risk than reamining vulnerable to infection for an extended period of time.)

Ugh, "classiest" should be "classist". My phone is clearly fascist. It hates the proletariat, a hard reset should fix all that!

@ elburto:

I might venture a guess that the "Don't feed the trolls" meme might have been influenced by classical learning wherein *that which is reinforced* is more likely to happen.- regardless of whether it is intended as negative or not.

Thus scolding a child who behaves badly might be perceived by said child as 'attention" therefore leading to increased resultant awfulness occuring.
I would also question if we should allow badness to continue un-noticed, even then. Be that as it may....

So of course, call out the racism/ sexism/ etc.
Remember we have lurkers.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Denice 're #12 - rave only as in the sense of stark raving loony, fun to laugh at, but not much fun in terms of public health

OK, Elburto. You were the one who made the point about the African origin of a doctor you didn't like. This is recognized as racism over on this side of the Atlantic, even if you thought the remark was just fine.

I think there are some useful remarks on this site, but there certainly are a lot of self-righteous, patronizing remarks too. If some of you didn't catch my drift earlier, I was pointing out that the back and forth with the anti-vaccine people was not an effective way of reaching the average readers. I was not attacking the goal or intent, just the execution.

Seriously, CHARLIE SHEEN? Even his most rabid fans consider him a monumental joke and most people consider him an idiot. And trying to portray Donald Trump as some sort of sympathetic figure is really not doing anything useful for their cause.

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 22 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Bob G: Just waded through a lot of the comments on the CBS story. Can I just say, lilady and Lara Loehne, you have way more intestinal fortitude than I do.

The way I see it is this: lilady started the commentary with a perfectly valid call for Dr Jay to provide some more evidence.

We then a supposed "safe vax" proponent insisting that she had all the vax-preventable diseases and is fine.

Lara Loehne then righly called out the "safe-vaxxer", pointing out that she and her family members have also had brushes with vaccination preventable diseases and are not fine. Furthermore, Lara in other comments highlighted her own experiences as the parent of an autistic child.

Maybe lilady and Lara did get a bit heavy in some of their comments. But rather than constantly shifting the argument they constantly pointed out the dangers of vaccine preventable disease and the fact that there's no known link between vaccinations and autism.

It might be a bit childish, but if the comments devolved into poo-flinging, they started it!

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 22 Jul 2013 #permalink

#80 Jubilee

Well, Charlie Sheen would be an expert on cocaine. So there's that.

Bob G. is big on suggestions about what I could've, should've, didn't comment on...yet he did not put himself "out there". The heavy lifting on that blog was done by Lara, Dr. Chris Hickie and me, without the ability to link to reliable websites and the numerous studies that show no link between vaccines and autism.

It's curious how my words are so misread and misrepresented, considering how simple and direct they are. I was not arguing the morality of your position, nor the righteousness of your cause. I was only calling into question the effectiveness of the approach. Let me borrow from Isaac Asimov, who was told by a friend of his, "Sorry, but I didn't understand your article." Asimov's reply was that he was the one who should be sorry, because the failure to communicate is the author's failure, not the reader's.

My view, coming from ground zero of the anti-vaccine debate, is that very few people in the Los Angeles area have ever heard of Jay Gordon, that very few people in the Los Angeles area are aware of the existence of the Age of Autism site, and pretty close to nobody other than healthcare professionals and neurogeneticists know anything about the actual etiology of autism. The arguments over the validity of this or that study are "inside baseball," depending as they must on knowledgeable critiques of research design and statistical inference. I suppose it's possible that a dozen people who don't read RI or AOA looked at the comments section on CBS and tried to follow. If that were the case, then perhaps we could have explained to them the basics rather than get right into the name calling. In other words, it's not what you and I think, but how to convince the lay public that they are being lied to by people who have a lot of practice at it.

I've worked with several editors over the years and have published just under 200 columns totaling about 300,000 words -- a few in daily newspapers and the remainder on the internet. I've had most of my submissions accepted (not all, for sure), but if I had ever told an editor, "You are wrong to criticize my work because my heart is pure, I worked hard on this, and I'm on the side of truth and righteousness," what do you think the response would have been? I think I can guess -- it would have been something like this: "All very nice, but it's up to you to communicate to the reader adequately." Or the editor might have told me what any normal editor would say about a response like that.

This having been said, I do have a couple of thoughts. The first is that Dr Hickie handled the arguments well, wrote convincingly, and obviously stung the opposition. The nasty replies from the anti-vaccination person are evidence of that.

The major point that somebody should make, however, is the incredible lack of journalistic effort made by CBS News on this story. That is something worth pursuing, as it comes across as pretty close to journalistic malpractice. It can't even be dismissed as the result of hurrying. They somehow got a news team up to Ventura (60 miles north), they made time to interview a parent (how did they find that guy?) , and then they went to see Dr Gordon -- apparently in his office. If that is the case, then they had to send a news van over to Santa Monica, which is a substantial trip on very clogged streets. Somebody decided to spend a lot of money and a lot of human hours on this story in order to fill up those 2 minutes, and they seem to have missed the real story completely.

I wonder why some assistant sub-producer didn't just pick up the phone and call the chair of pediatrics at UCLA or USC, and get a responsible answer. Perhaps the reason is that there would have been no excitement to the story, no dramatic tension, and no new scare for the public. All of this bears a little investigation. The most useful outcome would be some internal review at CBS about the way they mishandle science news.

And as for me, I was a little busy doing a piece of my own which ultimately came to 2600 words and has gone up on a local website. By the day after tomorrow, it will have been clicked by a few more than a hundred thousand readers -- not in Orac territory, but it's nice to have a readership of any sort. When I got that done, I started setting up an experiment which involves transfecting induced pluripotent stem cells. Sometimes you have to pick and choose.

One additional comment: This site does not provide for private messaging between commenters, something that is the case in other systems. It might have been useful this time around.

"It’s curious how my words are so misread and misrepresented, considering how simple and direct they are."

It's curious Bob G,. that some of your other posts on other threads here are "so misread and misrepresented, considering how simple and direct they are."

You're a newbie here, yet you managed to alienate others here by your referring to autistic kids and adults as "brain damaged", your treatise on the use of "lurker/lurking", how we ask for "citations" and your remarks about LGBT people. You've set yourself up as the arbiter of what is the "proper" method of posting comments here on RI and other blogs.

I am underwhelmed with your knowledge of the anti-vaccine, anti-science movement and how you are totally unaware how the Dachel bot alerts her flying monkey squad to spam each and every article in mainstream media, local media and science blogs.

Stop your bloviating and bragging about your journalistic skills...I am not impressed.

What do Dr. Bernadine Healy, Don Imus, Donald Trump, Doug Flutie, Gary Cole, Ed Asner, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peet, Deirdre Imus, Bob Wright, Aidan Quinn, Andrew Wakefield, and Jenny McCarthy all have in common?

Wow - how the mighty have fallen. Andrew Wakefield limps in after Trump, Asner & Sheen as an authority?

He has gained an unexpected compensation for his fall for academic grace though.......................... he beats all 3 in the list for comedic value.

Bob G #87

OK, Elburto. You were the one who made the point about the African origin of a doctor you didn’t like. This is recognized as racism over on this side of the Atlantic, even if you thought the remark was just fine.

Where is this allegedly racist comment? This is a serious accusation and I find it very hard to believe of elburto, so I want to read this comment and judge for myself.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

Bob G-

As a pediatrician who started my own practice 9 years ago, I keep seeing more and more parents (esp new parents) come to my practice wanting to delay/skip vaccines. I do truly believe that a lot of this derives from what Dr. Gordon and Dr. Robert Sears (of the Sears family also in the LA area) have written, said and sold openly that, without any science/research to back them, tell parents that it's ok to skip/delay vaccines and that the diseases vaccines protect against aren't all that serious anyhow (which of course is wrong). There is published research in this last decade showing that the "alternate vaccine schedules" of Sears/Gordon are responsible (as well as the fact that Sears/Gordon are media hounds and will not pass up any opportunity online, on TV, on radio or in print to spread their lies. I've documented this rather well at www.stopsearsandgordon.org if you'd like more information.

That one of the local news stations knew where to to go find Gordon was no accident. Gordon is more well known than you give him credit for as he will do whatever it takes to mug with the celebrity crowd in LA, including sacrificing all his professional integrity.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

I also would like to know where this supposed racist comment is. I have no recollection of seeing it.

Dr. Chris: I took on Dr. Bob Sears at the Ho-Po, where I confronted him about his deliberately unvaccinated patient, who was identified as the "index patient" responsible for the large measles outbreak in San Diego, 2008.

*Some of us* are willing to don hip waders to debate these quack publicity-seeking pediatricians.


Chris Hickie

Gordon is more well known than you give him credit for as he will do whatever it takes to mug with the celebrity crowd in LA, including sacrificing all his professional integrity.

That is definitely a small sacrifice, possibly homeopathic.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

Unfortunately, in some circles, including local media outlets, Jay Gordon has positioned himself as the "go-to-guy" for comments about vaccines and vaccine-preventable-disease outbreaks.

Cripes, Jay is plain stooopid, when he had one of the parent of his patient make that comment about not getting a MMR shot for a four-month-old infant.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., the lovely and science literate "Autismum" is the "go-to-gal" for the media to comment on vaccines...displacing the JABS loonies.

While I rarely comment on any article, I am definitely a long time lurker on RI and the other blog, and would consider myself to be fairly knowledgable on the anti-vaccine movement. That said, the amount of bickering in the comment section here is getting a bit annoying. Bob G had some valid points about responding to trolls, especially those that pop up on major network websites like CBS/CNN ,et cetera. Elburto may not have agreed with the comment, but at least provided a reason why she engages such trolls. Lilady, you seem to just be defensive when it comes to any sort of criticism. It doesn't seem Bob G was trying to impress any of us with his journalistic skills, but merely providing grounds for his argument. I would argue that doing so is understandable and no less worthy as your numerous posts along the lines of "look at the comment I posted on this website…"

@93 - lilady - don't forget that Bob doesn't believe that ableism is a real thing, that the civil rights of disabled people don't matter compared to people in other marginalised populations.

Funny how it's always everyone else misunderstanding poor Bob, we're just not bright enough to get the gist of his points, not alert enough to parse the meaning from his tl;dr screeds.

The entirety of my horrific racism:

There was the Nigerian locum tenens who accused me of faking my MRIs

Bob - I mentioned the locum before, the Nigerian Christian (with a big 'C') fundamentalist who told me that my "type" needed salvation, not medication.

Identifying his race isn't racist, attributing my annoyance and upset (an official complaint was filed with the PCT against the sexist, homophobic ba$tard). Tell me, Crusader Bob, are you fighting the good fight in real life, or just against women on the internet who call you out on your arrogant, ableist toxic crap?

Are you protesting Zimmerman's acquittal, fighting for the authorities to admit that the 'War on Drugs' is the new Jim Crow? Are you campaigning against school districts that have autistic or mentally ill children of colour written up for infractions so that they're sent to juvenile hall, while the white kids get therapy and special ed?

Oh scratch that last one, because. first - Bob comes from a land where racism is not tolerated, and second - Bob thinks that "lurker" is a slur. but that it is offensive to compare the struggles faced by disabled and non-neurotypical people trying to access their full civil rights while also dealing with personal and institutional ableism, with the struggles of POC or LGBT people.

Preach it Brother Bob. Write off the 50 deaths per week of disabled Britons denied disability benefits. Fugeddabout about the hundreds of kids like Alex Spourdalakis (?sp) who are murdered by their "carers" each year. Carers who are never sentenced to prison because having to have a disabled person in their lives means they've "suffered enough".

Activism's hard. Far better for the able-bodied neurotypical white man to snipe at women online, attempting to silence people who dare to "feed the trolls", coming here to RI to tell people what to say and how to say it all over the bloody internet, mansplaining like a champ about how if us overemotional hysterical wimmins were just nicer to the people with the loaded guns, they'd take us more seriously! If only we tugged our forelocks more and begged "Please stop endangering our lives, and the lives of anyone who's vulnerable" then they'd see sense and immunise, STAT!

And all the tone-trolling while he's sitting on his hands (for a change) instead of joining the debate himself because he's better. than. that.

Tell ya what Bub - I'll never mention the word "Nigerian" ever again if you stop tone-trolling, mansplaining, using ableist rhetoric like it was going out of fashion, and if you realise that the common denominator in all of these arguments is YOU.

BTW Bub, not sure how I ended up in your original call for the whaaambulance, because I only ever comment here, at SBM, Autismum, and occasionally at Josephine Jones' site. That's it. So your grudge-stains are really showing if you're trying to implicate me in whatever behaviour you don't approve of , on whatever site. Is it really so hard for you to believe that your power to piss people off extends beyond my huuuge zone of influence? I'm not omniscient, yet.

In case it gets lost in my big rant, Bob accused me of racism because I "didn't like" the [nationality redacted] fundamentalist locum who did the following to me:

Told me that only Jesus could save( me from my homosexuality.

Told me a priest was more appropriate for me than a doctor.

Accused me of using "influence" to fake the MRI scans that showed the swelling in my brain.

Refused to refill my prescription for the pill because he "[didn't] believe in it"., said I'd never had a repeat prescription for it (i had, for two years) and said that I'd "manufactured" the pack that was in my pocket, that had the pharmacy label on it.

So you're damn fuvking Skippy I "didn't like" him Bub, because he traumatised me to the point that I was scared to seek medical help, and became seriously ill as a result.

Also, in your beknighted Home across the Pond, Bub, where racism is but a distant memory and people of all races live in joyful harmony, you'll be unaware of the problems here in not-America. Nigerian doctors are being struck off the GMC registers at the second highest rate of any nationality, precisely because of treatment like that dished out to me.

I'm not intolerant of anything except seeking urgent medical advice and being told that I need spiritual guidance instead. There's a growing problem here with Nigerian churches telling HIV/AIDS and cancer patients that they can be cured with prayer and holy water if they repent of their sins, of church-affiliated doctors steering patients away from medication, patients who then die after giving their money to the church.

But naw, must just be me and my evil racist ways. that I brainwashed the witness to my "consultation" to see what she saw. I actually really liked Doctor E, he was very sweet and kind to me, until he found out I was gay. That's why I was so shocked and hurt because of the constant realisation that bigots aren't obviously monstrous people but appear to be kind, nice, funny, educated people - until the mask slips. Marginalised people have to be reminded me that over and over again, especially if you're not visibly recognisable as being from a minority group.

The doctor that I "didn't like" was dealt with after other patients complained. I got an official apology from the trust, but there's now only one GP G feel safe with. If he leaves then I'm done for.

I wonder if But has ever been dehumanised. and humiliated because of his membership of a minority group... felt that fear upon meeting new people, that they'll call him "brain damaged" or "sick pervert" because of an involuntary characteristic. I wonder.

@ Lilady, #98--thank you so much for all your help online. You most definitely know how to punch giant rational holes in Drs JayBob and their lies, and I hope none of my prior posts in any way imply that I'm not aware there aren't a lot of us out there doing this--I'm just wishing there were more pediatricians in the mix.

My objective is, as a pediatrician, to rally other pediatrician for open denouncement of Gordon/Sears, as I fear-- given the rather large groupie following of "thinking mom's" (whatever the heck that is--since by all indications, they simply believe what they are told online without actually thinking) Gordon/Sears have accumulated--that only an at-large calling out by a group like the AAP or CDC or AAFP will do any effective blunting of JayBob's fake credibility. Us going after JayBob individually just doesn't get the word out well enough (though it can be good sport if you get them riled and trapped in their own stupidity). I do believe we are on the cusp of some much more serious vaccine preventable disease outbreaks in the next several years unless something stems the rising tide of unjustified vaccine hesitancy in the US (as is happening in the UK with measles)

I don't live in LA, but I am disappointed that there doesn't appear to be any sort of pediatric backlash against what Gordon said on TV the other day. I wrote the California chapter of the AAP with the link to Gordon's comments, asking them to do something--but, of course, just like AAP national headquarters, there is no response (and likely none will come). Honestly, I am trying to understand why it is harder than I thought to rally pediatricians against these two louts. I don't know if it's just because pediatricians tend to be nicer folk, but I'd like to think that means they can still show some clearly justified anger at these two.

Finally, I mistyped Gordon's name above as "Gorn" and then remembered what a "Gorn" is (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorn_(Star_Trek))--"a humanoid reptile". I think Gorn fits well, as in Dr. Jay Gorn, MD, FAAP.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink


You're gay?

It may seem like I'm joking, but it points to what I see is the problem bubbling up here. The problem, as I see it, is that very few of us know each other personally or know about each other enough to make accurate assessments of who (or what) we are.

For example, I know Lilady because we comment on similar blogs, and she even pops in on mine once in a while to give me her opinion. I know she is a public health nurse (even if retired, you never really do retire), and that she lost a son who had a neurological condition.

I know who Orac is because it only takes a few seconds of Googling to know his real identity. (Yet, "outing" him was supposed to be some major accomplishment by the anti-vaccine cranks.) I've corresponded with him, and I've come to admire and respect his opinion on all things medical.

Chris Hickie is a heck of a pediatrician.

And so on, and so forth.

What I've noticed on this thread are misunderstandings on a personal level as to who is what and why and how. I could be wrong, but there are some inferences being drawn about people without knowing fully where they're coming from. So many things that ElBurto has written over time have become clear knowing now about their experiences a little more.

@ eNOS: If you lurk here then you must be aware of Bob G's debut comments about autistics being "brain damaged". Other commenters here took him to task for that crass insensitive remark that is not only political incorrect, but scientifically incorrect as well. I tried to explain to Bob that "brain damaged" infers that infants were born "perfectly" neuro-typical and that "something" caused that brain damage...a favorite trope of the anti-vaxxers and their targeting of vaccines being the cause of their kids' "brain damage". I further explained to Bob G. that infants who are born extremely premature or have a difficult birth associated with hypoxia are birth-related injured. My "other son" who is quite physically and intellectually impaired was SGA (small for gestational age) at 2 lbs 14 ounces and had a brain bleed at the time of his birth because he was born with zero platelets. His birth injury is a huge left hemispheric porencephalic cyst. Infants who are battered/dropped/involved in skull crushing accidents are "Traumatic Brain Injured". Bob G. claims he is part of the science community. Why isn't he aware of those conditions and why did he persist in labeling autistics as "brain damaged"?

Now we come to Elburto and Bob G's vicious attacks on her sexuality, her gender, her long term difficulties in accessing care from the NHS and her physical impairments. I refrained from entering the fray, only too aware of my ability to start a flame war on this blog. I deeply regret that decision.

You made this statement about me...

"Lilady, you seem to just be defensive when it comes to any sort of criticism. It doesn’t seem Bob G was trying to impress any of us with his journalistic skills, but merely providing grounds for his argument. I would argue that doing so is understandable and no less worthy as your numerous posts along the lines of “look at the comment I posted on this website…”

Not true and you know it, eNOS. Bob G. has taken me to task for the comments I made on one blog...while he avoids commenting on that blog and other blogs, holding back so he does soil his lily-white trousers and he doesn't "engage" the trolls from AoA. How should I and other posters here, who "engage" those trolls and the Dachel bot on the Ho-Po, on social media sites and on science blogs, that the trolls are spamming the comments section?

IIRC, I even poked fun at myself..."Cripes I'm beginning to act like the Dachel bot and her daily Media Alerts and her statements "I left a comment".

The entirety of my horrific racism:

There was the Nigerian locum tenens who accused me of faking my MRIs

Oh for Pete's sake...

"Where are my pearls, I need to clutch them!!!"

@eNOS - I have yet to see Bob G contribute anything here other than long-winded tone trolling and defensiveness, so as far as I'm concerned he's made himself fair game.

Lilady acknowledged up the thread that he'd made some good suggestions, then asked why he doesn't go and comment himself (instead of just telling other people they're doing it wrong.) He hasn't answered her question yet.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

Funny how Bob G is the one who automatically converted nationality into race.

By The Very Rever… (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Chris Hickie

You should see what they've written about my wife (a PA). Of course, I won't post it here because there is a petulant child who keeps digging for information on me.

@ Chris Hickie:

That's awful.

@ Ren:

Doubly awful since you both are targetted.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink


I'll play straight man - why did this doctor's Nigerian origin (assuming he was Nigerian and not, say, Ugandan) have to do with anything?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

Yeah, I can't proofread when I change directions on a question in the middle of the message. I meant both "why did this doctor's nationality and race deserve mention" as well as "what did this doctor's nationality and race have to do with it".

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

-btw- when I first read elburto I assumed that she was a gay man or trans. Live and learn.

On some level- beyond what others think or react- we're all really the same- if you look at embryoic development you'll learn that naughty bits undergo transformation bi-directionally from a primordial bit to more advanced and diversfied bits- occasionally a mid-point bit is encountered- and innermost proclivities and inclinations don't always match the bit. But this can be fixed.

I observe two male creatures and I sometimes wonder how *really* different they are emotionally ( except for the bits) from me- I'm probably the toughest one so I watch over them. One has been lamenting- for nearly three years- over a dead feral cat pet; the anniversary is soon approaching. The other one is always moody and worried. Stereotypes would have them as more feminine.

In actuality, we all have way too many abilities and tendencies to put into neat bundles or binary categories- which is also what makes us interesting. Some cognitive psychologists look at stereotypes as ways to decrease the informational load. Adults should be able to deal with more than one or two bits of information, no?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

Wow. I simply pointed out that the back and forth on the CBS comments section was not effective. I stand by that remark. If the small group of people forming an in-club here are that sensitive to criticism, so be it. In my country, making a gratuitous reference to race is understood for what it is. In my profession and my avocation, bad writing is bad writing. And on the internet in general, outraged self-righteous attacks on total strangers (which is what I am to you) are fairly common. As a group, you are not showing a lot of restraint, wit, or depth of understanding. That doesn't mean that I don't agree with you on most things -- I do agree that the anti-vaccine people are doing their best to make themselves dangerous. What I don't know is whether the infighting on internet discussion sites is terribly effective. For one thing, the most active commenters here point out that they get purged from the anti-vaccine sites almost immediately.

As to whether Jay Gordon is well known either in his profession or to the general public, my feeling is that he is not well known to the general public. I did a small sampling and nobody I asked had ever heard of him. I will ask a friend who was head of pulmonary pediatrics at a major hospital before his retirement, and find out what he has to say about how well known Gordon is in the profession, and whether he has a following of more than 2 other doctors. I think this would be a useful bit of information to provide to CBS.

For all I know, there may be dozens of people who read these comments, or there may be tens of thousands. I hope that at least some of them are careful readers.

However, the hypocrisy is getting awfully thick among the in crowd. You preach at the anti-vaccine people, call them crazy or refer to them as loons, make comments about their ability to reason and then -- and then -- ask them to consider the evidence carefully and with open minds. When I pointed out that the research literature demonstrates damage to the developmental pathway in autism (clearly it does), I am attacked for vocalizing a forbidden thought. Somebody didn't like the term "brain damaged" -- so OK with the lesson on sensitivity -- but show me why a wealth of research literature (some of it cited by your regulars here) is so incorrect. It's the same question you offer up to the anti-vaccine people. And when I pointed out that mental illness exists, I was attacked for "ableism." The logic is hard to follow, to say the least.

I think what's missing from the in-crowd here is a willingness to consider honest discussion, as differentiated from the obvious trolling by the anti-vaccine group. Some of you seem to be making a hobby of feeding the trolls, as the comment count shows for the more trolled threads. Greg plays you like a harp.

Allow me to offer a suggestion. Wait 24 or 48 hours before responding to me. That's all I ask. I won't be patronizing (as one or two of you have been to me) by suggesting that you reread my comments, but maybe in two days' time when you decide to let it rip on me, you will have to go back and find the bits you wish to attack. And if you all wish to make it your life's work or your hobby to chat back and forth on the comments section here, that's your privilege. But it might be nice to post the rules in advance, namely that it is forbidden to say anything, no matter how true, that one of the insiders doesn't like.

Elburto: I hear you. I've never had that happen to me yet, but I'm scared stiff of gynos because there are a lot of fundies and pervs in that specialty and I can't decide which is worse.
I already know that I have to be really careful around Catholic doctors, as they are forbidden to give life-saving treatment to female patients. I believe the same would apply to evangelicals.
And a friend of mine with really seriously Catholic parents had to leave her house after fighting tooth and nail with her parents over her treatments for depression and a neuropathy. (Note, friend is a legal adult.) I should note that that particular mess is mostly due to her parents' personal take on catholicism, not a general fault in the religion, which is fairly good on non-heroic/ non uteri medicine.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

#116 Bob, there is no mention of race in what was written by Elburto, only nationality, which is Nigerian.

I looked it up. (Yes, I had to look it up. I do not know that much about Nigeria.) Nigeria was at one point under British control, meaning that there are *probably* multiple "races" living there. (Race is a bit of an artificial construction anyway.)

The three largest *ethnic groups* in Nigeria are Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, apparently, but there are actually more than 250 ethnic groups that live there.

And there are British, American, East Indian, Chinese, white Zimbabwean, Japanese, Greek, Syrian and Lebanese immigrants in Nigeria as well as Cubans. (All this from Wikipedia.)

In other words, please do not assume that anyone who is "Nigerian" is of any specific race. It is a country filled with ethnic diversity.

Honestly, it reminds me of the scene in Mean Girls when one girl asks the new student from Africa "Why are you white?"

OT, but on my local mommy listserv, of an upper middle class urban east coast neighborhood, is filled to brim with woo (GAPS diets, attachment parenting, homeopathy) and a mom was just on there asking for remedies for her kids' chicken pox outbreak.

Great, a chicken pox outbreak on my playground. Now, my kid is old enough to be vaccinated, but there are lots of babies around.

Of course, my unwritten answer is, "Gee, I don't know. My kid won't get chicken pox BECAUSE SHE WAS VACCINATED."


I looked it up. (Yes, I had to look it up. I do not know that much about Nigeria.) Nigeria was at one point under British control, meaning that there are *probably* multiple “races” living there

Northern and southern Nigeria are also quite different in terms of religion; I'm too tired to look at it again, but I recall that the real problems with polio eradication efforts have been in the (Muslim) north rather than the (Catholic) south, not that the likes of Cogforlife wouldn't be more than happy to stir this pot in the south.

@Bob G

Allow me to offer a suggestion. Wait 24 or 48 hours before responding to me. That’s all I ask.

I in fact have not been following the CBS comments at all, and have only had the opportunity to give the exchange here passing attention. Your initial remark about the approach to commenting in such venues, indeed, struck me as reasonable enough without my having followed the CBS stuff.

Now that I have sorted out the swipe at elburto and further been treated to the observation that "Greg plays you like a harp," I can well assure you that you're in exactly no position to play games such as "you will have to go back and find the bits you wish to attack."

#120 Narad

Oh, quite. Mostly I was just attempting to point out that in this day and age, someone's country doesn't necessarily indicate his or her race.

There may be exceptions, but Nigeria is not one of them.

Bob, you may have meant this in good faith. However, "Nigerian" is not a race. It is not even an ethnicity. It is a nationality.

Oh, and...

I won’t be patronizing (as one or two of you have been to me) by making a show of "not" suggesting that you reread my comments


@Bob G:

I simply pointed out that in my opinion the back and forth on the CBS comments section was not effective. I stand by that remark.

FTFY. And I disagree with you. I've found that calling out antivaxxers for lying works very well.

What I don’t know is whether the infighting on internet discussion sites is terribly effective. For one thing, the most active commenters here point out that they get purged from the anti-vaccine sites almost immediately.

Allowing lies to stand unchallenged is never a good idea. Our aim is not to convince the "true believers" but the fence sitters. Showing where the antivaxxers are wrong or outright lying will swing the undecideds.

And on the internet in general, outraged self-righteous attacks on total strangers (which is what I am to you) are fairly common

You just destroyed my hypocrisy meter. You have tone trolled here from your very first comment, you have been defensive when called out for your remarks, you twisted elburto's remarks about nationality into an accusation of racism, and you blithely accuse others of being self-righteous?

As a group, you are not showing a lot of restraint, wit, or depth of understanding.

Pot, meet Kettle.

As to whether Jay Gordon is well known either in his profession or to the general public, my feeling is that he is not well known to the general public. I did a small sampling and nobody I asked had ever heard of him.

The fact that he is not known among your circle of acquaintances does not mean he is not well known.

You preach at the anti-vaccine people, call them crazy or refer to them as loons, make comments about their ability to reason and then — and then — ask them to consider the evidence carefully and with open minds.

We attack the ones who will never change their minds and we put out evidence to convince the undecideds. Learn the concept of differentiation.

When I pointed out that the research literature demonstrates damage to the developmental pathway in autism (clearly it does), I am attacked for vocalizing a forbidden thought. Somebody didn’t like the term “brain damaged” — so OK with the lesson on sensitivity — but show me why a wealth of research literature (some of it cited by your regulars here) is so incorrect.

Kindly post this evidence Bob.
I stand by my criticism of you. You are a tone troll and a hypocrite.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ Bob G.: Here's the deal. You don't have to wait for my comments for several days.

"Wow. I simply pointed out that the back and forth on the CBS comments section was not effective. I stand by that remark."

That's your opinion and when you offered up some advice, I invited you to come and post at the CBS blog...and you didn't. So, if you won't put yourself out there and resort to a personal attack on my style...then you are trying to get a reaction. Your pedantic comments mean diddly squat to me.

" In my profession and my avocation, bad writing is bad writing. And on the internet in general, outraged self-righteous attacks on total strangers (which is what I am to you) are fairly common."

Project much, Bob?

"For one thing, the most active commenters here point out that they get purged from the anti-vaccine sites almost immediately."

I've never posted a comment on any anti-vaccine site.

"As to whether Jay Gordon is well known either in his profession or to the general public, my feeling is that he is not well known to the general public."

You are wrong. Jay Gordon is well known to young parents because of his exposure on the Ho-Po, the sheer volume of parenting magazines he writes for, and the books on parenting that he has authored including his latest one "Preventing Autism", his several Facebook pages and his very active "Twitter" page.

"I think what’s missing from the in-crowd here is a willingness to consider honest discussion, as differentiated from the obvious trolling by the anti-vaccine group. Some of you seem to be making a hobby of feeding the trolls, as the comment count shows for the more trolled threads. Greg plays you like a harp."

I haven't responding to The Troll once, since April. I ignore him, I talk around his comments and I deliberately go off-topic when he spams a thread.

Bob G, I went to one of the first threads you commented on.
In this comment, you called autistics brain damaged.
When Melissa G called you out, instead of admitting you were wrong, you doubled down and used the word "recover".
You have no freaking right whatsoever to criticise us for incivility.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 23 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Bob G, why don't you present a good example for us on the CBS comment thread? I don't think "press of other business" is an adequate reason since you have time to write long notes here on how poorly the denizens of this site conduct themselves.

I try hard not to respond to Politicalguineapig's bigotry, but this is simply a lie:

Catholic doctors ... are forbidden to give life-saving treatment to female patients

I know Catholic doctors and other medical professionals. I was in Oklahoma City after the bombing; I saw them working themselves to utter exhaustion trying to save lives then -- yes, even the lives of women, Politicalguineapig. Eighteen years down the line, a friend of mine who was working in St. Anthony's, the (Catholic) hospital that was closest to the explosion, still talks with deep emotion about what that was like.

Yes, Catholic doctors and Catholics in general have a problem with abortion, which is the only thing Politicalguineapig apparently cares about. But that's because they are good people who disagree with Politicalguineapig about exactly when life begins. But the number of women who need an abortion to save their lives is rather small compared to the number of women who need other life-saving treatment which Catholic doctors of course can and do provide to the very best of their ability.

And if you need an abortion to save your life, there are plenty of doctors in the United States who will provide it. (I do not comment on other countries such as Ireland, which is probably what she is thinking of, because Politicalguineapig does not live in Ireland.)

I don't see elburto's statement as racist at all. I could recount at length on the problems I have personally experienced with some Nigerians in the NHS, while others have been highly skilled, hard-working and conscientious. I have spoken to the latter about the former, and they are well aware of the problem, and did not regard it as racist of me to mention it. Pretending a problem doesn't exist through some misplaced sense of political correctness is less than helpful, in my opinion.

I am curious though. Is it considered racist on Bob G.'s side of the Atlantic to refer to "a Mexican clinic", with the connotations of quackery and poor standards of care that are usually implied?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Also, "because there are a lot of fundies and pervs" in gynecology needs a citation.

Since it's not about science, I'd say survey results or possibly sex crime conviction rates (not accusation rates) would be enough support for that assertion.

It's only anecdote, but my gynecologists have all been nonpervs, and if they were fundies it never came up during visits. Perhaps I've simply been lucky, but I... find it very hard to believe a whole *branch* of medicine, of all things, is bad.

The last surgeon I dealt with came into the examining room with a dozen or more buttons saying "Jesus saves" or the like. She didn't wear them in surgery, but she paused to pray before starting the procedure.

She didn't make any effort to proselytize; she just wore her heart on her sleeve, you might say. What do I care, if that's how she feels? She did a good job and that's what counts with a surgeon.


Is it considered racist on Bob G.’s side of the Atlantic to refer to “a Mexican clinic”, with the connotations of quackery and poor standards of care that are usually implied?

I suspect it would be considered bigoted, particularly by people who run clinics in Mexico that provide a high standard of care based on scientific principles.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

@Bob G: I will say again - lilady's very first comment on the CBS blog was to point out CBS' lack of rigour in following up Jay Gordon's comments. Which is something I believe you criticised them for.

And then Lara Loehne's first comment was to point out that she, and members of her family, have been severely damaged by vaccine preventable diseases, in response to someone who claimed to have gotten many VPDs as a child and was fine. Seeing as the anti-vax crowd put so much store in anecdotes, I would think Lara's story of the damage caused directly by VPDs is just as valid, but apparently not.

Finally, I'd like to address your assertion that Dr Jay Gordon isn't well known and therefore his opinion is nothing to worry about. I would suggest most people would see "Dr Jay Gordon, paediatrician" and think 'hey, a doctor who works with kids - he probably knows what he's talking about.' Because they see that title, Dr, backed up with paediatrician, and both of those imply specialist knowledge.

Have you ever noticed how cranks are desperate to appropriate titles such as "Doctor" and get their crankery professionally recognised and accredited? That's because for all their despising of "Western" and "allopathic" medicine, they realise that people, for the most part, trust doctors and genuine medical practitioners, and they want some of that. This is why you will find people waving around their titles and qualifications when they really want to prove their point. And why I find them despicable and call them twerps.

(For what it's worth, no medical qualifications to my name, unless you count a lapsed first aid certificate and a current CPR certificate. Just almost 20 years working closely with health practitioners of all kinds, in a professional capacity as an IT expert, and as a patient.)

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Sorry - in that last comment I wrote This is why you will find people waving around their titles and qualifications when they really want to prove their point.

What I meant was This is why you will find people waving around their titles and qualifications to reinforce every little point they make. And that's why they're despicable twerps.

(I've found the people with the truly impressive qualifications usually don't advertise their truly impressive qualifications, they walk the walk rather than talking the talk. They will bring out their qualifications if they are getting tired of someone constantly trying to claim authority they don't have though, and it is usually extremely entertaining.)

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

The last surgeon I dealt with came into the examining room with a dozen or more buttons saying “Jesus saves” or the like. She didn’t wear them in surgery, but she paused to pray before starting the procedure

Speaking as a Christian? That would creep me out.

Gotta agree, Shay. I'd be a bit weirded out by that too. It seems inappropriate, and the surgeon should probably pray in her office or something, perhaps with any members of her team that would like to join her.

Though that doesn't indicate fundamentalism, which is a specific theological stance, and prayer is not limited to that theological stance.

LW: Oklahoma was, as you point out, nearly 20 years, two popes and three presidents ago. There have been a lot of policy changes during that time, including the Bush-era regulations that allowed physicians and pharmacists to pick and choose the treatments they give to their patients. A physician in the US can decline to treat any patient if they cite a religious justification that conflicts with treatment. Same goes for pharmacists; if it's against their religion, they don't have to sell a given pill (ranging from the infamous pill to insulin) and they are under no obligation to refer someone to another pharmacist.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Khani - Luke 18:9-14.

PGP, if Catholic doctors are anything like other Catholics, they pretty much ignore what the Pope has to say anyway.

Gynos are pervs? Where on earth did you come up with that one? Even for you that's bizarre.

Catholic doctors … are forbidden to give life-saving treatment to female patients</blockquote

kindly point out the new law or papal declaration since 1995 that forbids Catholic doctors from giving life-saving treatment to women. Kindly point out an authority that requires Catholic doctors to watch a female burn victim die in agony without lifting a finger. Kindly point out an authority that requires Catholic doctors to watch a female patient die of heart disease without lifting a finger.

I'm not even Catholic but this bigotry is infuriating to me.

@ Christine(tpsC): Somehow, the CBS Radio blog did re-arrange the comments section, yesterday. It seems to have been corrected, now. I believe my first comment was this:

"lilady R.N. • 4 days ago

Unfortunately, Dr. Gordon's 4 month old patient is not eligible for a measles vaccine, but a young infant under 6 months of age, with a measles exposure to a close household contact may be given an IM dose of immune globulin, in lieu of the MMR vaccine.

One has to wonder if Dr. Gordon's 4 month patient has slightly older siblings and the parents are following Dr. Gordon's advice and they too, are unprotected?

What more can we expect from Dr. Gordon, who refuses to abide by the AAP Standards of Care to provide timely and complete immunizations, according to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations?"

pgp: Please stop! You've have told repeatedly on this blog, that your animus directed to men in general and male doctors in particular, is inappropriate and vile.


Fair enough. I missed the comment where you acknowledged saying something about "look at the comment I posted..." Pointing that out on my part was unnecessary, and I apologize for harping on it. I do feel that most of Bob G's comments (and yes, I also went back and looked at the history) weren't purposefully offensive, but I can understand some people are more sensitive about things than others and don't fault anyone for retaliating to such language. I do have a question about this particular statement, however...

I tried to explain to Bob that “brain damaged” infers that infants were born “perfectly” neuro-typical and that “something” caused that brain damage…a favorite trope of the anti-vaxxers and their targeting of vaccines being the cause of their kids’ “brain damage”.

What literature is this inferred from? I agree it's a favorite trope of the anti-vaccine crowd, but I can't see it's a inappropriate term to use. I'm not trolling about this. Any mental illness, be it genetic or post-birth, that leaves an individual non-neurotypical would be a damaging the normal pathophysiogical development of the brain, would it not?

A final note about trolls, here or elsewhere: I understand calling them out on their unsupported arguments is satisfying and (seemingly) effective. People like Greg, for instance, have demonstrated they are not interested in any of the science, no matter how much of it is explained in a language any non-scientist would understand. Having threads go to 500+ comments with repetitive banter that is all good science but ineffective in its communication is only feeding what they set out to do in the first place.

That said, I do respect all the regulars on here and applaud them for what they do here and elsewhere. I don't want my questions to be misconstrued for a lack of that.

Bob, aren't your words equally applicable to you? You are badly misjudging your audience here, using sloppy if not incorrect terminology, and being both disrespectful and condescending, not to mention long-winded. (A big block of text is no one's friend--I read half a paragraph and itched for a red pencil.)

As a writer and editor, I too have often said that a writer's intentions matter less than their execution. That applies to you here, as well. But in your case I have even less sympathy, because your intentions seem shallow, disingenous, and self-aggrandizing. Not to mention the hypocrisy of railing about how when it's YOUR words of wisdom, the fault must be on Orac's readers, and not your writing.

Noun1.brain damage - injury to the brain that impairs its functions (especially permanently); can be caused by trauma to the head, infection, hemorrhage, inadequate oxygen, genetic abnormality, etc.

Literature in this aspect generally means scientific literature, but I gather you knew that already. Where in that definition should I take that "brain damage" is an inadequate descriptor?

@Sophia #56 I meant no disrespect, nor was I attempting to diagnose anyone. Simply going by my own knowledge of things. I wasn't throwing around schizotypal with ASD to point to any stereotype, but my partner has autism, schizotypal and numerous other diagnoses. It is not unheard of for an individual with an ASD to also have co-morbid personality disorders typically from going so long being undiagnosed with ASD and many times it has been found adults with undiagnosed ASD are incorrectly diagnosed with a personality disorder. Most of the time it is NOS because their behavior, etc doesn't fit into any norms, because they really don't have a personality disorder but ASD and the evaluators don't have experience diagnosing ASD in adults.

I am an autism ally. Both my partner and our son have autism, I am not blinding throwing out anything, I am making statements based on my own experience and knowledge about them. Denise was quite right when she said, the persona that Jake Crosby presents online may very well fall under certain characteristics of mental health disorders, but without knowing what he is like not online, it is all conjecture.

By Lara Lohne (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

eNOS, 'brain-damaged' has a particularly negative connotation when used for people with ASD. As someone who isn't on the spectrum, I didn't really understand how and why the phrase was so insulting until I read "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum" by Temple Grandin. That book changed quite a bit about how I thought about ASD, I highly recommend you give it a read.

AdamG: Thanks for the recommendation. I've seen that book mentioned here before and it sounds interesting. I'll give it a look.

eNOS: I provided a link to the American Heritage Medical Dictionary definition of "brain damage" (traumatic brain injury), which apparently doesn't satisfy you.

There are hundreds of genetic disorders (chromosomal, hereditary gene disorders and de novo gene mutations), which cause obvious fetal brain structure anomalies...and ASDs.

Ingestion of substances "street drugs", ETOH, and some prescribed medications (Depakene), which cause obvious fetal brain structure anomalies...and ASDs.

Expectant mothers who become infected with a V-P-D, (varicella and rubella) which cause obvious fetal brain structure anomalies resulting in Congenital Varicella Syndrome and Congenital Rubella Syndrome...and ASDs.

Other maternal infections such as Cytomegalovirus and Listeria pyogenes which cause obvious fetal brain structure anomalies...and ASDs.

As long as we're nitpicking, I'd argue that brain damage is not limited to traumatic brain injury. I am personally acquainted with several people who have suffered anoxic brain injuries, for instance, some with quite extensive damage, and I also know somebody who survived West Nile Virus. She did end up with permanent brain damage from it, but not terribly extensive; it compromised her short-term memory somewhat and seemed to make her more irritable, but otherwise she was fine.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

BTW, I would not generally class autism as brain damage. It's a different beast altogether. That said, one of the people I know who suffered an anoxic brain injury does have symptoms reminiscent of autism, but autism also runs in the family. It's possible he would've been autistic anyway, but of course impossible to know given that nobody has a time machine handy.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Unfortunately, "brain damaged" like the R word has taken on a colloquial meaning that is more offensive than the original clinical meaning.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Well Julian @124 has saved me some stress and time!

@M o'B. @Krebiozen's explained it pretty well. I've had doctors of every race and nationality, the NHS is like that. Actually, it's suffering due to the ageing-out of the Indian docs that were the backbone of the service from its inception.

I mentioned his nationality because I'd mentioned him before here. Like Krebiozen said there's a problem with Nigerian doctors. The vast majority are dedicated and warm, as Dr E was initially, but the problem is often their unwillingness to tolerate the types of people or situations that are common here, but not in Nigeria.

Dr E upset a friend of a friend by refusing to talk with her about her request for an abortion, referring very negatively to her "morals", and again - offering her a dose of Jesus.

Final comment to Bub- (who BTW TBruce stole all the pearls) roflwaffles at your attempt to lay down rules for us to reply to your comments.

Shine on you dull little boulder.

Calli: Do you know if short-term memory loss is common among people who contracted West Nile? My uncle had a bad case of it last summer. (He's had malaria and typhus, I can't imagine how he skipped the dengue fever, and is one of the three people responsible for the family in-joke that we get all the odd diseases.)

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

elburto - I mean no disrespect, and I'm not there. I didn't read Krebiozen's message as saying there was a problem with Nigerian doctors - just some Nigerian doctors. I read that the same way as there are problems with some English doctors or some Irish doctors or some French doctors. But I don't know, because I'm not there.

I recently had an incredibly unpleasant experience with my Jordanian dentist and an implant. The issue was that the tooth he was trying to remove kept shattering every time he tried to pull it. He eventually ended up having to drill it out, which was long and tedious and painful. In this case I don't blame him (it was my tooth, after all) and I don't see any connection with his country of origin or, perhaps, race and religion (I don't know what his religion is and since his office is in a Jewish neighborhood I would not venture to guess). But I threw in his nationality just because.

Now, when I read over that, i'm concerned that I came across wrong.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Maybe there are more problems with Nigerian doctors than other nationalities. I don't know from statistics or personal observation.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

We do have a real problem in the UK with a disproportionate number doctors and other medical professionals from Nigeria whose standards of behavior are unacceptable.

I have had personal experience of this and the problems were allowed to continue for far too long, to put it bluntly, because of white people pussy-footing around out of fear of accusations of racism. Managers were too afraid to act when patients were put at real risk, and other members of staff (female and also from ethnic minorities) were being bullied and demeaned. I'm tired of rules of political correctness putting at risk the very people they are supposed to protect.

This affects the reputations of those Nigerians whose skills and behavior are beyond reproach; I know from talking to some of my colleagues that they recognize the problem and take it very seriously.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

That should read, "some of my Nigerian colleagues", to be clear.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Krebiozen - I notice that Nigeria seems to be 3rd in that list after India and Egypt. Why is Nigeria worthy of special mention?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

OK, maybe it's second after India.

The point remains.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Thanks for the clarification, lilady. It looks like CBS uses Disqus to manage comments, and it does do whacky things to comments.

Fact remains, you called out CBS for not pressing for more information from Dr Jay.

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 24 Jul 2013 #permalink

Wait. Sorry, but, seriously? There were seriously RI regulars that did not realize Bob G is a petulant tone troll with delusions of grandeur? Did the vague resume-humping and O'Reillyish hit-stat wankery not give it away?

I try to assume good faith unless it's very, very, *incredibly* apparent that there's none there.

It's sort of a variation on the old "never assume malice when stupidity accounts for it," though often it's not stupidity either. (Please don't think I'm calling anyone stupid here.)


Krebiozen – I notice that Nigeria seems to be 3rd in that list after India and Egypt. Why is Nigeria worthy of special mention?

I see you realized that the proportions of doctors from each country who have been suspended or struck off, rather than the numbers, are important. In the UK 1.6% of doctors trained in Nigeria, but 4.9% of those suspended or struck off trained in Nigeria.

Here are the proportions of doctors suspended or struck off and their country of training (UK figures from the GMC website) :
1 in 90 Egypt
1 in 108 Nigeria
1 in 125 Iraq
1 in 211 India
1 in 254 Pakistan
1 in 638 UK

Having seen this list, I am equally concerned about doctors trained in Egypt and Iraq. There's clearly a problem, and I'm not convinced that it is racism in the GMC, as I have seen people claim. I notice that the examples of doctors suspended or struck off in that Telegraph article are all cases of incompetence, apart from the two Nigerian doctors mentioned, one of whom was, "found guilty by a court of sexually assaulting two colleagues at the hospital", and the other "was a criminal with a record of deceit that spanned more than a decade".

From my personal perspective, in almost 25 years working in the NHS as a biomedical scientist I have worked with Indians (including Sikhs, Hindus and Jains), Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Kenyans, Ghanaians, Turks, Sudanis, Egyptians, Moroccans, Scots, Northern Irish, Southern Irish, Australians, New Zealanders, Poles, French, Canadians, Americans, English, Welsh, South Africans, Zimbabweans, Jamaicans and I'm quite sure some other nationalities I don't immediately recall.

I have had exactly two colleagues who have been abusive towards other members of staff, and who have been willfully negligent in their work, even after warnings, to the point of putting patients at serious risk*. Both were Nigerian**. Both quit just before disciplinary hearings and thus went on to work at other hospitals with clean records.

In one case I know that the man in question continued his abusive behavior at his new place of employment as I ran into his new colleagues at a professional conference, and had to admit to them that we were aware of his behavior, but had been advised not to mention it in his references because he had never been found guilty of any misbehavior, even though I had witnessed it myself.

As well as this personal experience I have heard numerous complaints from health care workers and people in other professions who have experienced similar problems with Nigerians, in many cases they have been found to have bogus qualifications.

If it was any other nationality who appeared to be so disproportionately represented in the context of professional misconduct or fraud, I would not hesitate to say so. I can only recall one Egyptian doctor I have worked with and she was extremely competent. I have done medical anthropological field work in Egypt and interviewed doctors there, and I was surprised to see that Egyptian doctors have been suspended or struck off in the UK in such numbers.

I know, again from talking to my highly competent and well-behaved Nigerian friends and colleagues, that fraud is considered not just culturally acceptable but is admired in some parts of Nigeria, particularly, I believe, in one specific tribal group. We see this reflected in Nigerian email scams, and in numerous other highly sophisticated and successful frauds across the world.

There is also the kind of intolerance that elburto mentioned, that I have also witnessed, not only against women, but against South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis Bengalis etc.), and I overheard one of Nigerian colleagues I mentioned stating that he believed gay people should be executed, which deeply disturbed me.

I am not going to keep quiet about this out of fear of being accused of bigotry. I am not suggesting that there is anything innate in Africans in general or Nigerians in particular that makes them behave badly, I am suggesting that cultural values held by some Nigerians far too frequently results in behavior that is considered unacceptable in the UK.

Equally I do hesitate to condemn those nations in which female genital mutilation is carried out, sometimes by Sudanese and Somalian doctors, since this is also a serious problem in my part of the world, and is not talked about enough.

I do not consider labeling some cultural values and behaviors as unacceptable in the UK as bigotry, and I think that this blurring of the lines between culture and nature is extremely unhelpful. If I am not allowed to point out that hateful, intolerant, abusive or negligent behavior is too common in people from certain countries because that would make me a bigot, something has gone very badly wrong somewhere.

* One man was caught misusing a glucose analyzer and sending out erroneous hypoglycemic results on premature babies. When I confronted him about this, and pointed out that it could have serious consequences for both the babies and also for him personally, he was completely unabashed. He smiled and told me that God would protect him. The same man regularly disappeared for hours at a time when he was supposed to be providing urgent cover, and was involved in a car accident while giving a friend a lift somewhere when he was not supposed to leave the hospital, among several other misdemeanors. The other was found to have been routinely failing to run quality controls when doing serum acetaminophen levels, and had sent out wrong results which could easily have led to the patient not being given life-saving treatment, again among other misdemeanors, including bullying and sexual harassment.

** There was a woman from Northern Ireland who was not deemed competent to work unsupervised, but this was scattiness, rather than willful and repeated negligence - have you ever seen someone put plastic test tubes in a boiling water bath? It's not pretty. She left and became a drug company rep, which was more suited to her temperament.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 25 Jul 2013 #permalink

Barbara Loe Fisher is a guest columnist at AoA and she has released a press release...in the form of video...defending Jenny McCarthy and all the nasty men who posted sexist remarks on science blogs. I'm so disappointed that she didn't mention the females who posted some of McCarthy's history of anti-vaccination activities and her "recovery" of her son...in addition to some science facts:


Ginger Taylor makes a guest appearance at TMR defending another rebellious TM fighting the Establishment / Status Quo/ Reasonability on television.
WARNING: includes video.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Jul 2013 #permalink

But lilady #164, women are each other's own worst enemies, didn't you know that? Of course we're just probably jealous of Jenny and we dress it up as concern over her opinions. /sarcasm

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 25 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ Denice Walter: I'm glad you warned me about Ginger's video; truly a "gem".

@ Christine: Yeah, I'm insanely jealous of Jenny. Babs has got some nerve to make a statement like that.


I’m still trying to figure out what Jake’s end game is.

Even though it's foolish to try and work out someone's intentions, I'm going to give it a shot. Crosby is a true believer in the MMR Autism Causation hypothesis and thinks that one day "the truth will come out". I further think that he hopes and believes that he will be the one who finally "cracks the case" and gets the glory. In his mind, the story ends with him vindicated and celebrated, and Paul Offit and Brian Deer disgraced. It'll never happen, but he imagines it will.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 25 Jul 2013 #permalink

It is very odd to me, that every time I post about Jenny's confusion (too dumb to get her story straight about the onset of her child's autism) and Jenny's "original story" that it was the MMR vaccine that done did it, a group of the sycophants from AoA, accusing me of dwelling on Wakefield's study. They accuse me of ignoring the many other "theories" that have been advance since them...including Thimerosal and those other nasty ingredients in vaccines that are responsible for the increase in autism prevalence...and in asthma, cronic illnesses such as IDDM and every other disease and disorder caused by vaccine.

Jake has been dwelling on Thimerosal (lately) and he's mighty p!ssed that Bobby Kennedy is not publishing his new book with even more "explosive information" about mercury in vaccine. Odd isn't it, that I support Jake, the Geiers and Brian Hooker who claim to have super secret information about the Governments effort to squash information about mercury in vaccine? I want to see Kennedy's "explosive new information about Thimerosal". I will be first one to put that book on reserve in my local librarian to evaluate the truthiness of Bobby Kennedy's book.

Meanwhile, Jake and the groupies at AoA, still worship Wakefield and the turds of misinformation he drops about the ingredients in vaccines.

O/T, but I'm getting some odd messages every time I have posted my last few comments. Anyone, having problems getting their comments posted?

@lilady: yes. It's the site. It's been flaky all day. Looks like service issues -- either they're running maintenance, there's a hardware issue or they're getting DDoSed again.

Donald R. Prothero on the foolishness of Jenny

"McCarthy's false ideas are more than just another idiot talking head blathering on about stuff they don't understand on TV. As the leading celebrity spokesperson for the anti-vaxx movement, she is a symbol of this form of virulent anti-science, and everything she says (even if she never speaks a word about it on the show) is colored by that perception. It is akin to hiring any other leading figure of an anti-science movement to such a prominent platform on TV."


"In reality there is still no "cure" for ASD, since it a complex of disorders, probably with multiple causes. If it is a largely genetic disorder, there is little likelihood that it will ever be a single, simple cure. Don't get me wrong: I feel her pain. I was probably an Asperger's child (years before it was ever defined or diagnosed) and two of my own children have Asperger's syndrome. But I'm not adopting quack medicine treatments or preaching discredited ideas from the internet, but following the best science-based medicine to treat them and help make their lives better. I don't blame vaccines or anything else, because I probably passed the gene on to my sons as an older father with ASD and a member of a high-risk category."


yes. It’s the site. It’s been flaky all day.

Several days, actually. That's where all the double posts are coming from. "Unable to establish a database connection" has been a bit more common lately than "service unavailable." It has back-end screwup written all over it.

I can't bring myself to go to Bolen's site. I'm pretty sure his description of our esteemed host (he is a breast cancer surgeon, for the benefit of any passing lurkers) as "the nipple ripper" tells me everything I need to know about him.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink


Olmsted's piece is "interesting", isn't it?

"What's up with the sexography" asks the man who hosts Handley's rants? Was the "date rape" comment by Handley on AoA? If not, Handley has enough other gems on AoA.

And only now does Olmsted see Segal for a crank? When the checks were coming in, no complaints about Segal. Then it was OK to take advantage of an old rich man.

By the way, Dan, if you want to consider Helen Thomas a colleague, get back into Journalism. AoA isn't journalism.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

Unfortunately, I HAVE read Bolen's swill.
( but I can't take any credit for my ability to withstand gushing torrents of nonsense and remain relatively unscathed by the ordeal- it's hereditarial and has enabled many of my ancestors and relatives to survive and flourish in the business world ).

Sticking to his articles of June and July, we can surmise that he has assembled a cast of characters in order to remedy the' problems caused by vaccines':
Robert Scott Bell, Barry Segal, Stephen Barrie ND, Brian Hooker, the Geiers, Andy, Jake and various attorneys are perhaps his brain trust.

The health freedom movement ( NHFA) sponsors 2 conventions annually in the US, each of which is attended by 14K ( he says) - which he compares to A1's paltry 1500.

Over the past 2 years I have heard about other woo-meisters being wooed by this group:
Mike Adams has been a featured guest in the past, but not this year;
Gary Null said that he was invited to confere and later to appear with the "largest health freedom group" in Chicago but declined their invitations after the meeting.

This tells us that they're searching for 'names' to lively-up their roster. Bolen sees disarray at AoA and other groups like TMR and the Canary Party and opportunistically is trying to get what he can out of it.

I can't see how any of these groups can really work together for any period of time due to their inherent problems dealing with reality- which usually involves negotiating with other people, compromising or submerging your idiosyncratic notions, being able to criticise your own work and seeing further than the end of your nose. What psychologists may call execuitve functioning and social cogniition are in short supply amongst this crowd.

Obviously these problems are not limited to the wide world of woo but at least in science and real journalism, particpants are guided by an allegiance to facts and fact checking reasonably independently of their deepest seated fantasies and unfulfilled needs.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ I.Rony Meter:

He even quotes Orac's 'hive of scum and quackery' jibe.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

OK--it looks like Dan (or someone) was able to convince JB that the "intellectualy rapes" title of his article was a bad idea.


Handley, being Handley, argues both sides. He argues that his statement was not offensive, but that he was offended by it so he changed it.

Clearly someone told him it was a PR disaster and made him change the title. Was it Olmsted or someone else?

gotta love Handley. After emailing his article to Amy Wallace he does a classic blame shift: "The only reason you are reading about a non-published draft of my essay is because Ms. Wallace chose to write about it."

Yes, it was Amy Wallace's fault. Handley sends her (a journalist) an abusive email and it's her fault that Handley got bad press for it.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

"He even quotes Orac’s ‘hive of scum and quackery’ jibe."

Yeah, while still trying to make the "rebel alliance" theme stick.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

I had forgotten what logical pretzels he creates.

"With some reflection, I decided that although "intellectual rape", a relatively commonly used term, and "sexual rape" were very different things, the use of the word "rape" was ultimately in poor taste, would distract from the article, and would most certainly offend some readers, and could appear demeaning of women, which wasn't remotely the intention of the piece or my words. So, I changed the article to the one you all have read, and then AoA ran it the next day. And, I sent Ms. Wallace, via email, the new piece."

Riiiight. He wrote a title intending it to grab and insult. It was a cheap stunt by Handley.

What sort of jerks does he hang out with where "intellectually rapes" is "relatively common"? If it is in poor taste, why does he use it "relatively commonly"?

And, he goes into the article he sent Amy Wallace about date rape drugs. It was the frakkin' core of his cheap story. But he backpedals and blames everyone except himself. Like all bullies, he's a coward.

By I. Rony Meter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

"Unfortunately, I HAVE read Bolen’s swill."

It's a potentially dangerous pastime. One can almost visualize brain worms crawling out of the computer screen.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

What sort of jerks does he hang out with where “intellectually rapes” is “relatively common”? If it is in poor taste, why does he use it “relatively commonly”?

I would hazard a guess that Handley doesn't "hang out" with a particularly high calibre crowd as he is a classless slob. It is in his own little world that such a phrase is "relatively common". He is, after all, a chauvinistic shite weasel who made his wife get chelated before getting pregnant with their subsequent child(ren). That doesn't say much for her either since she went along with it.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ Dangerous Bacon:

I can assure you that I am absoluely fine : I am quite immune to any deleterious effects resulting from periodically immersing myself in woo, even woo as awful as Bolen's -

as a matter of fact, I had a lovely day, my companion and I took a boat ride on the river; I noticed the dark, swirling waters as we rode through narrow channels and great brooding cliffs towering far above us whilst the waters churned unhappily and upon the starboard side observed a vast ruin of an ancient island castle built by a mad Scotsman who had amassed a great fortune and then squandered it because he became morose when his wife died and didn't take proper care of his castle's foundation which, deteriorating, began slowly SINKING into the wild and treacherous river, that is, the parts which hadn't already burned to the ground, going up in smoke like most of our dreams, most of the time, and after a decade or two it really doesn't matter much whatever we do or say or how hard we strive or plan or imagine that it'll turn out well when it's all really quite hopeless- isn't it?- and meaningless and will most likely sink rapidly or slowly into a vast, treacherous, unforgiving river without ever leaving even a single trace that anything of value had ever even existed there - just swirling waters and brooding cliffs and decayed remnants of lost souls' hopes and dreams sinking slowly so what's the use anyway? Why should we even bother to try to solve problems and repair our lives or castles when we know full well that eventually...it will burn or flood or maybe both so

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

Why should we even bother to try to solve problems and repair our lives or castles when we know full well that eventually…it will burn or flood or maybe both so

I do hope that is merely an exquisite simulation of existential angst.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Jul 2013 #permalink

@ Krebiozen:

Actually simulation of emotional expression in written form is one of my better functions... Ooops.

-btw- the late Scotsman's crumbling castle and the boat are real-
I just can't say where they are because then Jake et compagnie will have a better idea of where I live.
(I have very little internet presence under my full name but what I have is very revealing because it involves business sales and purchases).

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 28 Jul 2013 #permalink

In thinking this over, I am sure that Dan Olmsted is very very worried about recent developments. I am sure that in the safety of his echo chamber he has been imagining that the anti-vax viewpoint has been gaining traction. But, it hasn't. When he looks at the articles, and comments to those articles, regarding Jenny McCarthy's appointment to The View, it must be totally clear that his "side" is not only losing, it is losing big time. It's a shocking wake up call. He can't ignore this. So, it must be someone else's fault...... And on to Barry Segal.

By Broken Link (not verified) on 29 Jul 2013 #permalink