The anti-vaccination quacks at Age of Autism (AoA) finally decided that instead of addressing individual refutations from the bloggers coming out of the incredibly successful Scienceblogs, that they’d just launch one big ad hominem attack on the entire site. As always, don’t expect them to include any actual science in their rants. They don’t understand it and I’m sure they wish people would stop calling them out on it. So let’s get right into it, shall we.
Jake Crosby pens this first in presumably a series of blogs titled, ” ‘Science’ Blogs: Seed Media’s Aggressive Weed Part I: Fertilizer From Pharma.” Yup, they waste no time at all before throwing scare quotes around the legitimate science discussed by the many, many actual scientists at Science Blogs and applying the ever popular Big Pharma Shill Gambit, aka ad hominem attacks on all their critics’ characters (also see Scientology). This is also the first example in a blog that’s full of them of the pot calling the kettle black. As far as I can tell, AoA doesn’t have any regular writers who are actual scientists. And on the rare occasion that they repost the writing of a real scientist, it’s one that’s been discredited ages ago. Suffice it to say, beginning with the title, Crosby’s not off to a good start.
So Crosby begins by making what I can only think to call a Reverse Ad Populum Fallacy. Though it’s typical for quacks to fallaciously cite the popularity of their own nonsense as evidence for the validity of their arguments. Crosby does the opposite, trying to point to the incredible popularity of Science Blogs as a reason for the material posted on the site to be dismissed out of hand. Of course, on planet Earth, the popularity or unpopularity of any source is equally irrelavent to the validity of that source’s claims. This is where some of that REAL science comes in. You see, science is a meritocracy, not a popularity contest, whether it be among the mainstream or among a minority subculture. In science, ideas must sink or swim on their own merits. Good ideas backed by evidence are embraced while ideas lacking in sufficient evidence are discarded like used condoms.
Next, Captain Unpopular pulls out the afformentioned Big Pharma Shill Gambit:
To Seed Media Group, “science” is its gimmick, defined by corporate sponsors.
Of course, the supreme irony of the statement is that to the immediate right of it, it’s impossible to miss the BIG AD for Our Kids ASD, a major trafficker of herbal supplements. And just above it is an ad for Lee Silsby, another trifficker of alleged (but unsupported) “medications” for treating autism. Both have an obvious investment in promoting the idea that autism is the result of vaccine injury and can be treated chemically as opposed to just behaviorally. And these aren’t just random ads that individual bloggers have no control over, like when I write for Examiner.com and find out that, much to my disgust, Scientology ads have appeared next to my articles. These are the official sponsors of Age of Autism. And while it may be true that Science Blogs does indeed have sponsors, those sponsors rarely, IF EVER, are from companies that would result in a confilct of interest. For instance, I reloaded PZ Myers’ blog three times and here’s the ads I found: Richard Dawkins’ new book, Miami Valley Hospital, and Miami Valley Hospital again. And in the past, I remember PZ Myers wrote about how he was informed that an ad for the creationist-friendly Templeton Foundation appeared on his bog, suggesting that like my predicament over at Examiner.com, the individual bloggers have no control over the ads that appear on their pages, and thus are certainly not influenced by them in the least. Not like Age of Autism, which has just a few official sponsors with a direct interest in helping AoA promoting their propaganda: SafeMinds, Generation Rescue, National Autism Association, Autism Research Institute, Talk About Curing Autism. Hell, AoA even sells t-shirts!!!!
Next, the Lee Silsby shill makes a less than subtle knock at the fact that Orac chooses to use the name Orac on his Respectful Insolence blog instead of his real name. This makes Crosby maybe the hundredth critic to harp on this non-issue. Why is it a non-issue? Because Orac’s identity is far from being a well-kept secret. Hell, the guy often reuses posts from Respectful Insolence on Science Based Medicine under his real name. This non-issue only comes up with the anti-vaccinationists. I know that first-hand. The ONLY time anyone ever whined about my anonymity on this site was the quack, Rashid Buttar, during a poorly conceived 50-minute-long video response to a 2 or 3 short paragraph comment I left on his blog (none of which successfully defeated my arguments). Of course my real name is no more difficult to find than Orac’s. I’ve mentioned both my first name and my last name separately in different entries on this site. And I too sometimes repost material from this site elsewhere under my real name on sites which I’ve announced my involvement on Skepacabra. To be honest, the only reason my real identity isn’t used was because I didn’t know when I started at WordPress that my user name was going to also be my identity on the site. And by the time I found out, I was stuck with it. But maybe I should see if the option does exist to change by site identity by now.
Anyway, where was I?
SMG pretends to be a media outlet that reports science-related topics as pop culture, seeking to reach a wider, trendier audience. On its website, pretentiously obvious promotional statements are made, such as “Science affects every single person on the planet.” And “The pursuit and impact of science is borderless.” Used-car commercials have higher advertising standards. Perhaps the worst of the slogans is displayed right on the homepage of the website: “Science is culture.” Apparently, to Adam Bly, culture is business, especially since the views expressed by the 69 bloggers who post on SMG’s
“Science”Blogs are in the best interest of sponsors.
Right back at you, bud. AoA pretends to be a media outlet that reports science-related topics. On its website, obvious anti-intellectual and pseudo-scientific promotional statements are made to support their miopic worldview, such as calling parents who stand up to evil science as “Warrior Moms” or “Warrior Dads,” and giving out “Galileo Awards” to those who they feel best stuck to the scientists by promoting AoA’s ideology. Used-car commercials have higher advertising standards. Perhaps the worst of the slogans is displayed right on the homepage of the website: “Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic.” Right there in the slogan comes the unsupported claim that autism is an epidemic. Actually, it’s not unsupported. As research shows, this is factually untrue. Apparently, to Jake Crosby, epidemic is business, especially since the views expressed by 100% of the bloggers who post on AoA’s
Unscientic blog are in the best interest of sponsors.
Whereas there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of Science Blog’s slogans. Science DOES affect every single person on the planet, especially those who use the internet to blast science. And as I already pointed out, unlike with AoA, the scientists at Science Blogs have no conflict of interest with their sponsors.
The Lee Silsby shill then goes onto make infantile jabs (no pun intended) at Science Blog’s founder:
Seed Media Group, established in 2005, was born out of SEED Magazine, founded in 2001 by Adam Bly, young Canadian entrepreneur and self-proclaimed prodigy.
I guess the emphasis here is meant to be the “self-proclaimed” part. Classy. I usually only reserve the “self-proclaimed” gambit when discussing self-proclaimed psychics. I think my usage is clearly more justified.
Bly wants the world to know he served at the age of sixteen as the youngest guest researcher at the National Research Council- a Canadian government body that overseas scientific progress, studying “cell adhesion and cancer.” That, apparently, was his springboard to success.
Why wouldn’t he want to advertise that? Sounds like an impressive resume. I’ve never heard of anyone write a bio about themselves that was intended to downplay their accomplishments. But maybe that’s how they roll at Age of Aut–NOPE. I’m also curious as to why Bly’s credentials are relavent, or at least more relevant than the rest of Crosby’s worthless diatribe. It’s not like Bly is supplying the content. As Crosby himself already acknowledged the content is produced by 69 separate science writers. And most, if not all of them are ACTUAL SCIENTISTS. Why should it matter if the site’s founder has proper science credentials or if he’s just a wealthy chimp? Who cares? It’s irrelavent and does nothing but beautifully illustrate how low these clowns at AoA will go to attack their critics.
Correction, the following does a far better job at displaying how low these bastards will go:
SEED Magazine before Seed Media Group did not have such a slant. In May 2004, for example, a contributor launched an impressive, critical investigation into the controversy surrounding mercury in vaccines. The article was a thoughtful piece of investigative journalism in which public health officials declined to comment while outside researchers willingly participated. That, however, was five years ago.
It’s called PROGRESS. In 2004, while the anti-vaccinationist claims were already pretty much toast, we didn’t yet have as expansive a library of studies that directly refute every single asinine claim you guys have made. Now we do. By this logic, we should all throw out our telephones because when the invention was first introduced, the NY Times slammed it as an invasion of privacy. Unlike the brainwashed cultists at Age of Autism, the rest of us gain more knowledge as time goes by and change our minds to fit the latest data.
Crosby continues his scare quotes around science, this time in relation to PZ Myers, who is both a working, professional biologist and a science educator at a major university. All this while again, not addressing any science at all himself. I almost feel sorry for the guy. I think he actually thinks he’s a brilliant scientific mind and that this article is a serious piece of scientific criticism. Poor deluded fool.
I wonder if he thinks the late W.D. Hamilton, arguably the greatest evolutionary biologist since Charles Darwin, was an “anti-vaxer,” for saying he was 95% certain the polio vaccine in Africa caused AIDS.
THERE WE GO! Finally, a classic Argument From Authority. Crosby can’t back up his position so now he’s going to claim that because some other scientist strongly held the belief that vaccines caused AIDS (a claim that he obviously failed to empirically prove ), then that alone makes it a valid position. No Crosby. What’s true is true because it can empiracally be shown to be true, not because “super smart” people happen to believe it. This is like when Kirk Cameron joyfully cites that Isaac Newton and every other great pre-Darwin scientist were creationists. Well yeah, because they were pre-Darwin. Isaac Newton also didn’t believe in computers or the internet. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But I guess I’m not surprised that Crosby parrots HIV denier rhetoric. I’d recommend he read Abbie Smith’s ERV blog but, you know, it’s on that evil Science Blogs!!! Muhahaha!
“Autism’s False Prophets”, written by vaccine millionaire Paul Offit, was at the top of SEED’s list of “THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING BOOK RELEASES” for 2008, which provides a “Buy” link to the book’s profile on Amazon. On SEED’s list, a short review of Offit’s book stated that it is “More than a book about a disease, it is an ode to uncorrupted science and a cautionary tale that data alone is never enough.”
Yup, next it’s another Big Pharma Shill/Vaccines Are Just For Profit Gambits launched at Dr. Paul Offit even though Age of Autism has been corrected many, many times on this one. The information just seems to repeatedly go into one ear and out the other. Even more curious, however, is why Crosby seems to think Science Blogs needs to apologize for its science writers favorably reviewing a science book and for promoting a science book that makes their jobs easier? I think I’ve promoted Offit’s book on this site too. So sue me! It’s a great book. Again, if this is AoA’s standards of proof when launching serious libelous accusations of fraud and conspiracy, consider me horribly unimpressed.
An “ode to uncorrupted science?” Paul Offit wrote in a paper that a child should be able to handle 10,000 vaccines at once, and called it a “conservative estimate.” He later said to CBS reporter Sharyl Attkinson that the number is probably closer to 100,000.
It’s called a correction. I know you writers at Age of Autism don’t know what that is since you never correct any of your erroneous claims, nor even allow critical comments on your page. But some of us have the courage to actually admit our mistakes and correct them. Either way though, is it really that atrocious an error to have originally said 10,000 vaccinations and then later say it’s closer to 100,000? Either way, it doesn’t bode well for your ideology. And infectious disease doctor Mark Crislip supported that figure (Note: site temporarily down and should be up again in a day or so).
Then Crosby just launches into an elaborate conspiracy theory, which if he could prove, would result in the trial of the century. But of course he can’t prove any of it. Not one lick. He’s just got RFK Jr’s word for it, which has been shown to be worthless, such as here, here, here, here, here, and here. Again, Crosby doesn’t make any specific scientific claims because, of course, he doesn’t understand the science. He just dismisses all the studies that utterly destroy his faith-based beliefs as Big Pharma cover-ups. It only reveals his ignorance as to how the scientific process works.
I could go on to dissect the rest of Crosby’s douchebaggery but it looks like it’s just more of the Big Pharma Shill Gambit for another 80 paragraphs, so what’s the point. He makes conspiracy claims that he can’t prove so that he can avoid addressing the real science behind how we know what we know. And all it is is a projection of his own bias. It’s not Science Blogs with the conflict of interest with its advertisers but Age of Autism, which doesn’t remotely hide the fact.