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This must not come to pass: Quacks winning the Shorty Award for health

Although I have a Twitter account, I really don’t use it all that often, other than having set up an automatic feed to Tweet all my new posts for the blog. True, I do from time to time have flurries of activity (usually when I’m trapped in a particularly boring conference) or am inspired to tweak J.B. Handley or other anti-vaccine kooks when they start Tweeting nonsense, but for the most part I remain a blogging kind of a guy. One could argue whether it’s my tendency towards logorrhea on the blog rendering me incapable of hewing to the 140 character limit for Twitter, but whatever the reason I’m not that active there.

Perhaps that’s why I’m a bit late to the party and hadn’t heard of the Shorty Awards, which are apparently being awarded to Twitterers in various categories. I’m also rather late learning about just who’s running in first place in the Health Category. At the time of my writing this, it’s that über-quack of quacks, that despicable ghoul for whom there is no such thing as sinking too low in the service of promoting quackery, Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. Get a load of some of the Tweets voting for him:

Wendy Burnett I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because…he gives us the information the gov doesn’t want out

Tamara I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because…He tells No Lies

Mary Rebman I nominate @HealthRanger for a Shorty Award in #health because…he digs for the truth, doesn’t follow mainstream media

Now there’s some burning stupid!

Who’s in third place? The almost as bad Joe Mercola, who is anti-vaccine to the core, spreading anti-vaccine misinformation and outright quackery hither and yon through the blogosphere, thanks to his website. He’s number three in the voting. If either of them were to win, it would be particularly galling, given that, unlike a lot of other blog awards, there will be a Shorty Awards ceremony in New York.

Here’s a suggestion. Go over to the Shorty Awards and check out how it works. (You need a Twitter account to vote, and votes from active Twitterers count for more.) Then vote for someone other than Mercola or Adams. Right now Rachel Dunlop is in second place; she has the best chance of overtaking Adams.

There is one category where Adams and Mercola richly deserve your vote, though. Feel free to go and vote for them in the woo category. Too bad John Scudamore doesn’t Tweet, though. He’d be even more deserving of a woo award than even Adams or Mercola.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

51 replies on “This must not come to pass: Quacks winning the Shorty Award for health”

Thanks Orac, much appreciate the post.

Incidentally, there’s a sidequest or two. Check out who’s leading in “quackery”.

http://shortyawards.com/category/quackery

There’s also a sidequest to push @UbiSoft to the top of #evil, for employing Jenny McCarthy, and another to ensure @nocompulsoryvac (Meryl Dorey, Australian Vaccination network) to the top of #quack

They’re not official awards, though, unlike #health – which is real and needs @DrRachie at the top.

Twitter is a roachnest of touchie-feeley people and people who want to heal everything by communing with Gaia people who discuss the benefits of shamanism in a context not related to World of Warcraft (which might give it some credibility, oddly).
So yeah. I’m not too surprised. I’d be inclined to let them have their annoying party. It keeps them busy.

Get the Pharyngul-ites on this. They can bust any poll.

Actually they did all ready. Rachie was behind Dr. House before they got to.

Unfortunately, Rachel Dunlop is also in third place in #woo πŸ™‚

David Jones I nominate @DrRachie for a Shorty Award in #woo because…western medicine is dangerous and she promotes it.
about 15 hours ago

OH MY… medical web based popularity as substitute for actual expertise…. in Sports Illustrated, this could be listed under SIGNS of the APOCALYPSE.

but, under DARWINIAN principles, and in keeping with the spirit of the DARWIN awards, shouldnt those that seek validation of medical excellence on TWITter be allowed to do so, caveat emptor?

Obviously, where misinformed parents get misinformation from TWITter results in danger to the child (Withholding vaccines, sprinkling industrial cleaning chemicals on waffles, megavitamins, high colonic treatments, that sort of thing) This needs to be stopped.

In recognition of the need for sane voters to rise to the occasion (Massachusetts, anyone?) I guess I will bend my vow to NOT register for a TWITter account, and do so only to render a series of targeted votes for TRUTH, JUSTICE, and the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN way….

Done.

And FWIW, twitter isn’t an RSS reader and having your blog posts updated on twitter is, well, kind of spammy. Much happier following your infrequent tweets if you aren’t trying to duplicate Google Reader πŸ™‚

Pretty much every blogger I know with a blog and a Twitter account uses Twitterfeed to Tweet his or her posts. I see nothing wrong with it and plan on continuing to do it.

I nominate Health Ranger. He keeps us informed of the Dangers of te FDA’s efforts to hide the truth and drives the libtards crazy at the same time.

@Scrabcake – “Twitter is a roachnest of touchie-feeley people and people who want to heal everything by communing with Gaia people who discuss the benefits of shamanism in a context not related to World of Warcraft (which might give it some credibility, oddly).”

Much like the internet itself, or the blogosphere, this is an unfortunate situation which can only be fought by joining and diluting it with GOOD stuff, which people looking for reasonable/reasoned content can find, instead. Please keep up the great work here and elsewhere.

Because I enjoy supplying grist for mills and fuel for fires,here are a few recent gems from the treasure trove that is NaturalNews:1/20- Swine Flu Hoax Falls Apart;1/20-Healing Cancer Naturally(with Charlotte Gerson);1/19-Chorophyll Blocks Absorbtion of Toxic Carcinogens;1/18- a shameless plea for votes;1/18-Review of the Health Ranger’s Predictions from 2008; various rants about BPA & the FDA…..(Although I vaguely suspect that Adams isn’t popular because of his *writing* but because he is somehow considered “hot” by over-sheltered young women- and Twitter does after all, measure hotness)

Let us all now throw up
our hands in despair, and realize that numbskulled borons1 like Adams and Mercola need each other, and the self-affirmation that comes from having people on the internet tell them they’re so far off the mark they haven’t even gotten to wrong yet. Like the thick skinned masochist, a beating now and again serves to remind them that they are indeed alive. Personally, I don’t use twitter and don’t want to. (I do not begrudge others using it, it’s just not something I fancy spending time doing.)

1) A boron is a sub-intellectual particle which is both boring and moronic.

All of the voting in this contest is on Twitter and therefore public, of course, so some of us have been digging into the votes that Mike Adams has been getting. We’ve found a large number of accounts like this:

http://twitter.com/demisunnywriter
http://twitter.com/leonsr2010
http://twitter.com/clementrhein
http://twitter.com/ronbos61
http://twitter.com/rx4citizen
http://twitter.com/bacilinum

…where clearly the ONLY purpose for that Twitter account is to vote for Mike Adams. I estimate that 10% to 20% of his vote total consists of accounts like this.

Fortunately there are (quite reasonably) rules against this. I encourage people to write to [email protected] and point out that they should remove these votes from the total before the nominations are over.

The good news is the votes aren’t the only thing that determines the winner. There’s a panel of judges too. But if he doesn’t win, I predict Mike Adams will accuse the awards committee of collusion with Big Pharma to suppress his votes.

Welcome to the new “American Health Idol!” Vote just like they do on television! (Only you’re much more sophisticated than those rubes on TV. You’re using Twitter!)

And bless Mercola, et al, for showing us the true path to immortality lies in Vitamin D supplements!
————————————————

Those of you who bravely seek to counter these idiocies are, sadly, underestimating the sheer volume available. Soldier on.

Don’t knock Vitamin D. It is good for many things – including breast cancer.

Natural News Nut

I’m not knocking Vitamin D. I’m knocking the claim that it can cure or prevent nearly all disease that ails us.

re: Mercola

Check out his latest “article” – available on his website mercola.com and his facebook page. It’s part 1 of a 4 part series on medical predictions he’s made that (alas!)have come true. It’s nauseating. His fans just eat it up, including his recent declaration that baking soda cures cancer. Of course, being on big pharma’s pay roll I’m enraged that this secret is out.

Apparently if you retweet someone’s vote for Adams or Mercola in #quackery, it adds a quackery vote for the person you’re retweeting. Hope the Shorties will clean that up

All of the voting in this contest is on Twitter and therefore public, of course, so some of us have been digging into the votes that Mike Adams has been getting. We’ve found a large number of accounts like this:

Clearly a Machiavellian Big Pharma ploy to give the illusion of Mike Adams and/or his fanbois intentionally fiddling the system, thereby bringing them into some disrepute.

(Well, okay; more disrepute.)

Do be careful responding to tweets or retweeting votes.

If it has a category hashtag (like “#health”) and someone’s @ name in it (like @HealthRanger) it can count as a vote. Orac himself just accidentally voted for Mike Adams by replying to someone else’s vote.

Also, note that these are just nominations, not the final vote. The top 5 nominees go on to the next phase. Now that we have @DrRachie way out in front of Adams, perhaps we should vote someone else up as well so that Joe Mercola falls out of the top 5?

They’re on to us! Just checked out “comments” on NaturalNews,”N.Nelson” asks the faithful to vote for Mikey as the “vaccine pushers”(sic) are wrecking it! Seriously though, this may be a way to influence the unfortunately woo-deluded: woo-ful websites are often heavily censored ( e.g. anti-vax, HIV/AIDS denialism) while comments on this vote-site and YouTube aren’t.I don’t tweet, but if I did, I might vote for Mike as “woo” because “I wouldn’t take health advice from someone who publishes his height, weight, & blood chemistry (@ HealthRanger Bio) but not his educational qualifications”.

@Tim Farley – how about KevinMD? (can’t access twitter at work so I have no idea if he’s even in the running)

You don’t need Twitter to look at the rankings, they are over on the Shorty Awards site here: http://shortyawards.com/category/health

You do need a Twitter account to vote. Don’t bother creating one just to vote, that violates the rules and we don’t want to be caught stooping to the same level as Mike Adams’ people. Interestingly, it appears you CAN nominate multiple people in the same category and both votes still count.

Among the other skeptics that have been nominated already and could be boosted are:

Scott Gavura: http://shortyawards.com/PharmacistScott
Peter Bowditch: http://shortyawards.com/RatbagsDotCom

Others that aren’t explicitly skeptics but seem reasonable to boost over Mercola are:

http://shortyawards.com/kevinmd
http://shortyawards.com/tudiabetes
http://shortyawards.com/rhrealitycheck
http://shortyawards.com/PPact

Looking at the other categories, I can’t help but wonder how prestigious would it actually be to be the winner of this award… I mean, the current 1st place for “news”, by a wide margin, belongs to a group who uses Twitter to help drivers (who are presumably drunk) to avoid police breath-testing stations. The first place in “customerservice” is Neil Gaiman – who, while a really nice bloke, doesn’t really do what I would call “customer service”.

Incidentally, Brazil seems to be over-represented in many categories. Is Twitter the next Orkut?

All of the voting in this contest is on Twitter and therefore public, of course, so some of us have been digging into the votes that Mike Adams has been getting. We’ve found a large number of accounts like this:

[…]

..where clearly the ONLY purpose for that Twitter account is to vote for Mike Adams. I estimate that 10% to 20% of his vote total consists of accounts like this.

Document it! This needs to be out in the blogosphere and documented.

Why should you feel like you have to ‘bust a poll’? If that is what you do, then you are all liars. All the polls you win on are a lie, all the polls you lose on are a lie, everything is a lie…maybe I shouldnt listen to any of you liars ever again. You wonder why people dont listen to doctors, or ‘health rangers’, or scientists anymore. Nobody is honest anymore! It seems like every paper published has its own little lies in there. ALL of you!… you, Mercola, and Adams are all the same! You all should be ashamed. No sense to comment back, you are shamed no matter how you try to justify.

What the hell are you raving about? No one here is doing anything but voting for someone they feel is worthy of the award.

33 that’s a lie… Your whole intent was to stop someone else from winning. That is purposely sabotaging a poll… in other words, lying!
34 just dumb… but maybe that makes you feel better about yourself. sorry, cant help you.
I used to vote for this blog, but now I see it is mostly a fake just like the rest. Wont be back.
Sagol

Update: While Dr.Rachie continues to lead, a quick scan of recent(past 12 hours)voting activity reveals that the health#:woo# & quackery# ratio has (unfortunately) risen.We CAN do better!(Remember,Mikey *is* #1 in woo,quackery, and braggadocio)

I used to vote for this blog, but now I see it is mostly a fake just like the rest. Wont be back.

Don’t let the Internet door hit you on the tuchas on the way out. You’ve contributed absolutely nothing except whining and concern trolling. In fact, your “contribution” has been negative.

I stand by my assessment in comment #34.

If you think encouraging people to vote in a Twitter poll is the ethical equivalent of providing false and potentially dangerous health advice based on unsound science and conspiracy-mongering (the clear implication of “you, Mercola, and Adams are all the same”), then you’re a friggin’ idiot.

Oooh, that did make me feel better about myself!

I nominated Steve Novella. I may as well use my twitter account to do something other than talk about what I ate for lunch every once in a while. πŸ™‚

Hey, Jenny McCarthy has vaulted into third place in the “woo” category (she’s also third in “evil”).

Definitely third-rate.

Update on the ballot stuffing issue:

Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer), Travis Roy (@Sc00ter) and myself (@krelnik) have all received emails today from the officials of the Shorty Awards indicating that they are investigating the votes for Mike Adams (@HealthRanger) for irregularities.

Specifically they said, “We’ve logged this issue and our team will look into it shortly. Please let us know if you see anything else fishy.”

You can report other irregularities by emailing [email protected].

Moron Adams**:As if his usual swill isn’t woo-ful enough, today(1/22) Mikey embraces his inner HIV/AIDS denialist and shills “House of Numbers”,the so-called “documentary” about HIV/AIDS as hoax(sic).**(Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Another update, it appears the Shorty Awards have taken quick and decisive action based on those emails earlier today.

Mike Adams is GONE from the rankings! This page, which used to show his vote totals, now returns a 404 not found error: http://shortyawards.com/HealthRanger

Joe Mercola is now number 2, far behind Dr. Rachael Dunlop. Can’t wait to hear the conspiracy theory ravings that will come out of Mike Adams’ camp because of this.

We should see about boosting some other folks up to get Mercola out of the top 5 now.

That didn’t take long, now did it?

Aside from that raving blog post, Adams is also threatening the founders of the Shorty Awards with a lawsuit: http://twitter.com/HealthRanger/status/8091367980

You may not be able to see it if you don’t register on his site, but down at the bottom of that news story linked above by Peapoh, he encourages all his readers to now vote for Mercola. Here’s the thing: if the same sock-puppet accounts vote for Mercola then the Shortys will have to delete his entry too. This of course will just feed Mike Adams’ delusional conspiracy theory ravings.

I love that he claims there is no evidence of vote fraud when we posted the evidence publicly on Twitter for all to see. Here is some of it:

http://twitter.com/krelnik/status/7947687459
http://twitter.com/krelnik/status/7992254370
http://twitter.com/TheMadSkeptic/status/7994912295

I also dearly love that he accuses the voters of DrRachie of not knowing what they were voting for, when many of his voters didn’t give a reason for their vote. He also accuses DrRachie’s voters for making rude comments about him, when his own voters were doing that about DrRachie late in the process.

“In addition, the Shorty Awards, by refusing to police its own contests, actually encourages false and defamatory campaigning while ignoring legitimate complaints of vote fraud.”

This is rich. Somehow, the identical-text, back-to-back votes from “karenh” and “Karen H” caught my attention in the first place.

@ Tim Farley: Brilliant work!1.They started talking conspiracy a few days ago (see my comment above @26 and some voters mentioning “vaccine pushers”) 2. Adams’ article today (“vote fraud”- sic) cites “a million readers”- pity they didn’t show up.

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