Yesterday, I wrote a lengthy response to Age of Autism’s Jake Crosby’s hit piece against Scienceblogs.com. It was apparently the first part in a series, and today he published the second part, Part II Seed Media’s “Science” Blogs: A 180 Degree Shift in Reporting. I don’t plan to spend nearly as much time on this one, since it just builds on the false premises established in the first part, I wasted way more time on the first part than it deserved, and since PalMD of Science Blogs did such a fantastic job of dismantling the false premises of the first part as well.
Anyway, let’s get started. Once again, Crosby sinks himself with the title, and it just goes downhill from there. He’s still using the scare quotes around “science” in Science Blogs, which he’s overusing with the passion of a true fanatic. I think PalMD said it best:
I like scare quotes; they are great for making subtle points about “experts” like Jake Crosby, the author of the piece. But this idiot abuses scare quotes so often as to render them meaningless. Look, if your view of reality requires to place everyone else’s ideas in scare quotes, perhaps you are the problem.
Then the other atrocious part of Captain Scare Quotes’ title is the main premise of this whole section, his warped view that science changing its mind based on new evidence is somehow akin to political flip-flopping.
No Crosby, as I said in my previous response:
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.
And if I can add to what I wrote yesterday to specifically address Crosby’s 180 Degree Shift in Reporting, if we follow Crosby’s logic to its inevitable conclusion, then the NY Times has also shifted its reporting about telephones 180 degrees since the early days of the telephone, so therefore it must be a conspiracy. I really wish this example could be read as a straw man against Crosby’s argument but no, that’s his actual argument, the main argument of this whole section, that scientists or media can only change their positions on things if it’s a conspiracy.
Sure, he also continues to make false and libelous claims about his alleged “conflict of interest” at Science Blogs because they have ads, again while ads promoting products that benefit from Age of Autism’s specific agenda can be seen plain as day just to the right of Crosby’s piece.
Further, PalMD explained in his response how the Science Blogs ad system REALLY works:
In case you didn’t know, Science Blogs is owned by a company called Seed Media Group. They invite bloggers, host them, give them tech support, and use their blogs to post ad content. And that’s it. Bloggers are offered small compensation based on blog hits, but for most bloggers, this ads up to very little. Blog content is independent in every way but one: blogging is by invitation only. Once you’re here, you can write whatever you want.
But conspiracy theorists are likely to be unimpressed by this. Seed’s ads are everything from major corporate sponsors to google adsense garbage that sometimes turns out ads for fake cancer cures and chelation therapy, but in the eyes of some, anyone who blogs here must be in the thrall some sponsor or other. This is of course impossible, given that the sponsors often offer contradictory services (Merck ads, anti-vaccine ads, etc). I have not infrequently had in depth and sometimes heated discussions with my fellow bloggers about various ads and whether and how they reflect on our images as individual bloggers.
The peace I’ve come to is this: to provide me with a place to blog, Seed needs advertisers. Despite this, they do not pressure me to write favorable pieces. There was a MasterCard ad up earlier today, and if I decided to slam the immoral usurious practices of the credit card companies, no one from Seed would say a word to me.
That utterly destroys Crosby’s whole secondary argument, the classic Big Pharma Shill Gambit. That’s about it. Crosby’s arguments are toast, his lies transparent and easily proven false. There’s no conflict of interest concerning the ad content on Science Blogs like there is over at Age of Autism. There’s no censoring of material that paints advertisers in a negative light. And the mere fact that at one time back in 2004 Science Blogs published a single article that Crosby feels supports his views and since then hasn’t is neither evidence of conspiracy nor a sudden 180 degree shift in viewpoint. It’s merely consistently keeping up with where the science is at the time. This is no less idiotic than insisting historians have taken a radical 180 degree shift because they once recognized East and West Germany as two separate counties and don’t anymore.
Oh, and then of course there’s Crosby’s HIV denialism, which he hinted at yesterday but now fully exposes while ironically trying to argue that not all anti-vaccinationists should be lumped in with pseudo-scientific cranks:
So anyone who shares an opinion even remotely similar to Jenny McCarthy on “Science”Blogs is quickly lumped in with freaks and AIDS deniers (ironic, since AIDS was probably caused by vaccines), despite never mentioning autism and only implicating one adjuvant, not vaccines in general. He would also be on the receiving end of the “anti-vax” gambit.
Yes, and you just refuted your own argument with that silly parentheses. Good job.
Oh, and then he pulls the old Ben Stein Expelled Gambit:
But that is not all. If the person himself posts for “Science”Blogs and voices criticism of a deadly neurotoxin present in vaccines without even mentioning autism, he gets the boot. That is exactly what happened to Bert Ehgartner. According to German “Science”Blogger, Christian Reinboth, the day after Ehgartner’s last post, “Aluminum – Die Evidenz” – “Ehrgartner has been fired from ScienceBlogs already due to the outrage over his aluminum article.”
As I understand it, Ehgartner got “the boot,” as you call it, because he was using his status as a blogger for Science Blogs to actively promote misinformation, not because he voiced criticism that went against some party line. Anyone who spends any time on Science Blogs sees legitimate disagreement among fellow Science Bloggers on a semi-regular basis. Case in point, when Orac criticized Atheist Alliance International for honoring Bill Maher with their Richard Dawkins Award, several Science Bloggers such as PZ Myers and Jason Rosenhouse strongly disagreed. They then proceded to have a civil debate about the subject. Nobody got fired and all parties are still highly respected members of the Science Blog team. Whereas there was considerable outrage over Ehgartner’s article and it threatened to hurt the credibility of the entire site (something you, my dear Crosby have no chance of doing). So you’re just cherry-picking your examples to create the illusion of censorship where none exists. Besides, Ehgartner was given a huge audience at Science Blogs, so it’s not hard to imagine he took a lot of that audience with him to some other blog. It’s hard to censor someone’s voice on the internet.
But let’s answer Crosby’s original question at the top of his hit piece: “are there any posts that are actually critical of the drug industry?” And I’ll add AFTER 2004, since according to Captain LiesAlot, they haven’t.
The answer is YES and YES. Those seem pretty frakkin critical of the pharmaceutical companies to me. You’re done Crosby. You’re dishonesty has been exposed. Your anti-scientific agenda has been exposed. Your conflict of interest has been exposed. And you still haven’t once addressed a single scientific fact that disagrees with you because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
UPDATE 9.24.09 – Steve Novella has responded to Crosby here and Orac has now responded to his second part here.