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In which antivaccinationist Ginger Taylor is taught a lesson, and not by Orac

It’s rare that my readers send me something that makes me laugh out loud, but this post did. I’ll give you a bit of background first, though. Lacking the science to back up their dangerous pseudoscience, antivaccine warriors tend to resort very early to ad hominem attacks. Apparently they figure that if they can discredit the messenger who promotes the message that vaccines are safe and effective (and don’t cause autism). One of their favorite techniques to accomplish this is something for which I originally coined a phrase way back in 2005: The Pharma Shill Gambit. You see it whenever someone like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. calls, for example, Paul Offit a “biostitute.” You see it whenever antivaccinationists claim that defenders of science are hopelessly biased because they are completely in the thrall of big pharma, carrying it to ridiculous extremes, as Jake Crosby often does. Indeed, one time three years ago, egged on by The Young Master Crosby, a bunch of antivaccinationists tried to get me fired from my job because—get this—my university had accepted a grant from Sanofi-Aventis to do research completely unrelated to what I do. However, since one of the drugs I study in my lab is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, naturally Jake saw a quid pro quo and an undisclosed conflict of interest. It would have been hilarious if it hadn’t briefly caused me such agita. Fortunately, my university administration immediately recognized the charges for the nonsense they were, and my dean was so supportive that she asked me if I felt physically threatened by Jake’s minions. I didn’t, but maybe I should have.

Be that as it may, this is the background that will allow you to understand why I found the comments sent to me by some of my readers so hilarious. There’s one more thing that might help explain things. Yesterday, I wrote about the Canary Party, an antivaccine political party that was recently endorsed by that Internet Crank To Rule All Internet Cranks (well most Internet Cranks, anyway), Mike Adams of Most recently, the Canary Party released a video narrated by the latest celebrity antivaccine crank du jour, Rob Schneider, that was chock full of lies and misinformation about the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Consistent with the embrace of Tea Party politics by the Canary Party, Ginger Taylor somehow managed to get a post about Schneider’s video published over at The Daily Paul entitled Comic Rob Schneider Explains That Americans Have No Right to Sue for Vaccine Injury pimping that very same misinformation-laden video. That’s not the hilarious part. Ms. Taylor’s post is simply a regurgitation of the same old lies claiming that the Vaccine Court is somehow an affront to justice. No, the hilarity comes in the comments, where one reader referenced my deconstruction of the dishonest Canary Party video (but I repeat myself). Ginger was not pleased at this. Not pleased at all:

Orac is a drug developer for vaccine maker Sanofi. And he hid that for more than five years while writing about vaccines and autism. While developing a drug for them with applications for autism. Until an expose uncovered his failure to disclose his very serious conflict of interest.

So yep… absolutely… he is a compromised source. Also a cancer surgeon, not an immunologist, neurologist, or autism specialist.

No, Ms. Taylor. I am not a drug developer for Sanofi-Aventis. I don’t receive any funding from Sanofi-Aventis. I don’t exactly do drug development, either. Rather, I use an existing drug that happens to be manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis to probe the molecular mechanism of glutamate signaling in breast cancer cells and find better ways to target certain glutamate receptors. Nor do I have a “very serious conflict of interest.” While it’s true that I am not an immunologist, neurologist, or autism specialist, I do know scientific methodology. Besides, Ms. Taylor is also neither an immunologist, neurologist, nor autism specialist. She has a masters degree in clinical counseling, which is not even a degree that would make one qualified to judge basic research; yet she thinks nothing of spouting off about vaccines and autism as though she were an expert on par with Paul Offit. Compared to Ms. Taylor, quite frankly, I am an expert.

But Ms. Taylor’s little broadside wasn’t the best thing about this post. Oh, no. The best thing about this post was that another commenter by the ‘nym of Delysid quite calmly and efficiently handed her head to her with a rebuttal so scathing that Ms. Taylor apparently couldn’t allow it to stand, as the comment is no longer there. However, my readers, ever watching my back, sent me a screenshot that I transcribed:

Based on the work I have read by you, you are extremely dishonest and manipulative with your arguments. I don’t give a damn if you are a fellow Ron Paul supporting freedom fighter or an “autism mother,” you are spreading false information relentlessly and irresponsibly, and I will not be silent about it.

The only way that Orac (who I have never met) is even remotely a conflict of interest is if the fantasy that vaccines cause autism is true. This isn’t true, and it makes your accusation ridiculous.

I’ve been doing some research on digital scanners and implatns. If you made the false accusation that “digital scanners and implants cause tooth decay,” and I blogged that this is nonsense, am I suddenly at conflict of interest? HELL NO.

Science is apolitical. You are trying to politicize science and you are manipulating others using dipshit celebrities to spread your propaganda.

That one’s going to leave a mark.

Ms. Taylor did, however, apparently reply:

Do you believe that the government should be able to pass a law removing the rights of Americans for redress of grievances?

Under any circumstances?

Even in the death or massive disabling of their child?

If so, how do you exactly belong on the Daily Paul?

Poor Ginger. So arrogantly self-righteous. So clueless. It’s a highly toxic combination, even more toxic than all the fantastical “toxins” Ms. Taylor believes to be in vaccines, and as Ms. Taylor believes those toxins to be, her arrogantly sarcastic self-righteousness is deadly threat to any neuron that is exposed to it. However, she can be quite amusing, albeit unintentionally. All she did was to give Delysid another opportunity to demolish her again:

It says here that not only have people been compensated for injury by vaccines, but the average payout is $824,462.

Orac claims that you are furious that the government and every other governming body declared that vaccines do not cause autism.

I think this is a fair assesment of the situation. You are determined to prove that vaccines caused autism in your child. Is this it?

You are making one dishonest claim after another. Fortunately for you people love a liar as long as they are cheering on the things they like.

Yes, it looks to me as though Delysid has Ms. Taylor’s number. The only thing he missed is her nauseating condescension and unearned sense of self-righteousness. Truly, Ms. Taylor is the living embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect and the arrogance of ignorance. Really, she should quit while she’s not too far behind, but you and I both know that she won’t. At least it will be entertaining. Poor Ms. Taylor, MS.

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]

1,341 replies on “In which antivaccinationist Ginger Taylor is taught a lesson, and not by Orac”

Ginger must have misread the constitution. It guarantees the right to petition THE GOVERNMENT for a redress of grievances (which, as Delysid mentions, has not been removed).

It never ceases to amaze my how often it can be pointed out to anti-vaccinationists that there is nothing that removes the rights for redress for real vaccine injuries. They can even sue for design defect claims, as long as they go through the VICP first. Of course, that destroys their self-righteous martyr complex, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they would continuously lie about it.

Key words Todd: “real vaccine injuries.”

To Delysid, a round of applause and a high-pitched, “nailed it!”

Every once in a while, when this nonsense starts, the masses you wouldn’t expect come out and highlight just how fringe the fringe is. But like the HuffPo article going viral, more people need to do it.

The same Ginger Taylor who has been asserting that she has been a volunteer for the Canard Party but accepting a salary from them? Typical.

The same filthy-mouthed Ginger Taylor who set the example for the Thinking Moms. The same Ginger Taylor who spreads lies and who inserted herself into the Crosby/Bolen fiasco. (Good for entertainment value, though).

Good on “Delysid” for calling Ginger out on her defamatory lies…whoever (s)he is.

Ms. Taylor was definitely, as the kids say, pwn3d in that exchange. She’s entitled to her own opinion, but not her own facts. Such as the government being allowed to specify the procedures by which people may seek redress, which does not mean the right to redress does not exist. (Incidentally, where does Ms. Taylor stand on things like mandatory arbitration contracts? Those things actually are designed to deny people a meaningful right to seek redress. But the people I have seen opposing the practice are not the people who openly share Ms. Taylor’s political views.)

Not that this will deter her. She can moderate commenters like Delysid out of existence and go on living in her internet bubble.

” which is not even a degree that would make one qualified to judge basic research”.

Totally agreed.
It’s possible that she was not at all required to take experimentally-based courses that are dependent upon research ( e.g. perception, cognition, developmental, physiology etc) or much about statistical analysis or research design.

She probably did not have to submit research proposals or work with researchers. While this is called “clinical” it’s not the same as clinical psych which would include more of what I refer to above, even at a master’s level.

Same goes for Mac Neil’s social work degree and focus on psychotherapy.

They can even sue for design defect claims, as long as they go through the VICP first.

No, they can’t. Bruesewitz v Wyeth settled that. Claims of manufacturing defects and inaccurate labelling may be pursued outside the VICP. Design defect claims may not:

Held: The NCVIA preempts all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers brought by plaintiffs seeking compensation for injury or death caused by a vaccine’s side effects.

It doesn’t get more explicit than that.

Delysid’s “dishonest” comment is still there, along with several others lamenting the level of scientific ignorance that allows the anti-vax lobby to ply its trade.

But I think the “WAKE UP” comment, posted by Bomobo (page 2 comments) sums things up pretty well.


The way I understood it, that simply means that they cannot go directly to civil court for design defect claims. First they need to go through the vaccine court. Once they have done that, they are free to accept or appeal the decision by the Special Master. If that fails, they may then go on to civil court.

Hey Orac and others,

I’ve been lurking on Respectful Insolence for a few months. It was refreshing discovery for me. I’ve been battling the quackery being spouted by others in the libertarian community, especially on the Daily Paul, for a few years now. I thought no one despised Mike Adams more than I do, but Dr. Gorski might have me beat. lol

I may be recollecting wrongly, but the Vaccine Court pays (all?) attorney’s fees, regardless of the ruling. This makes it even easier for those claiming an injury to go before them.


You are correct. Win or lose, reasonable attorneys’ fees are paid by the program.

@ sirhcton

You’re right. In fact, I think a lot of shady ambulance chasers have taken to the Court because it’s a guaranteed paycheck, unlike civil courts.

Denice Walter,

She may have had some research courses but she either:

1. Doesn’t remember them
2. Cannot see her objectivity is compromised because of her intimacy with the subject matter.
3. All of the above.

For my MSW degree while clinically focused had a research aspect. I had to go through the whole process from proposal, IRB filing, data collecting, SPSS, interpretation, discussion, writing the results, presentation, questions and answers as part of my degree. It depends upon the school as to what the focus is. I know there is an MSSW degree which is heavily research focused. You could be spot on though as her college/university is not heavily research focused. Mine (USF) is so I received the benefit of both research and clinical training.

Two landmark events – a government concession in the US Vaccine Court, and a groundbreaking scientific paper – confirm that physician, scientist, and Autism Media Channel [AMC] Director, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, and the parents were right all along.

In a recently published December 13, 2012 vaccine court ruling, hundreds of thousands of dollars were awarded to Ryan Mojabi, [i] whose parents described how “MMR vaccinations,” caused a “severe and debilitating injury to his brain, diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder (‘ASD’).”

Later the same month, the government suffered a second major defeat when young Emily Moller from Houston won compensation following vaccine-related brain injury that, once again, involved MMR and resulted in autism. The cases follow similar successful petitions in the Italian and US courts (including Hannah Poling [ii], Bailey Banks [iii], Misty Hyatt [iv], Kienan Freeman [v], Valentino Bocca [vi], and Julia Grimes [vii]) in which the governments conceded or the court ruled that vaccines had caused brain injury. In turn, this injury led to an ASD diagnosis. MMR vaccine was the common denominator in these cases.

There can be very little doubt that vaccines can and do cause autism. In these children, the evidence for a n adverse reaction involving brain injury following the MMR that progresses to an autism diagnosis is compelling. It’s now a question of the body count. The parents’ story was right all along. Governments must stop playing with words while children continue to be damaged . My hope is that recognition of the intestinal disease in these children will lead to the relief of their suffering. This is long , long overdue .”

Here is a list of 28 studies from around the world that support Dr. Wakefield’s research:

The Journal of Pediatrics November 1999; 135(5):559-63
The Journal of Pediatrics 2000; 138(3): 366-372
Journal of Clinical Immunology November 2003; 23(6): 504-517
Journal of Neuroimmunology 2005
Brain, Behavior and Immunity 1993; 7: 97-103
Pediatric Neurology 2003; 28(4): 1-3
Neuropsychobiology 2005; 51:77-85
The Journal of Pediatrics May 2005;146(5):605-10
Autism Insights 2009; 1: 1-11
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology February 2009; 23(2): 95-98
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry 2009:21(3): 148-161
Journal of Child Neurology June 29, 2009; 000:1-6
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders March 2009;39(3):405-13
Medical Hypotheses August 1998;51:133-144.
Journal of Child Neurology July 2000; ;15(7):429-35
Lancet. 1972;2:883–884.
Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia January-March 1971;1:48-62
Journal of Pediatrics March 2001;138:366-372.
Molecular Psychiatry 2002;7:375-382.
American Journal of Gastroenterolgy April 2004;598-605.
Journal of Clinical Immunology November 2003;23:504-517.
Neuroimmunology April 2006;173(1-2):126-34.
Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol Biol. Psychiatry December 30 2006;30:1472-1477.
Clinical Infectious Diseases September 1 2002;35(Suppl 1):S6-S16
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2004;70(11):6459-6465
Journal of Medical Microbiology October 2005;54:987-991
Archivos venezolanos de puericultura y pediatría 2006; Vol 69 (1): 19-25.
Gastroenterology. 2005:128 (Suppl 2);Abstract-303

OMFG! Bamobo is so totally on to us!

S/he’s aware of the brain altering/ brainwashing, subliminally conditioned shopping, hypno-television, pagan rituals and the shape shifting reptile/ human bodyshare programme.

And the Daily Paul’s own logo mentions “GOLD”** which is, of course, key to his Lordship’s ultimate plan. It also includes – “peace and love”. We can’t have that.

Frigging Freedom Fighters, they’ll get you everytime.

** there’s an AU in Paul. That explains everything.

Okay, so according to Ms Taylor, she thinks you are developing autism drugs, yet are not an autism specialist? You’d think she could keep her lies straight over the span of three sentences.

The way I understood it, that simply means that they cannot go directly to civil court for design defect claims. First they need to go through the vaccine court. Once they have done that, they are free to accept or appeal the decision by the Special Master. If that fails, they may then go on to civil court.

No. We’ve been through this. Post-Bruesewitz, the only path after the OSM is a perfunctory review by Court of Federal Claims, then the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and then SCOTUS. That’s it.

First off, Orac, thanks for everything you are doing. I share your passion for “science-based medicine.” I stumbled upon your other blog while investigating Natural News and Mike Adams a few months ago (or a year ago?) and I’ve been reading your work more and more frequently. Funny stuff. I consider him my nemesis with how frequently people on Facebook and my favorite sites blast me with Natural News links. Despite my best efforts to debunk him it just keeps coming.

I’ve never met him or corresponded with him personally (or on the internet, to my knowledge), but the other day I got into a several hours long public Facebook debate with fairly well known activist (thousands of followers) and her friends against the naturalistic fallacy and Natural News, and the next day Adams published a scathing attack on how “dentists are psychopaths.”

I’d like to think that I influenced that outburst and that it was an indirect attack on me. Maybe some of his paranoid insanity has rubbed off on me, but the timing, content, and language seems to be too relevant to be a coincidence.

I had a good laugh. It’s not the first time I’ve been suspicious that my scathing criticism of him on libertarian outlets had an an impact. Orac has pissed him something awful, too, no doubt.

But I want to clear up a few misconceptions I read here.

Ginger Taylor has no moderating abilities on the Daily Paul and nothing in that thread was censored. Censorship over there is very rare and reserved for chronic hostility and lunacy. I’ve been a paying subscriber to that site for 2 or 3 years now and the moderators and owner know me by first and last name. Comments retract and turn grey and become invisible to guests at a default of negative 7 cumulative votes. To see them all you need is a free sign-up.

In my lurking on Insolence I’ve noticed some strong criticism of the liberty movement. It’s understandable because there is an extremely vocal group of quacks that have latched onto the movement and it’s frustrating as hell. Having been immersed in the culture for a few years, however, I’ve realized that it is strongly a parasitic relationship.

Generalizing my observations, many (not all) so-called liberty activists are first and foremost alternative alternative medicine advocates who are using the liberty as a medium for their propaganda. There is a lot overlap with the quacks, but conspiracy theorists do the same thing. It’s frustrating because the lunatic fringe tends to yell the loudest and muddy other legitimate points with pseudoscience gibberish.

A lot of people who oppose government control over society are trying to deny the science government is involved in. They don’t realize that although government can control the laws of society, but not the laws of nature.

I published an essay about this on the Daily Paul in August. It got one upvote. Maybe you Orac and your readers would find it more interesting.

“Comments retract and turn grey and become invisible to guests at a default of negative 7 cumulative votes.”

I cannot understand why websites (and Daily Paul is not the only one) allow people to cast negative votes on a post and cause it to “disappear”, even if it’s just to guests. What that does is enable a form of censorship in which views are deemed “not helpful” to the discussion – but all it really does is encourage people to shout down unpopular ideas.

If you want to deal with virulent invective and outright trolling, there’s a much better way – it’s called “moderation”. Too bad some sites are too lazy to moderate their forums.

“Here is a list of 28 studies from around the world that support Dr. Wakefield’s research”

Care to explain how any of those publications support Wakefield, rather than doing a Gish Gallop of articles without even listing their titles?

well, at least orac has moved on from demonizing woo crap—-grew up maybe; still, hard to understand why orac would want to spend time overwriting—-as orac is prone to do—-and not just do his/her science, if, indeed, orac is a scientist(so claimed). Having said that, I do that the anti-vac folks are “woos” themselves. So long

Didn’t the court find that Ryan Mojabi suffered encephalitis as a result of the MMR vaccination? No finding re Autism.

They were awarded damages for the Vaccine Table Injury encephalitis. Encephalitis is not autism.

Certainly nothing in either decision argues that Wakefield’s Lancet paper was anything other than fraudulent.

Gah! It’s not letting me post the links, but I thought that list looked familiar…then I remembered Left Brain Right Brain and Just the Vax took care of it. A long time ago.

Keating Willcox: “Here is a list of 28 studies from around the world that support Dr. Wakefield’s research:”

Oh, I love that list. Especially the brain dead cutting and pasting where they don’t notice it cites an entire year of a journal! Oh, and it is also old news and very wrong:

Also, Keating Willcox, the 2012 Vaccine Court decision was a table injury, and has nothing to do with autism.

And then about this: “There can be very little doubt that vaccines can and do cause autism. In these children, the evidence for a n adverse reaction involving brain injury following the MMR that progresses to an autism diagnosis is compelling.”

The MMR has been in use in the USA since 1971, and was the preferred vaccine for the 1978 Measles Elimination Program. The USA is much larger than the UK, and its MMR vaccine was used for a much longer time before the UK introduced three MMR vaccines in 1988. So if the MMR vaccine causes autism it would have been noticed before Wakefield came on the scene. Please provide verifiable evidence dated before 1990 that autism in the USA went up during the 1970s and 1980s coincident to the use of the MMR vaccine with the Jeryl Lynn mumps component.

How many are you trying to post? There is a limit of two. Or this site just hates you. 😉

DB @29: Two of those papers were published in the 1970s, so those papers don’t support Wakefield’s results (the reverse might have been true if Wakefield’s results had not been fraudulent). I also see a paper from Medical Hypotheses, a paper from the first issue of the journal it’s published in, a paper from a Venezuelan journal, and one that is clearly labeled as an abstract. That’s without actually looking up any of those papers. I would be skeptical that any of the other 22 papers are both (1) published in reputable journals and (2) actually support Wakefield’s results. I have a hunch that some of those papers really do cite Wakefield’s, but to criticize his results rather than to support them (Wakefield’s paper had not yet been retracted).

AnObservingParty was correct: Just the Vax published a thorough takedown of the claim that Keating Willcox regurgitated here. Since links seem problematic, a search for that site and “Still no independent confirmation of Wakefield’s claims” will turn up the evidence that Willcox never read the papers that he cited.

Chris @33: Your response posted while I was typing mine. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

The first article (Gastrointestinal abnormalities in children with autistic disorder) does not support Wakefield’s claims re: the MMR vaccine being causally associated the development of autism. In fact, it doesn’t mention MMR or measles at all.

Ditto for the second article (Colonic CD8 and gamma delta T-cell infiltration with epithelial damage in children with autism).

And for the third (Intestinal lymphocyte populations in children with regressive autism: evidence for extensive mucosal immunopathology)

And the fourth (Elevated cytokine levels in children with autism spectrum disorder).

And the fifth (Antibodies to myelin basic protein in children with autistic behavior).

The sixth citation actually does address measles virus and autism (Elevated levels of measles antibodies in children with autism). It’s VK Singh’s comment, claiming that he’s found elevated levels of antibodies against measles in the serum of autistic children, but not their siblings or non-autistic children. This finding has never been reproduced; instead, multiple large scale independent studies have failed repeatedly to uncover any association between measles and/or the measles vaccine and autism.

The seventh—but then, there’s really no need to go on. Is there?

Surprising nobody, Keating Wilcox’s facebook page is riddled with crank magnetism at work. far-right-wing nuttery, homophobia, golabl warming denialism, antifeminism/’men’s rights,’ various altie nonsense…and that’s just from the past week.

So, Keating, how many of those 28 studies have you actually read?

Ironically, he also quotes Feynman:

“There are myths and pseudo-science all over the place. I might be quite wrong, maybe they do know all this … but I don’t think I’m wrong, you see I have the advantage of having found out how difficult it is to really know something. How careful you have to be about checking the experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself. I know what it means to know something. And therefore, I see how they get their information and I can’t believe that they know it. They haven’t done the work necessary, they haven’t done the checks necessary, they haven’t taken the care necessary. I have a great suspicion that they don’t know and that they’re intimidating people.”

Mr. Wilcox, I recommend you spend some time checking experiments carefully, and being especially aware of “how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself.”

@ Delysid: I don’t know why you even “bother” to argue with the likes of Ginger Taylor, who is firmly convinced her autistic child is “vaccine-damaged”…but I’m glad you do. 🙂

Eric Lund: “Thanks for confirming my suspicions.”

Thanks and your welcome. That list was being spammed so much a couple of years ago, some of us decided to tackle it. And it has happened again with another set of studies that Liz Ditz listed at her site. It starts here:
and continues to:

“your welcome” is really “your’re”, use your imagination to fix it. (especially since I am giggling at a Grammar Nazi on SBM)

@ brian & AnObservingParty: I think you both got stuck in moderation because the Just The Vax thread you tried to link to, had a slew of links embedded in it.

How marvelously serendipitous it is that “cac” is the exact sound my dog makes when spitting up grass . . .

Reading Keating Wilcox reminds me of the joy I’d see on my kids’ faces at age 2 when they’d discover they could play with the poop in their diapers but didn’t realize it would earn them a long bath with a scrub down later.

@lilady I argue with people like Ginger, even though getting through to people like her is hopeless, to keep myself sharp and to hopefully plant some seeds in others. It’s also pretty convenient having an immediate scientific response the next time the issue arises.

@Chris I agree with the sentiments of the article, but I still disagree with him about gun control and I’m definitely a skeptic regarding the proposed consequences of climate change. Global climate models are based on so many uncertainties and projections on these uncertainties that aspects of climatology enter the realm of pseudoscience. It reminds of the predictions involved in quantitive population genetics. The computations and models sound impressive and some gorgeous, colorful charts are produced, then we realize that basically nothing was accurately predicted and the process starts over with altered models.

It reminds of the predictions involved in quantitive population genetics. The computations and models sound impressive and some gorgeous, colorful charts are produced, then we realize that basically nothing was accurately predicted and the process starts over with altered models.

Umm…as a population geneticist I can tell you that this is not an accurate description of the field, like at all. Many old population genetics models are being validated in humans now that large enough datasets of genetic variation are available. Here’s a great recent example:


I wans’t talking about the accuracy of models of retroactive populations genetics, I meant the uncertainty of predicting the future of mutations.

It’s pretty tough to predict the direction of evolution.

I didn’t mean to insult the field of population genetics at all. I actually did my final undergrand senior biology seminar presentation on awesome population genetics study.

Science is much better at figuring out what and why something happened than predicting the future of what and why.

I wasn’t talking about the accuracy of models of retroactive populations genetics, I meant the uncertainty of predicting the future of mutations.

If you don’t understand how these two concepts are intimately related (and essentially the same thing), you don’t understand population genetics. Even still you’re incorrect…classic models of sequence evolution like F84 and GTR have been around for decades and continue to be validated as new population-level datasets are released.

But really none of this has anything to do with your opinions on climate change. Based on what you’ve written I suspect that you’ve been fed a very limited set of ideas on how models are used in science, and how they’re generated.

I haven’t been fed anything.

It seems to me we are on two different pages here.

But I admit to having a very weak understanding of these models.

But I don’t think this invalidates my point. Despite the impressive quantifive aspects, I stand by statement about uncertainty after uncertainty. This is what climatologists do. This is also what econometrists do. I reject this method.

@ Delysid:

” an extremely vocal group of quacks have latched onto the movement”

I’ve been following Mikey for about 6 years and other quacks for nearly 14 years(!); plus new age material in the 1990s-

I noticed political and economic rhetoric becoming increasingly inflammatory and strident after the economic collapse of 2008- 2009. Perhaps their profits suffered.

My own guess is that Mike would jump on to any bandwagon that would increase his page view count or his bottom line. For a while, he scoffed about how his native land had become unacceptable and relocated to Ecuador where he was to become the centre of a group of enlightened freedom seekers. That didn’t work out so well and he’s moved back.

He capitalises on readers’ fear and mistrust of the establishment as surely as he trades upon their fears of cancer and ill health Seemingly, he has a product for whatever ails you, physically, spiritually or politically.

I believe that he, seeing how lucrative selling alt med can be, modelled his career after Gary Null, who is listed amongst his chief influences at his new bio ( @ health Both also have the bizarre belief that any person can investigate, deconstruct and overturn scientifc research, making them role models for many of the anti-vax contingent, like Ms Taylor.

Over the past several years, I have seen Mike start many new projects and sell new items as well as unveiling new ideas, but it always reduces down to whatever he thinks will earn him more money and the loyalty of those who spend it.

Gonzalez-Angulo gave Blumenschein not just one cup of poisoned coffee, but two.

It was an honest mistake. How was she to know Blumenschein would *drink* what was obviously intended for an enema?

Science is much better at figuring out what and why something happened than predicting the future of what and why.

Certainly there is some uncertainty in the details of climate-model predictions, but the some effect seems likely from reducing the amount of heat re-radiation from the Earth while the amount arriving as sunlight stays the same. By way of analogy, predictions of where you hit ground if you jump from a plane may not be exactly correct, but jumping is still not a good idea.

Delysid @55

Global climate models are based on so many uncertainties and projections on these uncertainties that aspects of climatology enter the realm of pseudoscience.

The people who do these models are acutely aware of the uncertainties and make allowances for them. However, anthropogenic CO2 puts such a huge thumb on the scales that ANY rational model shows the temperature going up very significantly for some time to come. None of the competeing effects that people have dreamed up that might keep this from happening has proven out. There’s a lot of uncertainty involved, but the basic conclusions of anthropogenic global warming are very well-tested, and it would be foolish to ignore them.

I know that’s considered to be heresey in some Libertarian circles, but as you’re acutey aware, scientific issues can’t be decided using political signifiers.

I tried to find a way to ask a question here about the shingles vaccine. I am sorry to intrude on this thread with this question.
I work at a drugstore and was helping a customer find a product in the first aid aisle. I asked them if they had their flu shot. They had just visited their doctor and did get the shot. However, they did not get the shingles vaccine. The customer had shingles twenty years ago. Our Pharmacist on duty told him he did not need the vaccine because he had built up antibodies to it.
The way the CDC site reads, he could have been given one safely. I wonder why the pharmacist simply reccomended that they talk to their doctor first.
The customer wanted the vaccine and would not be seeing their doctor soon.

I’m going to speculate that Orac was busy yesterday. Ginger Taylor proven wrong? And in other news Jake Crosby has found a conspiracy and that chick from AoA is spamming the comments of every vaccine related news story.

A bit OT, but since we have been speaking about stupid things antivaxers say. This is one the most foul quotes I have heard in a while…..

“imagine a newborn protected by it’s mother’s antibodies! those with underlying conditions are another question. you might ask though why would those with underlying conditions have the right to ask others to take a chance at vaccine injury so that they might live?
you might even go as far as saying that measles and other childhood diseases are a weeder out of those not fit to live and we’re not doing ourselves a favour. complicated issues those. “

@Kelly M Bray: noxious, but hardly surprising. I think that they believe that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” To me, that saying is stupid as many things that don’t kill you do weaken you severely. Case in point: the organ damage caused by diphtheria, a vaccine preventable disease.

@Julian – the anti-vax folks have to say that. They have to “believe” that getting diseases are beneficial to those they get them (and survive / not suffer permanent side-effects) because they know that the end game includes the roaring come-back of VPDs….they have to convince themselves and others that these diseases are benign or even helpful, because otherwise they would have to admit that things like measles are bad (and don’t get me started on Rubella) and should be avoided….and unfortunately, the only means we have for avoidance (besides full quarantines) is vaccines… is a vicious cycle.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

My experience is that what doesn’t kill me, leaves me with a terrible hangover when I eventually wake up.


Science is much better at figuring out what and why something happened than predicting the future of what and why.

But science is based on making models and validating (or falsifying) them by making predictions. Prediction is by far the most important function of science. You can’t build a bridge, computer or airplane, or design a cancer drug or whatever without being able to make accurate predictions about how they will behave in hypothetical circumstances. It’s the basis of the scientific method.

This is what climatologists do. This is also what econometrists do. I reject this method.

Uncertainty in economic models is largely due to difficulties in accurately predicting human behavior. Uncertainty in climatology, as I understand it, is largely due to complexity and the very large number of variables. Economic and climate models are relatively unreliable for entirely different reasons.
As others have pointed out, there may be uncertainty about how fast anthropogenic global warming is happening, but not whether it is happening or not.


you might even go as far as saying that measles and other childhood diseases are a weeder out of those not fit to live and we’re not doing ourselves a favour.

It’s hard to believe anyone would say that in public, given recent human history.

You could equally argue that those children that are unable to tolerate vaccines are not fit to live, but it would be equally obnoxious.

In other ( nearly equally obnoxious) anti-vax news:

@ TMR, TM Tex interviews Jill Rubolino, of AIM ,who is preparing for the next IACC meeting wherein she and Ms Reed, will advocate for children with ASDs who are being discriminated against by SBM: they don’t get adequate health care as any other child would**.
They will be accompanied by Drs Buie and Frye and are asking for parents to submit their own stories to both the IACC and to herself ( in case the IACC ignores them)

I imagine she’ll not speak too much about her previous efforts in getting appropriate medical care for a hospitalised autistic person.

** If her charges were true, I suppose that that would mean that doctors don’t set autistics’ broken bones or that those with bacterial infections are declined antibiotics BUT
I don’t think that’s what she’s talking about.

( TMs would probably advocate against antibiotics anyway)

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