Even after over three years at this, I still find it amazing that as many people read my verbal meanderings as in fact do. In fact, I still can’t believe that I’m one of the more popular medical bloggers out there. True, I’ll probably never approach the traffic and readership of the huge political blogs or of our very own P.Z. Myers (who has at least ten times my traffic), but I appear to have become a fixture in the medical and scientific blogosphere.
Even more amazingly (to me, at least), I appear to have developed a bit of influence. I know it’s hard to believe, but I was forced to accept it recently. For example, first I did a post criticizing Medscape for publishing a post about Gardasil that credulously quoted a germ theory denialist and spread antivaccination myths. Not long after, Medscape eliminated the article. True, Medscape replaced it with an article that was arguably as bad in some ways, but apparently a remonstration from li’l ol’ me embarrassed Medscape sufficiently to react. Then later, after I criticized the antivaccine clowns at Age of Autism for “outing” one of my readers who comments under a pseudonym (an “outing” that wasn’t a simple matter to accomplish), AoA actually wrote not one but two posts, one with the lamest justification for a vindictive “outing” of a pseudonymous blogger I’ve ever seen plus the usual predictable reposting of a rant “outing” me yet again. (AoA almost never reacts to criticism; to rate two responses, one a direct attack, tells me I hit a major nerve. Good.) Finally, earlier this week, I wrote a post blasting ABC News for giving voice to a woman who chose quackery over scientific medicine by giving her a blog on its news site. I considered such a move to be extremely irresponsible in that it could influence cancer patients to think that her quackery was working.
Now, I don’t know if it was me primarily responsible for this (several commenters were highly critical, although most were totally supportive) or whether readers wrote to ABC News to complain, but what I do know is that the blog appeared one week ago; I wrote about it four days later, and less than two days after that the blog was gone. Coincidence? Possibly. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation. But I like to think I had something to do with it.
If that’s the case, between ABC News and Medscape, I’d better be careful. All that influence might go to my head, and it’s obvious that my ego wasn’t exactly undernourished to begin with. I might even start to think I’m PZ or something. Don’t worry, though. You’re unlikely ever to seem me sending my ravening mini-horde off to crash, pillage, and plunder Internet polls. (I’d definitely have to concentrate on smaller polls; if there’s one thing that would be really embarrassing it would be to send off a mini-horde and fail to affect the poll.) I also promise you’ll never, ever see me desecrating a consecrated Catholic host just to make a point about…well, I’m still not sure exactly what he was trying to accomplish; I just know it struck me as pointless and that it made a whole lot of people mad for no real gain that I could detect. Most importantly, I promise never to grow a beard. (I risk divorce if I ever do that.) I will, however, continue to spread the message of scientific medicine, skepticism, and critical thinking for the foreseeable future.
And if it has an effect where an effect is required, so much the better.