Christmas and New Years are almost here. As a result, as is always the case this time of year, we’re being flooded with “year end” lists. These lists are a fun distraction that I actually rather look forward to as an amusing (and sometimes annoying) year end tradition. In particular, I’m a sucker for “best of the year” and “worst of the year” lists, particularly the latter. Unfortunately, I’ve usually been too lazy to construct such lists of my own, but maybe this year will be different and next week I’ll do so. Or not.
Be that as it may, it gave me a bit of a chuckle to see that Mike Adams over at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, NaturalNews.com, set his minions Ethan Huff and J.D. Heyes to the task of coming up with a couple of year end lists in articles entitled, Natural News announces recipients of the 2015 Journalist Courage Awards and Natural News announces recipients of 2015 Celebrity Hall of Shame Awards (if the link doesn’t work and redirects you to a page extolling the “scientific achievements” of Mike Adams, try this link). (No doubt there’ll be more before the end of the year.) I couldn’t help but think as I perused these articles that, were I a journalist, there’s no way in hell I’d want to be in the first list, but if I were a celebrity I’d love to be in the second list. Before I read each article, I tried to guess who was in each list. The journalist awards were easy to predict. The usual suspects were all there and then some. In contrast, the celebrity awards were not as obvious. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
So who was the first journalist to be praised by Adams’ minions? Personally, I thought it would be Sharyl Attkisson, but in 2015, they appear to want to recognize fresh crank blood:
Ben Swann: Without a doubt Mr. Swann is one of the best and brightest young investigative journalists we have today, and he’s not too afraid or intimidated to take on any subject that the national-level corporate-owned and politically compromised media would find objectionable.
For instance, Mr. Swann is one of the few journalists willing to tell the truth about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cover-up of research showing links between vaccines and brain injuries which manifest as tics and autism symptoms, as revealed by CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson.
Thanks for being a beacon of truth, Ben!
You know, if I were a journalist, this award isn’t the sort of thing I’d put on my resume, if you know what I mean. Swann, if you remember, is the Alex Jones wannabe anchor of the early evening newscast for the Atlanta CBS affiliate, WGCL CBS46. Hired in June after having done stints in Cincinnati and El Paso, as well as having built his own little YouTube channel chock full of stories where Swann emulated his apparent hero, Alex Jones, in mining the conspiracy circuit. He went full antivaccine back in October when he did a sympathetic (and inaccurate)
“Reality Check” on the antivaccine protest at the CDC over the so-called #CDCWhistleblower manufactroversy. Then, a mere three weeks ago, Swann followed up his piece de resistance of antivaccine reporting by revealing to the world that he had obtained from Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) the documents provided him by the “CDC Whistleblower” himself, CDC scientist William Thompson, whose conversations with biochemical engineer turned antivaccine activist Brian Hooker (which Hooker recorded without Thompson’s knowledge) birthed the whole “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy in the first place in the summer of 2014.
Yes, Swann truly deserves this award. All I can say is: Sharyl Attkisson, watch your back. There’s a new antivaccine propagandist and all-purpose conspiracy monger in town and his star is rising.
Speaking of Attkisson:
She digs deeper and takes stories where they lead, which is how she was able to reveal that the “latest study debunking the link was actually funded by a group with major financial ties to Big Pharma vaccine makers. Didn’t hear that on TV, did you?
Keep dropping those truth bombs, Sharyl!
I checked out the article that Heyes referenced in his praise of Attkisson, What the News Isn’t Saying About Vaccine-Autism Studies. In it, she harps on the fact that the Lewin Group funded this major study that, consistent with all the other well-designed studies looking at the question, found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Amusingly, this is what she says:
What you didn’t learn on the news was that the study was from a consulting firm that lists major vaccine makers among its clients: The Lewin Group.
That potential conflict of interest was not disclosed in the paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine; the study authors simply declare “The Lewin Group operates with editorial independence.”
Sharyl, Sharyl, Sharyl. How am I supposed to take you seriously when you cite this paper as having been published in the NEJM when in fact it was published in JAMA. I mean, seriously. If you can’t be bothered to identify the journal correctly, I have to wonder what else you got wrong. Be that as it may, the Lewin Group is a consulting firm. Its clients include the the federal government, state and local governments, hospitals, foundations, associations, and insurers. So, yes, it’s not surprising that its clients include pharmaceutical companies as well. Take that for what you will, but it’s hardly incredibly damning, nor is it evidence that the study was hopelessly flawed. It wasn’t; it was a pretty decent study, as I pointed out at the time when I blogged about it.
None of this stops Sharyl from writing one of my favorite paragraphs she’s ever penned:
Their work is, at best, ignored by the media; at worst, viciously attacked by the predictable flock of self-appointed expert “science” bloggers who often title their blogs with the word “science” or “skeptics” to confer an air of legitimacy.
This astroturf movement, in my opinion, includes but is not limited to: LeftBrainRightBrain, ScienceBlogs, NeuroSkeptic, ScienceBasedMedicine, LizDitz, ScienceBasedMedicine, CrooksandLiars, RespectfulInsolence, HealthNewsReview, SkepticalRaptor, Skepticblog, Skeptics.com, Wired, BrianDeer, SethMnookin, Orac, Every Child by Two, the vaccine industry supported American Academy of Pediatrics, and the government/corporate funded American Council on Science and Health (once called “Voodoo Science, Twisted Consumerism” by the watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest).
Sharyl likes me. She really, really likes me. She really, really likes a lot of friends and bloggers I admire, too! In any case, she’s going to have to up her game in 2016 to fend off Ben Swann’s challenge.
Then, of course, the list includes Eric Lipton, whose deceptive hit piece on Kevin Folta, a prominent horticultural scientist and outspoken defender of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as safe, was part of what drove Folta from public advocacy, along with threats against his family. Never mind that Lipton’s piece was an obvious hatchet job designed to discredit Folta, the result of a concerted campaign to harass scientists who defend GMOs with frivolous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
I must admit that I haven’t heard of many of the other “journalists” given this “honor,” with the exception of Glenn Greenwald and Jeffry John Aufderheide, the latter of whom came to my attention because he runs a crank antivaccine website (but I repeat myself) known as VacTruth.com. Let’s just say that he’s deluded enough to think that pesticides, specifically DDT, caused polio outbreaks before the vaccines and that it was really the cessation of DDT use, not the vaccine, that caused polio incidence to plummet. He also demonizes polysorbate 80 in vaccines as the cause of all (OK, much) evil.
What about celebrities? Well, Adams hates Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, because Weiss actually stood up for science in response to a petition requesting “fairer” (translation: more credulous) treatment of alt-med on Wikipedia, dropping the mic with one of the most quotable characterizations of alt-med nonsense:
No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.
Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.
What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of ‘true scientific discourse’. It isn’t.
No wonder Adams doesn’t like him. In fact, he detests Wales so much that his minion Ethan Huff is awarding Wales for something he said nearly two years ago!
Others on the list include Jon Stewart for his final monologue, during which he attacked anthropogenic global climate change denialists (a most excellent takedown), because Adams is a climate science denialist himself; Deborah Nucatola because she’s Senior Director of Medical Research at Planned Parenthood; Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, because they pointed out that, while terrorism by Muslims is a problem now, Christians are by no means innocent of terrorism; and Geraldo Rivera, because he Tweeted that the “second amendment is stupid.” Particularly noxious to Adams’ crew was Kristen Bell, who said:
“You have to get a whooping cough vaccination if you are going to hold our baby,” Bell stated while promoting a tote concept called “This Bag Saves Lives.” “It’s very simple logic: I believe in trusting doctors, not know-it-alls.”
Seems reasonable to me. No wonder Adams’ crew doesn’t like it.
Oh, and Huff and Adams really, really detest Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, too.
Knowing that many blogs and websites will slow way down (or even stop posting new material altogether) for the next four days because, due to Christmas Eve and Christmas, a lot of people won’t be paying attention, I can only hope that Adams will find it in his money-grubbing, woo-filled heart to continue this awards process next week and list his “Hall of Shame” bloggers. I fully expect to be on such a list, given the quality of Adams’ TruthWiki entry about a certain friend of the blog. Of course, I realize that by revealing that I consider inclusion on such lists a badge of honor I take the risk that Adams will purposely ignore me, as some other antivaccine bloggers have done. I’ll take that risk.
Happy Holidays, my faithful minions.