Year end award lists you do and don't want to be on

Christmas and New Years are almost here. As a result, as is always the case this time of year, we're being flooded with "year end" lists. These lists are a fun distraction that I actually rather look forward to as an amusing (and sometimes annoying) year end tradition. In particular, I'm a sucker for "best of the year" and "worst of the year" lists, particularly the latter. Unfortunately, I've usually been too lazy to construct such lists of my own, but maybe this year will be different and next week I'll do so. Or not.

Be that as it may, it gave me a bit of a chuckle to see that Mike Adams over at that wretched hive of scum and quackery,, set his minions Ethan Huff and J.D. Heyes to the task of coming up with a couple of year end lists in articles entitled, Natural News announces recipients of the 2015 Journalist Courage Awards and Natural News announces recipients of 2015 Celebrity Hall of Shame Awards (if the link doesn't work and redirects you to a page extolling the "scientific achievements" of Mike Adams, try this link). (No doubt there'll be more before the end of the year.) I couldn't help but think as I perused these articles that, were I a journalist, there's no way in hell I'd want to be in the first list, but if I were a celebrity I'd love to be in the second list. Before I read each article, I tried to guess who was in each list. The journalist awards were easy to predict. The usual suspects were all there and then some. In contrast, the celebrity awards were not as obvious. You'll see what I mean in a minute.

So who was the first journalist to be praised by Adams' minions? Personally, I thought it would be Sharyl Attkisson, but in 2015, they appear to want to recognize fresh crank blood:

Ben Swann: Without a doubt Mr. Swann is one of the best and brightest young investigative journalists we have today, and he's not too afraid or intimidated to take on any subject that the national-level corporate-owned and politically compromised media would find objectionable.

For instance, Mr. Swann is one of the few journalists willing to tell the truth about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's cover-up of research showing links between vaccines and brain injuries which manifest as tics and autism symptoms, as revealed by CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson.

Thanks for being a beacon of truth, Ben!

You know, if I were a journalist, this award isn't the sort of thing I'd put on my resume, if you know what I mean. Swann, if you remember, is the Alex Jones wannabe anchor of the early evening newscast for the Atlanta CBS affiliate, WGCL CBS46. Hired in June after having done stints in Cincinnati and El Paso, as well as having built his own little YouTube channel chock full of stories where Swann emulated his apparent hero, Alex Jones, in mining the conspiracy circuit. He went full antivaccine back in October when he did a sympathetic (and inaccurate)
"Reality Check" on the antivaccine protest
at the CDC over the so-called #CDCWhistleblower manufactroversy. Then, a mere three weeks ago, Swann followed up his piece de resistance of antivaccine reporting by revealing to the world that he had obtained from Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) the documents provided him by the "CDC Whistleblower" himself, CDC scientist William Thompson, whose conversations with biochemical engineer turned antivaccine activist Brian Hooker (which Hooker recorded without Thompson's knowledge) birthed the whole "CDC whistleblower" manufactroversy in the first place in the summer of 2014.

Yes, Swann truly deserves this award. All I can say is: Sharyl Attkisson, watch your back. There's a new antivaccine propagandist and all-purpose conspiracy monger in town and his star is rising.

Speaking of Attkisson:

She digs deeper and takes stories where they lead, which is how she was able to reveal that the "latest study debunking the link was actually funded by a group with major financial ties to Big Pharma vaccine makers. Didn't hear that on TV, did you?

Keep dropping those truth bombs, Sharyl!

I checked out the article that Heyes referenced in his praise of Attkisson, What the News Isn’t Saying About Vaccine-Autism Studies. In it, she harps on the fact that the Lewin Group funded this major study that, consistent with all the other well-designed studies looking at the question, found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Amusingly, this is what she says:

What you didn’t learn on the news was that the study was from a consulting firm that lists major vaccine makers among its clients: The Lewin Group.

That potential conflict of interest was not disclosed in the paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine; the study authors simply declare “The Lewin Group operates with editorial independence.”

Sharyl, Sharyl, Sharyl. How am I supposed to take you seriously when you cite this paper as having been published in the NEJM when in fact it was published in JAMA. I mean, seriously. If you can't be bothered to identify the journal correctly, I have to wonder what else you got wrong. Be that as it may, the Lewin Group is a consulting firm. Its clients include the the federal government, state and local governments, hospitals, foundations, associations, and insurers. So, yes, it's not surprising that its clients include pharmaceutical companies as well. Take that for what you will, but it's hardly incredibly damning, nor is it evidence that the study was hopelessly flawed. It wasn't; it was a pretty decent study, as I pointed out at the time when I blogged about it.

None of this stops Sharyl from writing one of my favorite paragraphs she's ever penned:

Their work is, at best, ignored by the media; at worst, viciously attacked by the predictable flock of self-appointed expert “science” bloggers who often title their blogs with the word “science” or “skeptics” to confer an air of legitimacy.

This astroturf movement, in my opinion, includes but is not limited to: LeftBrainRightBrain, ScienceBlogs, NeuroSkeptic, ScienceBasedMedicine, LizDitz, ScienceBasedMedicine, CrooksandLiars, RespectfulInsolence, HealthNewsReview, SkepticalRaptor, Skepticblog,, Wired, BrianDeer, SethMnookin, Orac, Every Child by Two, the vaccine industry supported American Academy of Pediatrics, and the government/corporate funded American Council on Science and Health (once called “Voodoo Science, Twisted Consumerism” by the watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest).

Sharyl likes me. She really, really likes me. She really, really likes a lot of friends and bloggers I admire, too! In any case, she's going to have to up her game in 2016 to fend off Ben Swann's challenge.

Then, of course, the list includes Eric Lipton, whose deceptive hit piece on Kevin Folta, a prominent horticultural scientist and outspoken defender of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as safe, was part of what drove Folta from public advocacy, along with threats against his family. Never mind that Lipton's piece was an obvious hatchet job designed to discredit Folta, the result of a concerted campaign to harass scientists who defend GMOs with frivolous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

I must admit that I haven't heard of many of the other "journalists" given this "honor," with the exception of Glenn Greenwald and Jeffry John Aufderheide, the latter of whom came to my attention because he runs a crank antivaccine website (but I repeat myself) known as Let's just say that he's deluded enough to think that pesticides, specifically DDT, caused polio outbreaks before the vaccines and that it was really the cessation of DDT use, not the vaccine, that caused polio incidence to plummet. He also demonizes polysorbate 80 in vaccines as the cause of all (OK, much) evil.

What about celebrities? Well, Adams hates Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, because Weiss actually stood up for science in response to a petition requesting "fairer" (translation: more credulous) treatment of alt-med on Wikipedia, dropping the mic with one of the most quotable characterizations of alt-med nonsense:

No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

Wikipedia's policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals - that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn't.

No wonder Adams doesn't like him. In fact, he detests Wales so much that his minion Ethan Huff is awarding Wales for something he said nearly two years ago!

Others on the list include Jon Stewart for his final monologue, during which he attacked anthropogenic global climate change denialists (a most excellent takedown), because Adams is a climate science denialist himself; Deborah Nucatola because she's Senior Director of Medical Research at Planned Parenthood; Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, because they pointed out that, while terrorism by Muslims is a problem now, Christians are by no means innocent of terrorism; and Geraldo Rivera, because he Tweeted that the "second amendment is stupid." Particularly noxious to Adams' crew was Kristen Bell, who said:

"You have to get a whooping cough vaccination if you are going to hold our baby," Bell stated while promoting a tote concept called "This Bag Saves Lives." "It's very simple logic: I believe in trusting doctors, not know-it-alls."

Seems reasonable to me. No wonder Adams' crew doesn't like it.

Oh, and Huff and Adams really, really detest Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, too.

Knowing that many blogs and websites will slow way down (or even stop posting new material altogether) for the next four days because, due to Christmas Eve and Christmas, a lot of people won't be paying attention, I can only hope that Adams will find it in his money-grubbing, woo-filled heart to continue this awards process next week and list his "Hall of Shame" bloggers. I fully expect to be on such a list, given the quality of Adams' TruthWiki entry about a certain friend of the blog. Of course, I realize that by revealing that I consider inclusion on such lists a badge of honor I take the risk that Adams will purposely ignore me, as some other antivaccine bloggers have done. I'll take that risk.

Happy Holidays, my faithful minions.

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Wow, Orac! Sharyl *really* likes you. Even more than Steve Novella. Congrats for making her hit list in one form or another 5 times (counting Sciblogs and SBM). And, as shown by her mad accurate editing skillz, she actually has SBM listed twice.

Happy holidays and may you continue to make her lists as an evil Pharma Shill.

Of slight interest, NYU philosopher and anti-GMO luddite Nassim Nicholas Taleb called Attkisson's TEDX talk on astoturfing "brilliant." He also was part of the brigade of science-deniers that forced Folta to retreat.

Sad to see a smart guy descend into conspiracy theory lunacy. I would love to him discussed here sometime.

Hard to tell if it's worth the effort. Dude has a reputation of having a thin skin and being very abusive. I've observed his Twitter feed.

JP says she/he gonna get a radio show soon, on the college station. Stay tuned!

...Oh, wait. That's me!

Poor Glenn Greenwald. He didn't deserve that (dis)honor. Plus I hate to be reminded that there's at least one issue that I agree with Mike Adams on.

Merry Christmas, (belated) happy Hanukkah, happy holidays and New Year to Orac and the minions. May your holiday shill bonuses be bountiful!

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Sorry for the OT drive-by posting, but I thought some of Orac's long time readers might be interested in this:

Maternal use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and risk of autism spectrum disorders in childhood: A Danish national birth cohort study

Prenatal use of acetaminophen was associated with an increased risk of ASD accompanied by hyperkinetic symptoms (HR = 1.51 95% CI 1.19–1.92), but not with other ASD cases (HR = 1.06 95% CI 0.92–1.24). Longer duration of use (i.e., use for >20 weeks in gestation) increased the risk of ASD or infantile autism with hyperkinetic symptoms almost twofold. Maternal use of acetaminophen in pregnancy was associated with ASD with hyperkinetic symptoms only, suggesting acetaminophen exposure early in fetal life may specifically impact this hyperactive behavioral phenotype.

That's 4 out of 4 studies now that have looked at acetaminophen use in pregnancy and found adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes.


By Jen in TX (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

@Jen in TX: Hey, Jen! Long time, no see. Happy holidays.
Your link is broken. I'd like to see where the study is from and how it measured things. Taking acetominophen for more than 20 weeks, in my mind, links to the fact that there are other maternal health issues. Maybe those health issues lead to ASDs with hyperkinetic symptoms? And why would it lead to only one type of ASD?

Amusing that the "TruthWiki" entry on a certain skeptical blogger alleges that he "speaks in nasty tones, mocking and demeaning".

Thank goodness that we can always count on NN to show us the way by being polite and respectful.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

(FYI: Newer minions should know that clicking on Orac's link for the ((shudder)) 'Journalist Courage' awards will be diverted to an article bombastically declaring Mike's greatest achievements**. Instead g--gle the title of said article and go to that.)

At any rate, I can't help but notice that prominent amongst the hated are women who support abortion as well as vaccines.

Seriously guys, you live in a sophisticated society ( at least in PARTS) in the twenty-first frigging century - support for abortion is NOT a fringe position. WHAT audience are these guys courting? Rural? Conservative? Religious? Certainly not libertarians- with whom Mike identifies- who would probably support non-interference in personal decisions.

I think that this issue is something that goes even beyond concern about earning money because what he says could alienate those who support abortion- a majority IIRC. Mike shows his true position.

** lying habitually about medicine and earning obscene amounts of money?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Hi Dawn! (waves)
Been super busy-I've gone back to work full-time now, so the hubs can be a full time caregiver to our son (one of those 'perks' of autism--taking a fully capable adult out of the workforce to be a full-time caregiver to a dependent adult child) so I only swing by to read what's new every so often now.

As for the study, I don't think that they looked at postnatal exposures, which as I'm all too aware, can manifest as aberrant behaviors in some autistics, and so that is something that will have to be looked at, and I'm sure it will...eventually. Brain development is still rapidly occurring throughout infancy and toddlerhood, so if these exposures are continuing, such as with post-circumcision pain, or to treat a 2 month old's post-vaccine fever, or a 15 month old's teething pain or ear infection, or to help them sleep...and so on and so forth...I think you get the idea.

But those are great questions, Dawn! All in all, I am pleased to see these studies finally being done. A little bird told me that there are more coming. Stay tuned.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

By Jen in TX (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

(FYI: Newer minions should know that clicking on Orac’s link for the ((shudder)) ‘Journalist Courage’ awards will be diverted to an article bombastically declaring Mike’s greatest achievements**. Instead g–gle the title of said article and go to that.)

Well, that's weird. One link isn't redirected (the journalist "award") and the other (celebrity hall of shame) is redirected. I've noticed that Adams sometimes redirects traffic coming from this site to his "accomplishments" BS page, but this is inconsistent behavior.

Wait. I think I might have figured it out. When I turned off AdBlocker Plus, the redirect no longer occurred. Not sure if this is what's going on, but anecdotally it worked for me.

The link works/ worked for the Hall of Shame but not for the Courage Awards. Usually Mike does this for article he writes himself.
I don't use any ad-blocks - my computer is strictly no-frills just like me.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Yeah, neither redirected for me either with ABP* or without. I am on my phone though some maybe it is user agent specific.

Denice Walter@14

my computer is strictly no-frills just like me.

I make liberal use of Firefox addons and about:config tweaks. Custom browsers for custom people. ;)

*I recommend uBlock Origin over ABP. Not a huge fan of ABP's whitelisted ads policy (for pay whitelisting is too close to extortion). Plus uBlock is faster and more customizable anyways.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ capnkrunch:

Thanks but I'll leave well enough alone. I just disregard ads.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Be that as it may...

re Glenn Greenwald:
OF COURSE they'll add him!
These idiots style themselves as the *ne plus ultra* of new media and, with delusions of grandeur, count themselves amongst the movers and shakers.

The little fcker at often includes material from reasonable people like GG in order the show how relevant and important his own self-proclaimed *groundshaking* revelations are.
The Establishment is the enemy so anyone who reveals anything critical- reaisticallyl or not- of that is fine.
HOWEVER notice that they include others like Rapaport, Russian TV, Alex Jones, AoA etc.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Congratulations to the blinky box of lights. You're in excellent company.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink


Speaking of Mike Adams, I’m getting worried about him. He’s continuing to go further and further off the deep end

That was stunningly.... insane.

Geraldo Rivera, because he Tweeted that the “second amendment is stupid.”

Rivera actually got something right?

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Happy Holidays to you, too, Orac and all the minions here and at SBM. Wishing you a fun 2016 and keep being a burr under the saddle of those who deserve it.

I must admit that I haven’t heard of many of the other “journalists” given this “honor,”

You've never heard of James O'Keefe? He's the smug scumbag that created the fabricated ACORN 'sting' videos, and inspired the similar video 'exposes' of Planned Parenthood. Poor Glenn Greenwald, stuck on a list with O'Keefe and gonzo-gun-nut Pete Santilli. Mikey sure has a rather, uhh, unique world view. make a Venn diagram of the fans of his various hero journalists, and he has to be the only human being in the overlap of all the circles.

Denice asks "WHAT audience are these guys courting?" One way to answer would be, 'people who can read that post without their head exploding from the contradictions.' To follow Denice's more specific concern, how can the 'thinking mom' anti-vaxers square themselves with the misogyny of the anti-abortion rhetoric, and the 'bring guns to school!" insanity? I can only imagine their vaccine obsessions are so singularly the focus of their attention, they just don't see the other stuff – the words go in one eye and out the other without being processed. Perhaps this is more-or-less true with devotees of Mikey's other wacky ideas: gun nuts, survivalists, pro-lifers. The one group I can't see as being so blindered is the anti-GMO folks, who would seem to be the core market of a 'Natural Foods' business. Holding to a certain level of anti-corporatism and 'the naturalistic fallacy' hardly makes one an outre obsessed lunatic... But then, the stuff Mikey sells isn't just 'organic' or 'natural', as in the consumer just posits 'i think this is safe and healthy'. They can get that at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and now even Lucky and Costco. Mikey's schtick is hyper-natural: SuperFood! It doesn't just exclude the bad stuff, it's manipulated to unlock the miracles hidden within Nature and perform magic: cure all ailments and drink from the Fountain of Youth! So maybe if you're into that deeply enough, your brain just glazes over the stuff like raves for the likes of O'Keefe and Santilli. (???)

In any event, I'd guess Mikey's rantings only function to appeal to zealots of one stripe or another, which may be only a small portion of his customer base. I wonder how many of his customers never go past the store pages to read his posts, but I'd guess it's a good sized majority...


Certainly not libertarians- with whom Mike identifies- who would probably support non-interference in personal decisions.

Actually the overlap between gibbertarians and forced birth is substantial. You have confused libertarian property rights with rights of property. A man should be able to what he wants with his property but his property does not have the right to bodily autonomy.

Incoherent babbling about initiation of force expected within the next 5 posts.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

You’ve never heard of James O’Keefe? He’s the smug scumbag that created the fabricated ACORN ‘sting’ videos, and inspired the similar video ‘exposes’ of Planned Parenthood.

Oh, that guy? I just didn't remember who did those ACORN videos.

Santilli ( and possibly a few more listed) have shows on Mikey's Talk Network.
It's like with guns.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

@ sadmar:

Both Mike and the other idiot ramp up fear of diverse natural and societal disaster and then tell followers how they can be saved through their tutelage. They has the answer.

Just like they do with fears about serious illness ( along the lines of "Your lifestyle is planting the seeds of cancer / CVD and here's how to REVERSE the trend/ cure yourself").

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

So sad to see that Professional Ignoramus Lawrence Solomon didn't make the cut. I guess it's because after his great start to 2015, his antivax advocacy fizzled out by the end of June.
Citing (no link intentionally).

Hey! Who wants Indian food? I think I might get the vegetarian thali, whatever it's called, that big plate where they bring lots of different curries and various things, naan, rice, etc. And, like, maybe some mango lassi. And ice water.

@ JP:

You should order for the rest of the minions.
Get me a Ras Malai.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Currently eating butter chicken poutine on my way to see my Canadian family.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Pretty good Indian food. We sort of ordered too much, and they took forever settling up the bill, and they wouldn't listen to me when I told them to take the leftovers and give them to somebody sleeping on the f*cking street at Christmastime, but I think I may have finally convinced them when I yelled "Thanks!" while waltzing out.


I did let them convince me to take some leftovers home for myself. The stuff I already had on my plate, basically.

NYU philosopher and anti-GMO luddite Nassim Nicholas Taleb called Attkisson’s TEDX talk on astoturfing “brilliant.” ... Sad to see a smart guy descend into conspiracy theory lunacy.

I remember Taleb started out strongly rejecting the idea that financial systems needed stronger regulations, because banks themselves were the best judges of whether a given transaction or derivative was risky -- after all, they would be the ones who would suffer if it failed. Those people who were worrying about the riskiness? What a pack of fearmongers.
Then the financial markets went all pear-shaped and Taleb suddenly was all "spotting risks in so difficult".

Really, there is a fire somewhere waiting for Taleb to die in it.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Dec 2015 #permalink

Did CBS fire that guy's ass yet for making up a bs news story?

I so thoroughly despise Mr. Adams and his ability to redirect links to his bullsh!t articles promoting how great natural news is. Thank you ORAC for attempting to circumvent the efforts of NN and assisting those of us who would like to view the offending material. The chicanery of Adams has no bound. I would like to express my hope that most Americans can see through the charade or at least the nincompoopery that is Natural News. This election cycle seems to be a good litmus test to see how well the education system in our fair country is doing. Have a great day, ORAC!

By Dr. Johnson (not verified) on 24 Dec 2015 #permalink

"FYI: Newer minions should know that clicking on Orac’s link for the ((shudder)) ‘Journalist Courage’ awards will be diverted to an article bombastically declaring Mike’s greatest achievements**."

As a very successful salesman I once worked for told me: the more you have to tell the customer how great your product is the less they believe you.

Sadmar --

You’ve never heard of James O’Keefe? He’s the smug scumbag that created the fabricated ACORN ‘sting’ videos,

You shouldn't let the generous spirit of the season temper your judgments so much. I would have used much stronger language for O'Keefe myself. :-)

By palindrom (not verified) on 25 Dec 2015 #permalink

So sad to see that Professional Ignoramus Lawrence Solomon didn’t make the cut.

Nor Rappoport.

The most idiotic award of the year was granted, oddly enough, by the Federation of German Scientists. They gifted Seralini, that old fraud, with their whistleblower prize. There goes another institution of scientists, taken over by the politicians who care only about catapulting the propaganda. No wonder people don't trust scientists anymore.

By Robert L Bell (not verified) on 25 Dec 2015 #permalink

Interestingly, both Infowars and NaturalNews recently have claimed that Seralini was vindicated in court, winning a suit because his detractor ( a Monsieur Fellous) defamed him fraudulently.

I haven't read the material in detail but I've been seeing it for about 2 weeks now.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 26 Dec 2015 #permalink

I forgot I was on the Attkisson "astroturf" list! Yay for me!

When did I ever claim to be representing a grass roots org? Or any org?

Recall that one of Attkisson's big autism/vaccine stories was the Hannah Poling settlment. Which story I broke. So, she's copying an astroturfer!

By Matt "Astrotur… (not verified) on 05 Jan 2016 #permalink