J.B. Handley confuses mirror reflection for David Gorski

I’ve blogged about Age of Autism’s insipid attacks on their critics before. And I’ve blogged about their favorite tactic of projecting their own faults onto their critics before. And I’ve blogged about what a douchebag J.B. Handley is before in an article where I singled him out specifically as a “Master Projectionist” and which I know for a fact that he’s see since he left a comment (which I didn’t delete because I have far more intellectual integrity than Handley’s site administrators over at Age of Autism, who have never allowed a single critical comment I’ve ever made on their site no matter how polite I was). And I’ve blogged about the complete dishonesty of Age of Autism and Handley’s organization Generation Rescue with regard to the recent Desiree Jennings case.

Well, Handley’s back with a new tirade against David Gorski that makes me think he’s out to become the new Glenn Beck, titled, “Dr. David Gorski Jumps the Shark over Desiree Jennings Case.”

Now as a quick aside, being a media guy, even the title pisses me off because despite Handley’s acknowledgement of the origin of the term “jumping the shark,” he still uses it divorced from any television context. People don’t even use the term for filmmakers. Jumping the shark is a term that specifically describes an episode of a television show that definitively marks the beginning of that shows downfall. Often audiences jump the gun and declare an episode has jumped the shark (pardon the mixed metaphor) too early. For example, many people were claiming that Lost jumped the shark early in season two. But applying the term to real life just makes you look juvenile (or more so in Handley’s case). But his usage of the term also annoys me because obviously Handley has despised Gorski and his position for years, so declaring a blog that’s nothing unusual for Gorski his “jumping the shark” moment is laughable. Handley’s clearly thought every critic of his has jumped the shark years ago, so it seems as though he’s just being over-dramatic to draw in more readers because nothing has changed.

Okay, moving on. Handley then fails to get through a paragraph before harping on his personal favorite trivial fact that in addition to blogging under his own name, Gorski also blogs under a pen name, something that’s no secret to anyone who does even the slightest bit of research considering Gorski often reposts the same blog in different locations under his real name on one site and under his pen name on another. But despite this being no secret, Handley seems to never tire of trying to “out” him by revealing both identities as if he thinks this proves what a great detective he is or something or thinks that knowing this non-secret gives him some power over Gorski.

Then, for many paragraphs, Handley just flings his feces at Gorski, for instance, by calling him “the bitchy diva of Scienceblogs” (PZ Myers? PalMD? Jason Rosenhouse? Abbie Smith?). Could you be more specific, Handley? And bitchy diva? Are you sure you weren’t just looking in the mirror?

Handley next uses his second favorite tactic, scare quotes:

For those of you unfamiliar with this odious “doctor”, note that he is exceptionally proud of himself for his blogging status:

No Handley. Gorski actually is a doctor, you’re the one who just plays one on the internet.

This is followed by a long string of short, random, cut-up quotes mined from Gorski’s many blogs compiled together to create the illusion that Gorski is full of himself and his own biggest fan.

For those of you unfamiliar with this odious “doctor”, note that he is exceptionally proud of himself for his blogging status:

“As far as I’ve yet been able to ascertain, I’m the only academic surgeon with R01 funding in the world with an active — and, even more shockingly, even a somewhat popular — blog.”

He’s also very proud that he got into medical school:

“I got into the University of Michigan Medical School, which got around 3,000 applications every year for around 180 positions.”

And, that he studied like a real demon:

“So insane was I that one year I took 17 credits in the fall semester, all but 3 of which were hard-core science classes, including graduate level biochemistry, and then did the same thing again the next semester.”

And, his hobbies are quite expansive:

“My recreation of choice most evenings these days is to blog. It truly is my hobby.”

But enough on his fascinating background.

Of course, anyone who bothers to read Gorski’s blogs who doesn’t have an axe to grind will find that Handley’s quote-mining doesn’t bare any resemblance at all Gorski’s writings. And while I’m used to Handley’s other tactics, this one in particular somehow strikes me as the most despicable and dishonest. This isn’t even good by quote-mining standards. Anyone could do what Handley does to create whatever image they please of those they’re attacking. It requires no skill at all. I could collect a huge library of sentences from Handley’s many writings and cut them up to make Handley appear however I please. But I won’t because I’m not a dishonest douchebag like Handley.

This is followed by, surprise-surprise, it’s more feces-flinging:

I remain amazed by Dr. Gorski’s angry, disrespectful, biting, caustic, and immature approach that he uses in criticizing other physicians who he doesn’t agree with. You want to take a guy like me to task, no problem. But, physician to physician? It strikes me as being wildly unprofessional, particularly in an area like medicine, where so much remains that we truly do not understand.

Angry? Disrespectiful? Biting? Caustic? Immature? Pot. Kettle. Black. J.B., if you really can’t see that all of these adjectives describe the very blog in which you use them to describe Gorski, then you truly have an amazing capacity for self-deception. And which physicians are you claiming Gorski is attacking? Cause every expert in a field relevant to the Desiree Jennings case agrees with him. And really, J.B., it’s sad that Gorski should have to address the claims of someone like you. Really,  actual physicians shouldn’t have to refute the proposterous claims of scientifically illiterate clowns like yourself. In a fair fight, you’d be debating an intellectual equal like Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin.

Dr. Gorski, I know why other scientists and doctors don’t blog: they are interested in maintaining a decorum and professionalism in their chosen profession that you have long since abandoned. How does his blogging style translate to Dr. Gorski’s bedside manner with patients? Let’s just hope he has multiple personalities.

Handley, allow me to introduce you to the internet, a place where hundreds of physicians can be found blogging about all matters of topics that interest them. But if blogging is so beneath you then maybe you should give it up yourself. Maybe you should be asking how does J.B.’s blogging style translate to his personality in the real world? Let’s just hope he has multiple personalities.

Then FINALLY, Handley begins to address the actual Jennings case a good several hundred words into his short blog.

The Desiree Jennings case appears to be bringing out the absolute worst in many of the bloggers who oppose our community.

You’re tellin’ me. I even heard of this one organization called Generation Rescue who used their unofficial blog, Age of Autism, to exploit Ms. Jennings’ tragedy as part of a massive propaganda campaign to sell a whole bunch of pseudo-scientific crap to the public.

As one example, I read a post by Dr. Steven Novella where he “reported” on a string of events involving Generation Rescue and the Desiree Jennings case that had no basis in reality and was simply false. We have neurologists breaking tabloid-level stories? Dr. Novella as investigative journalist? Too funny.

Oh, there go those scare quotes again. Classic Handley. Of course Dr. Novella actually IS a neurologist and thus is exactly the kind of person whose professional opinions we should be listening to in this case. As are the neurologists and dystonia advocacy groups he consulted. But no, you think it’s hilarious that anyone should listen to actual experts when they can listen to some non-expert on the internet with a clear professional bias. This isn’t a “tabloid” story; it’s a story that is directly rooting in medical science and specifically in the field of neurology. Point me to a single expert in that field who will back up your position and provide sufficient evidence for it. Where are they, J.B.? The experts agree that not only is Ms. Jennings not suffering from dystonia at all (as your organization directly claimed), but that there’s no precedent for her symptoms ever occuring as a result of a vaccine (as your organization directly claimed).

Challenging Ms. Jennings’ original diagnosis of dystonia. Since when do doctors make long-distance video-only diagnoses?

When the symptoms don’t even come close to resembling the alleged original “diagnosis.” That’s like calling out doctors for disagreeing with a diagnosis of AIDS when the patient clearly shows only symptoms of cancer. It’s kind of a no-brainer there. But as I pointed out the last time you vultures made this complaint,

Well, not only is Generation Rescue’s unofficial blog, Age of Autism, continuing to promote the lie that Generation Rescue is still actively helping Ms. Jennings despite the fact that they have no medical resources to do so, but they have the audacity to express outrage at the medical and dystonia experts for speculating without having examined Jennings personally while they see no inconsistency in continuing themselves to wildly speculate on her condition despite their lack of medical expertise and obvious conflict of interest. Apparently, the anti-vaxxers see conflicts of interests everywhere except in their own backyards.

Oh, I forgot the most amusing part of Handley’s complaint:

Don’t these doctors realize, by offering up potentially false commentary on the nature of Ms. Jennings diagnosis in a story that has captivated the world, that they will one day be called to task for such a glaring breach of medical ethics?

No, that’s you projecting again, J.B. And captivated the world? Are you serious? Her story was covered on one Fox News show and Inside Edition. I’d bet real money that if you polled people on the street, 99 out of a 100 of them would have never even heard of Desiree Jennings. Get over yourself, Handley. The internet doesn’t have the bandwith to contain your enormous ego.

Claiming Ms. Jennings condition is all in her head.

Oh, the irony! Condemning Doctors Novella and Gorski for misrepresenting your position when you so despicably misrepresent their position.

Claiming the flu shot couldn’t possibly cause her condition. Once again, how on earth does a long-distance doctor determine this?

No doctor DID determine this as this is merely your straw man to avoid addressing their actual position:

Normally I try to refrain from making medical diagnoses in public cases – but Jennings has now inserted herself in to the anti-vaccine movement, and is using her own case to “warn about the dangers of vaccines.” To mitigate the damage to public health brought about by misinformation in this case, I think it is necessary to provide some expert opinion.

. . .

This also seems to be the consensus opinion of experts who have viewed this case. The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation had this to say about the case:

Because of the concern of individuals with dystonia as to whether or not to get a flu shot because of this reported case, we have sought the opinion of dystonia experts on this case. Based on the footage that has been shared with the public, it is their unanimous consensus that this case does not appear to be dystonia.

. . .

It is therefore highly unlikely that whatever Jennings is suffering from now had anything to do with the flu vaccine she received in August. Unfortunately, this is not stopping irresponsible news coverage or exploitation by anti-vaccinationists.

Okay, now what’s YOUR EXCUSE for passionately defending an alleged diagnosis both without personally examining Jennings and in light of your not even being a doctor?

To hell with what doctors who did examine her actually determined, we are the only arbiters of truth. It’s nuts.

That’s already your attitude about all doctors that disagree with you about vaccines (99% of all doctors in the world). But again, when the symptoms don’t even remotely resemble the alleged diagnosis, red flags are raised:

Jennings does not display the type of movements that are consistent with dystonia. Her speech and movement are, however, very suggestive of a psychogenic disorder.

This also seems to be the consensus opinion of experts who have viewed this case. The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation had this to say about the case:

Because of the concern of individuals with dystonia as to whether or not to get a flu shot because of this reported case, we have sought the opinion of dystonia experts on this case. Based on the footage that has been shared with the public, it is their unanimous consensus that this case does not appear to be dystonia.

If a doctor says their patient broke their left foot while you can clearly see them walking perfectly but with motionless right arm dangling, you don’t throw up your hands and proclaim that well, the doctor who examined them can’t be wrong…but every other doctor is the world is completely 100% wrong about the efficacy and safety of vaccines. That’s just asshole dumb.

But Handley continues:

Claiming she couldn’t possibly recover from a condition she didn’t even have.

Nope. Wrong again:

We were also careful to point out that this does not mean she is “faking”, that her symptoms are not real, and that she is not suffering from a genuine and debilitating disorder. Simply that the nature of the disorder is likely psychogenic and not due to any specific brain pathology, caused by a vaccine or anything else.

Jennings claimed, however, that her doctors at Johns Hopkins diagnosed her with dystonia and concluded it was from the vaccine. We have only her word to take for this as her doctors, understandably (given the rules of confidentiality) have not made any public statements. Jennings could give them leave to do so, but apparently hasn’t.

Then it came to light the vaccine adverse event reporting systems (VAERS) report that is likely the one Jennings made indicates from the hospital records that:

The admitting neurologist felt that there was a strong psychogenic component to the symptomology, and made a final diagnosis of weakness.

. . .

Last Friday I predicted:

Further, Jennings is now in the hands of the Generation Rescue anti-vaccine quacks. I predict that they will be able to “cure” her, because psychogenic disorders can and do spontaneously resolve. They will then claim victory for their quackery in curing a (non-existent) vaccine injury.

This is now exactly what has happened.

More unintentional irony on the part of Handley:

It’s great to watch these “doctors” dig themselves into a bigger and bigger hole. I’m not sure doctors like David Gorski realizes how silly their comments look to the average American and how much they have exposed themselves as the true story of what Desiree went through emerges.

Yes, clearly it’s the “average American” whose scientific opinions are called for here, not the opinions of experts. Forget all that complicated science. Just say things that Joe Sixpack will understand regardless of how brick stupid it is. That’s the J.B. Handley way!


6 Responses to J.B. Handley confuses mirror reflection for David Gorski

  1. han says:

    Great post. I was compelled to read J.B.’s awful post as well; his assholishness astounds me. He’s a cautionary example for us all.
    I was also bothered by the jumping the shark analogy. No only does it only apply to TV shows, but it implies that, up until the Desiree Jennings post, Orac’s blog was really good. J.B. proves himself inept not just when it comes to medical science, but also when it comes to properly insulting someone. What a maroon.

  2. Bill says:

    I’ll point out there is no evidence that she was ever diagnosed with dystonia in the first place, much less diagnosed with anything at Johns Hopkins.

    GR or AOA would happily have produced her records had any of the above been the case.

  3. […] Handley flings more feces at Alison Singer Wow, that didn’t take long. I just blasted this guy a few days ago for flinging his feces at his critics. And now he’s flinging more feces at Alison Singer, the […]

  4. […] this television media term to a serious scientific matter but I’m mainly using it to mock J.B. Handley, who recently used it in his immature attack on Dr. David Gorski. But the phrase isn’t completely out of place here as Age of Autism stepped into a bit of […]

  5. Luca says:

    I don’t know what’s funnier, a blogger blogging about a blogger’s blog, or what just happened here: a blogger blogging about a blogger blogging about a blogger’s blog. Maybe I should make a blog and pick this blog post apart in it. Just to continue the tradition.

    • mjr256 says:

      Have you been living on the moon for the past ten years? Almost as many people get their news from internet blogs than from mainstream news media. Critiquing and policing what bloggers are saying to ensure accurate information is available is a vital component to the well-being of society.

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