In which Orac basks in the adoration of an antivaccine fan…

I’m sometimes asked why I do this. Why, people ask me, do I spend so much time generating post after post after post day after day after day? Obviously, one reason is that it interests me. Another reason is the passion that drives me to support science and science-based medicine and to detest the damage the pseudoscience, particularly pseudoscience in medicine, can do. There is, however, at least one more reason.

I’m referring, of course, to the adoration of my “fans.”

Yes, the more I’m attacked, the more I know I’ve been effective against the forces of irrationality and pseudoscience. When someone like, say, J.B. Handley of the antivaccine crank organization Generation Rescue attacks me, I know I’ve hit a nerve. True, there is the problem that the forces of pseudoscience and quackery all too often prefer to attack through proxies; i.e., trying to get their enemies fired by harassing them at work. Be that as it may, there is no sweeter music than the outraged howls of a quack whose quackery has been punctured by the lance of reason, with the possible exception of Led Zeppelin.

It’s even better when the quackery supporter in question is from a famous, high profile repository of woo, and the other day I hit the motherlode. Well, not quite. It wasn’t, and it wasn’t No, it wasn’t either (although I have achieved the “honor” of having a page on devoted to me.) It wasn’t even Age of Autism (although I must really be falling down on the job; AoA hasn’t mentioned me in quite a while). No, in some ways it’s better. I’ve managed to annoy a blogger whose posts show up both on that all-purpose crank, Lew Rockwell, and–even better, Prison Planet, the all purpose conspiracy theory website. It’s a hilarious post by someone named Karen De Coster entitled The Vaccination Nation Aggressors Are the Neocons of the Health World. (Here’s the Prison Planet version and the version posted on De Coster’s very own personal blog.) At least now I know what the comment thread after that nine month old post started perking up again with antivaccinationists taking me to task.

And so it begins:

This imbecilic article, written by some unknown, crazed Vaccination Nation aggressor, was posted on my Facebook page, and it’s only worth my comment because it is … so utterly impotent. I don’t even care about the homeopathic nut who is the subject of the rant, or the unnamed author who can’t take on hard science, but instead, picks out the outlier dolts as a focus of his deranged attacks.

Note that the writer is named “Orac.” Really? Orac? And this moron is so unconvinced of his own trash writing that he can’t even put his name to the crap he writes, and this is supposed to be taken seriously? Apparently, some people who parrot this tripe just like to see their own opinions in print, no matter what the source. My real name, my biography, where I live, and my job/career are clearly conveyed along with every single thing I publish.

I’m supposed to be impressed with this? My real name is posted on many of my posts, and it takes very little effort to find out who I am even here. This De Coster character cracks me up. She seems to think that using a pseudonym somehow invalidates everything I write. Of course, as I’ve pointed out before, one thing about blogging under a pseudonym is that it means that my arguments have to stand or fall on their own. I can’t rely on any reputation I have other than what I’ve built under this pseudonym, and I don’t need to point to my qualifications as a physician and a scientist. In fact, my use of a pseudonym is not to me a sign of weakness but a device that forces my arguments to stand or fall on their own.

As always, I consider criticisms based on the use of a pseudonym to be very silly indeed. Even sillier is bragging about how you use your real name on “every single thing I publish.” In fact, it amuses the heck out of me to the point that I suggest that De Coster adopt a pseudonym. She’s making herself look like a fool with this post. Actually, she made herself look like a fool on her Facebook page, where she posted a rant about vaccinations from that font of all quackery,, after which someone actually posted a link to this post by me.

The post that set De Coster off is the story of a German homeopath trying to run a “study” that I had, I must admit, a great deal of fun deconstructing. It’s basically a worthless Internet survey, completely unscientific to the point of sheer risibility. (Certainly it made me laugh at the time.) I explained why in my usual painstaking detail That De Coster apparently thinks it is evidence of anything other than how little homeopaths understand science just goes to show that she doesn’t understand anything about science either. Of course, that is painfully obvious from a quick perusal of her blog, her website, and her Facebook page. She actually believes that this homeopath Andreas Bachmair has produced evidence that vaccines don’t work. I kid you not. The best that she can come up with is this:

Now, back to the article. I love how the tediously conventional, pro-state vaccination nation mongers in the mainstream media deem individual thinkers and dissenters of the non-scientific, vaccine-pushing, Big Pharma state to be “anti-vaccine” and … “alternative medicine quackery.” Can they get any more idiotic than this? Oh, and those folks of choice who own their bodies and make decisions regarding their bodies are deemed to be “anti-vaccine loons” because they they don’t want their healthy body, or the healthy bodies of their loved ones, to be stuffed with the government-patented, high-profit, untested, unproven, toxin-loaded drugs of the Big Government-Big Pharma, corporate-state regime? How dare they!

Ah, yes. I bask in the adoration of my fans! Or, in this case, fan. Could there be anything more antivaccine canards and quack apologia packed into a single relatively short paragraph? The stupid, it burns. It burns brightly. Or, maybe not so brightly, given that it’s a black hole of stupid. And, yes, De Coster is an antivaccine loon. Big time. All it takes is a brief perusal of her Facebook page to realize this. Then, of course, there’s the ever-popular “health freedom” straw man, in which those who defend vaccination are portrayed as fascists who want to force them to inject poisons into their bodies. Of course, the problem is that people like De Coster spread the purest misinformation and pseudoscience. Indeed, if you want to see the depths of De Coster’s ignorance, just check out the black-and-white thinking in this particular picture she shared on her Facebook page:


It takes black and white thinking (i.e., believing that vaccines must be 100% effective) coupled with a gross misunderstanding of herd immunity to ask such a question. It really does. Then, in the comments, one person takes De Coster to task for her antivaccine pseudoscience, and the retort is to call those who accept the science of vaccination “fucking retards and mindless automatons” (direct quote) and how “people love to be slaves.” Meanwhile, back in her article, De Coster winds up with a line that made me laugh out loud:

Looking at this article, is anything more funny than attacking “alternative medicine?” Really? The definition of alternative is “something available as another opportunity,” or “choice,” or “behavior that is considered unconventional and is often seen as a challenge to traditional norms.” And the problem with that is…? The problem is that the pushers of collective thinking can’t stand a dissident outlier.

If “dissident outlier” equals “anti-science loon” (which it does in the case of Ms. De Coster), then the answer is yes. I can’t stand anti-science, anti-vaccine loons. Here’s a hint: There’s a difference between “thinking for yourself” and mindlessly swallowing and regurgitating easily refuted antivaccine tropes and portraying yourself as a brave champion of freedom. The former is to be praised. The latter is to be opposed and/or ridiculed.

Even a the proverbial blind squirrel does find the occasional nut, though. De Coster is almost on to something when she tries to define “alternative.” In fact, those sorts of definitions were the very reason that quacks first latched onto the phrase “alternative medicine” to describe their quackery. Of course, it didn’t take long before they realized that “alternative” was not good enough. “Alternative” implied using this quackery instead of scientific medicine. That’s why “alternative” medicine evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) which still wasn’t good enough and is why CAM is now evolving into “integrative medicine.”

I can now only conclude with a part of De Coster’s post that is so hilariously ironic after all the vitriol she poured on me, those who defend vaccination, and those who defend scientific medicine:

The crazed vaccination pushers are to the health and wellness paradigm what the neocons are to foreign policy, and what the jack-booted, machine-gun thugs in black are to the community of “serve and protect.” They are sick, crazed, and obsessed with the decisions others make regarding their own lives, and they couch their aggression and defense of the conventional garbage in collective, unscientific terms (such as “herd immunity”). The folks who wish to avoid vaccines churn out no such aggression or hostility. They just want to be left alone, and always, they are forced to defend themselves, and their bodies, from the agents of the government-medical-Big Pharma establishment.

The folks who wish to avoid vaccines churn out no such aggression or hostility? Seriously? De Coster can write this with a straight face after referring to “crazed vaccination pushers” and likening them to neo-cons, calling them “sick” and “crazed,” and labeling the as “agents of the government–medical-Big pharma establishment”? Damn if another irony meter of mine hasn’t been demolished. Then I looked at this post by De Coster, in which she expresses approval and happiness that her company had sent an ergonomics expert to help her with her workstation because after hip surgery sitting at her workstation is causing her pain. Does she even realize that the reason many companies have ergonomics experts these days is in order to comply with OSHA regulations. Apparently all that rampant government regulation is just fine with De Coster when it benefits her.

I am, however, amused by De Coster’s claim that I don’t take on hard science. I’d point her in the direction of any of hundreds of posts I’ve done analyzing the peer-reviewed literature, but clearly that would be a waste of time. Mixing snark with hard science is what I do. I’m just grateful that, in addition to educating, it can occasionally ruffle the feathers of someone like De Coster. It’s icing on the cake.

Now if I can only get a mention on I know Mike Adams knows who I am…