J.B. Handley surprisingly adheres to letter of promise, though not really the spirit of it

April 29, 2011

As I reported two days ago, the blogger previously known only as Sullivan has revealed himself to be none other than Matt Carey, an industrial researcher in computer hardware who himself has an autistic child. And this bit of news was very unfortunate for professional reality denier J.B. Handley, who vowed several months ago that if Sullivan was revealed to be someone other than Bonnie Offit, he would–well, here’s how he put it [emphasis mine]:

Bonnie Offit, or Sullivan for that matter, I have a simple offer: If you can produce a dad with a child with autism with a remarkable grasp of the medical and scientific literature who blogs under the name Sullivan, a man who has an inordinate grasp of the details of your husband’s patents, lawsuits, published studies, and web habits, I will make sure that the pauloffit.com website is given to you and your husband for good.

In fact, if you can produce this father, I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.

I’m waiting, Bonnie, and I have a funny feeling I will be waiting a very long time.

That very long time was five months and indeed, now that father has been produced. Now two days ago, I joined my fellow skeptical bloggers in speculating that Handley would backpedal and make excuses why he would not carry out his end of his “offer.” But to our collective surprise, Handley actually seems willing to follow through. . .to a point:

In a previous post, I speculated that Sullivan was actually Bonnie Offit, wife of a not-to-be-mentioned vaccine millionaire. Mr. Carey’s personal outing of himself renders my speculation incorrect. As many ravenous members of the dark side I’m sure have mentioned, I also made a simple promise that if Sullivan was NOT Bonnie Offit, I would not utter said name of said leader of the Dark Side. I also offered to give up the website http://www.pauloffit.com Apparently, Mr. Carey is a parent of a child with autism. Matt, if you’re reading this, note that I really have no interest in writing about or attacking other parents, and you can expect similar treatment. My enemies are the AAP, CDC, and the vaccine makers themselves, as well as their well-paid minions. Since you don’t appear to be in any of those camps and have a kid just like me, I don’t have the heart.

So he has agreed to give up the domain http://www.pauloffit.com and is no longer referring to Offit by name. But that wasn’t really the deal now was it. Handley said:  “I promise to never, ever publicly write about or utter the name “Paul Offit” again.” Not using his name was only the second condition; the first was to no longer write about him. Now it remains to be seen whether he’ll carry out that first condition from here on out, but if his childish concession is just going to be referring to Offit by thinly veiled hateful epithets to further vilify him, then I’d say that not only is he not carrying out his promise but he’s behaving even more despicably than before.

Now Handley is perfectly free to go on living in his delusional, black and white fantasy world where every reputable health organization on planet Earth is an agent of the “Dark Side” that’s out to get us but this sort of dehumanizing rhetoric has serious consequences.

I always like to put to conspiracy theorists the challenge to actually kill or capture the specific people they claim to be absolutely certain are really secretly ruling the world and destroying lives because I’m confident that they lack the courage of their convictions. But all it takes is just one crazed fanatic Age of Autism reader to take Handley’s hyperbolic rhetoric deadly seriously, and we could potentially have another Timothy McVeigh or Jared Lee Loughner on our hands. Now I’m not trying to suggest that a hyperbolic rhetoric can turn a perfectly sane individual into a psychotic killer or that the person who unintentionally sets off such a maniac is to blame for their actions. But nevertheless there are people out there who are already wound up and just need a trigger to set them off like a powder keg, and because we know those people are out there, it’s prudent to show a little integrity and self restraint by easing back on the dehumanizing rhetoric.

I’ll even admit to going too far in my own rhetoric from time to time, but I try to avoid it. Listen, whatever Handley thinks about me and the rest of his critics, I don’t believe he or any other anti-vaccinationists are agents of the “Dark Side” or are deliberately endangering the lives of children. I do, however, think that they’ve been misled into embracing an ideology and have formed an unhealthy emotional attachment to certain belief that runs contrary to the scientific facts and which has led them down a path that is unintentionally killing kids. I do not think Handley is Darth Vader or Voldemort or any other name associated with the epitome of evil.

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The Value of Vaccines | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

April 29, 2011

Derren Brown exposes the faith healers by inventing his own

April 28, 2011

The fall of SETI

April 28, 2011

It is the end of an era. The U.S. government is retiring its space shuttle program and now due to a lack of funds, SETI, the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is being forced to mothball their Allen Telescope Array, a group of 42 radio dishes in northern California. This is a great loss as SETI remains arguably the most likely means of us making contact with intelligent life elsewhere in the universe

If you wish to donate to this important organization, visit their donation page.

Perhaps no one is better at conveying the importance of this endeavor better than Carl Sagan, the author who gave us the SETI-centered novel Contact:

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Chris Mooney disucsses conspiracy theories that won’t die

April 28, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Chris Mooney disucsses conspiracy theories that…, posted with vodpod

News From Around The Blogosphere 4.27.11

April 28, 2011

1. Borg-like eye-tracking mini display gives wearer Terminator vision – The really geeky-looking monocle overlays digital information on top of what you normally see in front of you. The downside is that it also gives wearers a unceasing compulsion to track down and kill anyone named Sarah Connor and that the article makes not a single reference to the Geordi LaForge visor.

2. Bogus colic relief treatment sold to children – The company Brauer is selling homeopathic “medicine” as a treatment against colic in children. This is repulsive and shows that, as PZ Myers says in the link above, “Brauer profits off the pain of children, and offers nothing in return.”

3. NJ maintains low vaccination levels -Last year it was reported that  my home state of New Jersey had the sixth lowest vaccination rate in the country. Incidentally, New Jersey was also number one in autism (you do the math). While I don’t know where the state falls on the national scale now, a new report shows that Jersey’s vaccination rates remain embarrassingly and shamefully low:

67 percent of New Jersey children ages 19 to 35 months have received the recommended vaccine doses compared to the national average of approximately 70 percent, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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Jake Crosby once again unintentionally convicts himself of having a conflict of interest

April 28, 2011

Jake Crosby is at it again with more 6000-degrees of separation conspiracies – If I were as childish as the folks over at Age of Autism, I might dub this kid Joke Crosby…but I’m classy and stuff. Crosby reiterates his last alleged conflict of interest:

The saga of Seth Mnookin and his uncle, Robert Mnookin just gets weirder and weirder. First it has been revealed that Robert Mnookin is close colleagues with Linda Singer – the mother-in-law of pharma-funded wife, Alison Singer – and Michael Lewis, who sits on the board of her fake autism charity/pharma front group, “Autism Science Foundation.”

Got that straight? Seth Mnookin’s uncle works with the mother-in-law of Alison Singer (who I get a funny feeling young Jake is not a fan off – what he has against warrior moms with autistic children, I have no idea). This to him constitutes a conflict of interest. On what grounds? Beats the fuck out of me!

I recently learned that I’m distantly related on my uncle’s side to Jonathan Ames, the writer and producer of the HBO series Bored To Death. And while I met his parents once now, I’ve never so much as been in the same room as Mr. Ames. And yet young Jake, who apparently isn’t aware that everyone in the world is connected by a few degrees, is convinced such a tenuous connection is “weird” and “bizarre”, as well as significant enough to completely ignore Mnookin’s actual facts and arguments.

His latest amazingly “bizarre” connection is that the author of the recent NY Times article that positively quoted Mnookin also “gushed” about his uncle in a news story from a whopping six years ago.  Come to think of it, I’ve noticed a lot of writers consistently write negatively of Charles Manson. Weird! Bizarre! It must be an evil plot. What other possibility could there be? Also Jake Crosby has in dozens of articles “gushed” over Andrew Wakefield. Bizarre. I think Jake would agree that that proves overwhelmingly that he is part of a conspiracy. Seriously though, this level of deluded McCarthyism is getting truly pathetic. Here is an article that lays out the grounds for what is considered an unhealthy relationship in the real world.

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