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Author Topic: "I didn't know that Bill Maher used Twitter, but I do now"  (Read 587 times)


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"I didn't know that Bill Maher used Twitter, but I do now"
« on: September 27, 2009, 08:47:40 PM »

This is only an attractor. The real stories you find there:

That is Orac! And it is "Respectful Insolence". Go there and read!

September 27, 2009
More Maher idiocy about vaccines

Category: Antivaccination lunacy • Entertainment/culture • Medicine • Quackery • Television

I didn't know that Bill Maher used Twitter, but I do now:

The original Tweet is here.

Gee, given their similar comments about flu shots being "for idiots," you don't think that Bill Maher and Doug Bremner are the same person, do you? Maybe they were separated at birth! In any case, perhaps we should see how many of us can be blocked by Maher by telling him that if you call people who get their flu shots idiots, you're the real idiot.

Here's a hint, Bill. If crackpots like those at Age of Autism love your stand on vaccines, you've gone down the same road as the Gardasil crackpots you criticize. (Of course, AoA wouldn't like Bill quite so much if they knew this.) Why was it again that you support HPV vaccination but hate flu vaccines?

Posted by Orac at 10:00 AM • 19 Comments

September 26, 2009
Are you ready for the...ultimate praying championship?

Category: Humor • Politics • Religion

Sadly, this is not too far from how religious disputes seem to be settled. The only difference is that there's less violence here than there is in real life:

Hmmm. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if religious conflicts could be resolved by an Ultimate Praying Challenger, rather than the usual way. As the reporter said, "Who's closer to God now, bitch?"

Hat tip to Stupid Evil Bastard.

Posted by Orac at 9:00 AM • 15 Comments

September 25, 2009
Oops I did it again! The 120th Meeting of the Skeptics' Circle

Category: Announcements • Blog carnivals • Skeptics' Circle

Damn them Europeans and their being five or six hours ahead! They screw me up when it comes to plugging the Skeptics' Circle. Oh, wait. This time around I'm a day late. Rats. My excuse doesn't work. Never mind...

In any case, longtime commenter at RI (who also has his own most excellent blog), Kristjan Wager has served up yet another heapin' helpin' of skepticism and critical thinking at the 120th Meeting of the Skeptics' Circle. Go. Read. Enjoy.

Then come back in two weeks to do the same for The Mad Skeptic on October 8, preferably after having submitted your own pearl of skeptical genius. Also, don't forget: There's still one more opening for a Skeptics' Circle host in 2009. It's on December 17. Let's try to get the year filled out in style.

Posted by Orac at 11:30 AM • 1 Comments
Jack's Fourth Show: How anti-vaccine groups rebrand themselves as legitimate autism charities

Category: Antivaccination lunacy • Autism • Entertainment/culture • Medicine • Music • Popular culture • Quackery

There once was a time not so long ago--oh, say, four our five years--when the anti-vaccine fringe was looked upon as what it was: a fringe group, a bunch of quacks and quack advocates, all in essence one big conspiracy theory movement, in which vaccines are the One True Cause of Autism. At the time, there were two basic flavors of this movement, the American and the British variety. The British variety began back in the 1990s, fueled by Andrew Wakefield's pseudoscience, lack of ethics, bad science, and even potentially data falsification for his original 1998 Lancet study that claimed to have linked the MMR vaccine to GI problems in autistic children. Vaccination rates plunged and measles, which was once considered largely conquered in the U.K. 14 years ago was recently declared endemic again. True, Wakefield didn't do it by himself; he had a lot of help from sensationalistic and credulous reporters and media outlets in the U.K. Even so, the British flavor of the anti-vaccine movement was all about the MMR, fueled by anti-vaccine groups like Jabs and Cry Shame.

Here in the U.S. in the late 1990s, the anti-vaccine movement took a different tack. Based on the ever-popular crank mistake of confusing correlation with causation by noting that the number of autism diagnoses started increasing in the early 1990, around the time the vaccine schedule expanded, it fixated on a single ingredient in vaccines, a preservative known as thimerosal, which contains mercury. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, even though there was no evidence linking thimerosal-containing vaccines to autism, fears over this preservative led vaccine safety authorities in this country to recommend under the precautionary principle that it be removed from childhood vaccines, which occurred near the end of 2001. Since early 2002, thimerosal has not been used as a preservative in vaccines other than the flu vaccine, and there are thimerosal-free alternatives. Several vaccines still have trace amounts of thimerosal, but overall the total exposure to thimerosal due to childhood vaccination is lower than it's been since the late 1980s. Unfortunately for anti-vaccine loons, autism rates have not decreased back to what they were in the late 1980s. In fact, they are still rising. Epidemiological refutation of a hypothesis doesn't get much more resounding than that.

Of course, there are still groups that continue to promote the discredited ideas that vaccines or mercury in vaccines causes autism. These movements, epitomized by groups like Generation Rescue, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), and Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) were quite correctly relegated to the fringe, although it is true that radio and TV shows trotted out representatives with alarming frequency for "balance" whenever a little of the old manufactroversy was needed.

Read on »

Posted by Orac at 6:00 AM • 38 Comments

September 24, 2009
A crazy mixed up kid comes up with a crazy mixed up conspiracy theory about a crazy mixed up blog collective, part 2

Category: Alternative medicine • Antivaccination lunacy • Medicine • Quackery

Yesterday, I wrote about Jake Crosby, the token college kid on the spectrum over at the happy home for wandering anti-vaccine zealots, Age of Autism. Specifically, I felt sorry for him because of his rather tortured bit of conspiracy mongering that postulated deep, dark connections between Adam Bly, the founder of Seed Media Group, the company he founded, ScienceBlogs, and multiple big pharma countries, all tied together with a breathtakingly tenuous connections all wrapped up into a big fat ball of nonsense.

Ooops. He did it again, with part 2 of Part II Seed Media's "Science"Blogs: A 180 Degree Shift in Reporting.

Since it's mostly a rehash of part one, complete with the same logical fallacies used in approximately the same proportions. It continues Jake's maddening tendency to look for superficial connections between pharma, Seed, and bloggers and concluding that any connection, no matter how minor, superficial, or tenuous must mean that they are all in cahoots, working for the evil purpose of denying The Truth about vaccines and autism. Unfortunately, it shows me that maybe I was wrong to characterize him as just a crazy, mixed up kid who's fallen in with the wrong crowd. However, the optimist in me leads me to hope that my original characterization was right.

Because there's just so much nonsense in part 2, much of it repetitive and a rehash of part 1, I'll focus on two things that Jake seems to consider to be smoking gun evidence. First, he takes a shot at my bud, skeptic extraordinaire and host of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, Steve Novella:

Read on »

Posted by Orac at 11:00 AM • 38 Comments
It's baaaacck...

Category: Announcements • Blogging • Medicine • Science

Hurt, but not defeated, the humongous giant clam....

Wait. Wrong story. Actually Science-Based Medicine is back. Finally. Go. Read. Enjoy. Particularly a bit about crank conferences.

Posted by Orac at 1:00 AM • 20 Comments
The price of anti-vaccine fanaticism, part 3

Category: Alternative medicine • Antivaccination lunacy • Autism • Medicine • Quackery

Jake's hit pieces against Seed and me reminded me of something. They reminded me of just what it is that the anti-vaccine movement promotes, and the damage that I wish Jake would wake up and realize that the organization he has associated himself with causes a great deal of harm. Part of that harm derives from its antivaccine activities, which are custom-designed to discourage parents from vaccinating with unfounded fears of vaccines causing autism. However, there is another harm that the "vaccines cause autism" movement causes that is not related to the promotion of infectious disease that results from decreasing herd immunity. Rather, it is the harm that results from the promotion of "biomedical treatments" (a.k.a. quackery) to try to "cure" autistic children.

I've written about such examples before. For instance, there was Tariq Abubakar Nadama, who died at the hands of a quack named Dr. Roy Kerry. The description of how his quackery and incompetence resulted in a "clean kill" of a five year old child is chilling indeed to behold. But that's just one example. Another chilling example is the online account of what Kent Heckenlively does to try to "cure" his daughter of autism. Not only does he subject her to all manner of blood and urine tests for various "heavy metals" and "toxins"; flit from quackery to quackery; and posting it all on Age of Autism. Perhaps the most horrific example came when Heckenlively described hitting his father up for $15,000 to travel to Costa Rica to have some quack inject "stem cells" into her cerebrospinal fluid.

Now, a guest blogger over at Autism Blog tells of another example:

Read on »

Posted by Orac at 12:00 AM • 49 Comments

September 23, 2009
A crazy mixed up kid comes up with a crazy mixed up conspiracy theory about a crazy mixed up blog collective

Category: Alternative medicine • Autism • Medicine • Quackery

That Jake Crosby, he's a crazy mixed-up kid, but I kind of like him.

He seems like a nice enough and smart enough kid, but, sadly, he's fallen in with a bad crowd over at the anti-vaccine crank propaganda blog, Age of Autism, so much so that he's even blogging there, helping, whether he realizes it or not, to promote the message that vaccines cause autism and that various forms of biomedical quackery can somehow "cure" autism. I say "whether he realizes it or not" because he seems to have settled into the role of AoA's token young adult on the spectrum who promotes the party line. Indeed, he's truly drunk the Kool Aid--big time--as I pointed out a few months ago when I noticed that he had written in my comment section in response to my observation that "no amount of science...will ever convince them [anti-vaccinationists] that vaccines don't cause autism.":
"Amount" doesn't matter. A million "studies" claiming the Earth were flat wouldn't make it true. Likewise, pseudostudies claiming no association to autism consistent with overwhelming evidence of a CDC-cover up will only further convince me that vaccines cause autism.

Read on »

Posted by Orac at 9:00 AM • 78 Comments

September 22, 2009
And Science-Based Medicine is still down...arrrrrgggh!

Category: Announcements • Blog housekeeping • Blogging • Medicine

Science-based Medicine, a place where sometimes a "friend" of mine pontificates, is temporarily down. Recently, the SBM crew moved the blog to a new server. Beginning over the last two or three weeks, the blog became buggy. Very buggy. Response times became painfully slow, and then last Friday SBM went down and stayed down nearly an entire day. Valiant efforts and arguing with the hosting company got it up and running again over the weekend, although it remained painfully slow to browse. I thought I had harkened back to those days of yore when I used to use a 9600 baud modem. Then, sometime yesterday morning SBM crashed again and stayed crashed.

It's not clear yet if it's lots of traffic and a rinky-dink hosting service. (Actually SBM doesn't--yet--garner the level of traffic that this blog does; so we're not talking Pharyngula-level traffic.) A DDoS attack is not entirely implausible, but there is no evidence that that's what it was. Of course, given the unexpectedly crappy level of technical support the previous hosting company provided (given that it had been highly recommended), we'd probably never know because the company would probably never figure it out.

Patience again. SBM is moving to another host and hopefully will be back up and running soon.

Posted by Orac at 1:05 PM • 20 Comments
CAM usage and vaccination status

Category: Alternative medicine • Antivaccination lunacy • Medicine • Quackery

I've often discussed how potentially misleading anecdotal evidence and experience can be. Indeed, I've managed to get into quite a few--shall we say?--heated discussions with a certain woo-friendly pediatrician, who, so confident in his own clinical judgment, just can't accept that his own personal clinical observations could be wrong or even horribly mislead him. Sadly, I've never managed to persuade him just how easy it is for us humans to be deceived or even to deceive ourselves.

However, just because anecdotal evidence can deceive us does not mean that it is worthless. Contrary to the straw man argument that woo-meisters like to level against skeptics, we do not claim that anecdotal evidence is "worthless." Rather, anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence. In science, it is always only a starting point, never an end, at least not if stronger forms of evidence can be generated?

So why am I beginning with this rambling introduction, other than that's the way Orac usually rolls? The reason is that it's always been my anecdotal experience that people who tend to pursue "complementary and alternative medicine" (i.e., CAM) tend also to be anti-vaccine. True, there has been evidence that, for example, chiropractors tend to be hostile to vaccination, and that only a many naturopaths are highly skeptical of pediatric vaccination. This sort of anecdotal evidence and relatively small studies led to some curiosity over whether it was really true that CAM is associated with lower rates of vaccination, which is why researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Washington and the Office of Health Services and Public Health Outcomes Research, University of Missouri decided to take a look at the question. In the process, they just published the largest series thus far to look at the relationship between pediatric vaccination and CAM usage1.

The results are, alas, not surprising.

Read on »

Posted by Orac at 9:00 AM • 63 Comments


Congrats, Orac!

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