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Duluth Reader: A wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, thanks to Gary G. Kohls, MD

Last week, The Duluth Reader published an article by Gary G. Kohls, MD sliming Orac with easily refutable misinformation and misattribution. Today, Orac takes a closer look at the Reader and Dr. Kohls and finds a long history of antivaccine quackery. Why does the Duluth Reader give such a crank a regular platform for his dangerous misinformation?”

On Monday, I took note of an antivaccine doctor named Gary G. Kohls, MD. He was at the time someone I had never heard of before, or, more accurately, someone I didn’t remember. He got my attention by publishing an antivaccine screed against Paul Offit and myself in the Duluth Reader in which he repeated a lie about me that originated with über-quack Mike Adams. Basically, he tried to label me a “disinformation agent” who advocated deceptive, trollish strategies to discredit antivaxers and spread provaccine messages. Regular readers, of course will know that I disapprove of such tactics and, whatever information I spread and promote, I’m quite up front about it. I don’t do it behind the scenes, as Dr. Kohls tried to indicate in the Duluth Reader Weekly. To make a long story short, Kohls misattributed quotes from a commenter going by the ‘nym g724 as having been written by me advocating theses sorts of “disinformation strategies,” as I explained in my normal inimitable detail while laying the not-so-Insolent smackdown that Dr. Kohls richly deserved.

That leaves the Duluth Reader Weekly, which published these lies about me, courtesy of its columnist.

Gary G. Kohls, MD

A disingenuous response to a straightforward request for a correction

Naïve and trusting blogger that I am, at least when first encountering a publication whose nature appears to be legitimate (i.e., not obviously a crank or quack publication), I decided to write to the editor of the Duluth Reader, Robert Boone. The exchange went something like this:

I am writing in regards to a column published on Friday by Gary G. Kohls, MD, entitled Internet Trolls, Disinformation Agents and Big Vaccine.

This article contains claims about me, specifically about what I have written, that are both incorrect and potentially libelous. That the information is incorrect is not a matter of opinion, judgment, or interpretation. Dr. Kohls has, quite simply, misattributed quotes to me. I never wrote or said what he claims that I said. Whether it was though carelessness or dishonesty (or both) that Dr. Kohls did this, I do not know. However, I am hoping that, as editor of this newspaper, you are interested in factual accuracy in what you publish and will thus take appropriate action upon learning what I have to relate to you. Specifically, I am requesting that you either correct Dr. Kohls’ potentially libelous article or retract it.

Indeed, it is not going too far to state that Dr. Kohls demonstrates a reckless disregard for the truth when he characterizes my views on Internet trolling with two quotes that he has misattributed to me. You will notice that he has no primary direct sources for these quotes, but uses a secondhand dubious source in order to slime me. I have dealt with these misattributed quotes before, and I just dealt with them again today in this post.

I understand if you don’t wish to read the whole blog post above and will therefore summarize Dr. Kohls’ misattribution and misinformation, in particular why it is misattribution and misinformation.

First, Dr. Kohls quotes me as having written this:

“Go in there and “agree with them” and then say things that appear thoroughly delusional, overtly nuts, blatantly and obviously wrong even to nincompoops, etc. Occasional spelling and grammar errors are also useful but don’t over-do. The point of this exercise is to create an impression that drives away undecideds who may come in to check out these sites. It helps to do this as a group effort and begin gradually, so the sites appear to be “going downhill slowly.” – David Gorski, one of many well-hidden Big Pharma shills who specialize in trolling “safe vaccine” websites of distressed or angry parents whose children have been unequivocally injured or killed by vaccines.

I never wrote anything of the sort. The above passage was taken from an anonymous comment left on my blog on April 20, 2012 by a commenter using the ‘nym g724. Here is the link

Next, Dr. Kohls also claims that I wrote this:

“The way to do it is to first set up a fictitious email address. Speaking from experience working on research on extremist groups…Create a totally fictitious name and then an address that reflects that name e.g. John Doe and [email protected] Second, get an address on a free service provider such as Yahoo or Hotmail or whatever. Since most of these ask for your “other” email address as proof of identity, give them the one on your broadband provider. They will send a confirmation email to that address giving you your starting password. Third, after about a week of using your new fictitious address in various places that let you sign up for comments, you can be sure it’s working, so then go in and delete the address you created on your broadband service. Typically they deactivate the address immediately and then take a month to free up that slot for re-use. This step ensures that your Yahoo or Hotmail address becomes un-traceable back to your broadband provider. Forth, wait a month for the original fictitious name to completely purge from your broadband provider. Fifth: Now you’re home free to get onto the anti-vax boards and any other objectionable boards you want to go after and make all manner of noise to make them look ridiculous and drive away the undecideds. Yeee-hawww, round ‘em up!” – David Gorski, infamous pro-vaccine disinformation agent and surgeon who is on the faculty of Wayne State University. His two pseudonyms are “Orac” and “Respectful Insolence”). Gorski publishes on a blogsite that he has deceptively named “Science-Based Medicine”.

I wrote nothing of the sort. Again, this was written by the same anonymous commenter using the ‘nym g724 in a comment posted on April 25, 2012. Here is the link.

Finally, Dr. Kohls is not a particularly careful writer. He claims that Dr. Paul Offit is “Skeptical Raptor.” He is not. I know who “Skeptical Raptor” (http://www.skepticalraptor.com) is. I consider him a friend and admire his work, just as I do the work of Dr. Paul Offit, but Dr. Offit is not Skeptical Raptor. I also note that the reactions of my regular commenters to the two comments above was nearly uniformly negative, indeed almost violently so. Neither I nor my fans support such “disinformation” tactics.

Just by way of the source of the lie that Dr. Kohls republished, it appears to have originated on a website run by Mike Adams, a well-known alternative medicine and antivaccine “entrepreneur” and, in my opinion, scammer. Here’s a bit about him:

So, basically, Dr. Kohls used a dubious source that misattributed quotes to me that I never wrote or said, all in order to attack and defame me. There is other misinformation about me in Dr. Kohls’ article, but to explain the nuances of why his claims about my research and Rilutek are distortions and falsehoods would take a lot more text to explain. If you are interested, I will refer you to these two posts, but reading them is not necessary if you are pressed for time. I include them for completeness’ sake:

Finally, having perused the archives of Dr. Kohls’ articles published in the Duluth Reader, I must admit to some amazement that your publication would provide him with a platform, given that he regularly publishes pseudoscientific antivaccine misinformation of the sort that I’ve been battling and refuting for the last 15 years on respectfulinsolence.com and sciencebasedmedicine.org. It is, of course, your right to have an antivaccine columnist on your staff, but I’ll finish with a friendly observation: It is not a good look.

However, it’s an even worse look to have a columnist on your staff with so little regard for accuracy, and I hope that you will do the right thing and either correct or retract his article.

I actually did get a response, and how do you think that Mr. Boone responded? Take a guess. Hint: It wasn’t what I would expect from a publisher and editor who cares one whit about journalistic accuracy:

It is a pleasure to hear from you. To start with, our publication features writers of many interests and beliefs (many we don’t agree with…) and that is part of the reason we have a wide and diverse readership. We encourage all our reader to participate in the discussion and your response is just what we need. We have had another readers who has been defending you and other physicians disparaged by Dr Kohls which livens up the debate. On that note, may we publish your letter? Myself, I’d prefer we had another voice in this matter and wish there were more to rebutt the other times when Kohls strays from “his lane” Please let us know if it would be alright.

Thanks

The Reader Weekly

This was the single most irritatingly disingenuous reply I’ve ever received from the editor of any publication ever. It was intellectually dishonest in the extreme, to the point that it actually infuriated me. Yes, I was pissed. I was really, truly, and royally pissed. What set me off? I bet you can guess, but notice how Boone (or whoever wrote this) completely sidestepped the issue of a correction or retraction and instead only offered me a chance to rebut Dr. Kohls in his publication. He completely ignored the issue of correcting or retracting the actual demonstrated misinformation in his paper, the Duluth Reader. He also completely ignored the issue of why he was providing a forum for a quack peddling pseudoscience of the worst variety. Remember, Minnesota has recently suffered a huge measles outbreak among its Somali immigrant population, thanks to antivaccine misinformation of the very sort that Dr. Kohls is helping to spread.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at an article published in the Duluth Reader by Dr. Kohls while the Somali measles outbreak was still raging. Here’s just a taste of how the Duluth Reader, by hosting Dr. Kohls’ antivaccine pseudoscience and quackery, helped to contribute to the Somali measles outbreak:

Critical thinkers and knowledgeable readers who have no ulterior motivation to blindly promote current over-vaccination agendas will agree that the Somali parents who have witnessed the devastating epidemic of Autistic Spectrum Disorders decimate so many of their children since coming to Minnesota, made a wise choice in refusing MMR vaccinations. The Somali community has seen an alarming incidence of ASD (currently 1 out of every 32 of their children are afflicted, the worst prevalence rate in any Minnesota demographic group, even exceeding the 1 out of 48 among the fully vaccinated white male children in Minnesota). Recall that concurrent with the alarming epidemic of ASD was a dramatic increase in live virus vaccines, mercury-containing vaccine and aluminum-containing vaccines.

This is utter bullshit, pure and simple. I’ve discussed the background of the Somali measles outbreak in great detail, including the question of an increased prevalence of autism in the Somali immigrant community. Dr. Kohls doesn’t know what he’s talking about (as is the case for pretty much everything he writes about vaccines). Then, Dr. Kohls uses the intellectually dishonest “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit. (It appears to be one of his favorite antivax tropes, as I’ve seen him use it multiple times.) It’s also a favorite gambit of prominent antivaxers like J.B. Handley. It’s one that antivaxers like Julian Whitaker tried to use and got his posterior handed to him by Steve Novella in a debate.

Hilariously (or it would be hilarious if it weren’t so irresponsible), in addition to a number of antivax tropes well known to readers of this blog, Kohls pulls the “Brady Bunch gambit.” Yes, he actually parroted the claim that because 50 years ago a sitcom played the measles for laughs as a “normal” childhood illness, that must mean that no one ever thought measles was dangerous. Wrong. Historically measles was appreciated to have serious, potentially deadly complications, and more recent evidence shows measles to be more deadly than previously thought. Indeed, the most feared complication of measles, the 100% fatal subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is more common than previously thought, and doctors over 100 years ago knew how dangerous measles was.

Amusingly, here’s how Dr. Kohls is described in the article:

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA. In the decade prior to his retirement, he practiced what could best be described as “holistic (non-drug) and preventive mental health care”. Since his retirement, he has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader, an alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American imperialism, friendly fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, and the dangers of Big Pharma, psychiatric drugging, the over-vaccinating of children and other movements that threaten American democracy, civility, health and longevity and the future of the planet.

So, yes, the Duluth Reader knows that, by publishing Dr. Kohls’ misinformation about vaccines, it has willingly converted itself into a wretched hive of antivaccine scum and quackery. If you want to see how bad it is, just type the word “vaccine” into the search box of the paper’s website. Every single article, save two, that the search returns is an antivaccine article written by Gary G. Kohls, MD. That’s five pages of lists of articles, only two of which are not articles by Dr. Kohls.

A wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery indeed.

Round two

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s not being distracted by techniques like the one Mr. Boone tried on me. I saw no value in publishing a “rebuttal” to Dr. Kohls in a newspaper like the Duluth Reader Weekly that values journalistic accuracy so little that Boone didn’t even address the topic of my complaint and instead tried to distract me with a shiny object, a published letter or op-ed refuting Kohls’ pseudoscience, as though there are two sides to this issue scientifically. It was an offer for me to contribute to false balance. He could say that he had given “the other side” a chance to respond and wash his hands of the whole issue (and maybe get a bit of clickbait in the process).

So I pressed the issue:

That all depends. What are you going to do about Dr. Kohls’ misinformation-laden article? Are you going to correct or retract Dr. Kohls’ lies about me? Yes or no?

The second response was even worse than the first disingenuous response:

We would like your letter and Peter Johnson’s letter to correct Dr Kohls.. he is rather entrenched in his beliefs and need to be challenged more.

There is only one reaction to a statement this utterly divorced from reality, and that is the biggest facepalm of all:

Godzilla facepalm

No, Dr. Kohls doesn’t need to be challenged more. He needs not to be given the platform that the Duluth Reader gives him to spread his quackery and pseudoscience. So I let Boone have it:

That is not good enough. Dr. Kohls’ misinformation-filed article about me remains uncorrected and unretracted, and I’ve already published a rebuttal on my own terms on my own blog.

I laid off the Duluth Reader in my post, but am now beginning to think that you support Dr. Kohls’ antivaccine stances. Why else have you published his misinformation for so long?

Don’t you care about the accuracy of what is published in your paper? Why do you even have an antivaxer as a regular columnist anyway? Why would I want to associate my name with a newspaper that cares so little for journalistic accuracy? Sadly, your disingenuous answers lead me to think that the answer is no. I do not

You want to publish my letter or an op-ed? Prove to me that you run a paper that’s worth contributing to. Do the right thing.


This was sent Tuesday night at 11 PM. I have yet to hear back from Mr. Boone, although I did Tweak him with an email last night saying:

So may I assume from your lack of further response you plan on doing nothing to correct Dr. Kohls’ misinformation that you published in your newspaper?

I think you know the anser to that question, although in fairness, he might respond today.

Anti-pharma and anti-psychiatry

If antivaccine pseudoscience were the only pseudoscience Dr. Kohls were peddling, it would be bad enough, but it’s not. Perusing Dr. Kohls’ list of Duluth Reader articles going back to 2011, you’ll find anti-pharma rants, antivaccine rants, and anti-psychiatry rants.

I mentioned before that Dr. Kohls seems very proud that he founded a Duluth chapter of MindFreedom International, a rabidly anti-psychiatry group. As I noted last week, it’s not clear whether MindFreedom International is affiliated with the Church of Scientology, the way the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology offshoot whose purpose is to attack psychiatry, is. Whether MFI is affiliated with Scientology or not probably doesn’t really matter much; its belief system is virtually identical to that of Scientology. Its anti-psychiatry quackery is just as extravagant, hostile, and full of pseudoscience as Scientology’s, and Dr. Kohls buys into it completely.

Even worse, as commenters on the last post pointed out, I’m suspicious that Dr. Kohls has connections to Scientology himself, but, as is so often the case with Scientology-linked anti-psychiatry activists, there is always plausible deniability; so what I’m left with is just a suspicion that I can’t prove. Certainly, Dr. Kohls is just as anti-psychiatry as any Scientologist. For instance, he wrote an article regarding CCHR entitled Psychiatric Drugs: Create Violence and Suicide, School Shootings and Other Acts of Senseless Violence, in which he heaped praise on a CCHR report:

This extensive CCHR report is the very best I have read concerning psychoactive drugs and drug-induced violence, suicidality and irrational behaviors.

Note especially the latter pages that will enforce the notion that it isn’t so-called mental illnesses that need addressing, it is the brain-altering effect of the dependency-inducing (so-called) psychiatric drugs that are given out like candy by physicians for the normal emotions of sadness, nervousness, insomnia, low self-esteem, social anxiety, brain malnutrition, etc, all of which are NOT mental illness but rather normal human realities. Please spend a lot of time studying this well-documented treatise.

Note: Psychiatrist Peter Breggin (google him and watch his powerful videos on YouTube) has always said that people diagnosed with so-called mental illnesses (usually false diagnoses) are never violent UNTIL they start taking the brain-altering, addictive psych drugs or are going through withdrawal syndromes from the drugs!

I guess that, like the case of MindFreedom International and Peter Breggin, both of which deny connection with Scientology while being just as anti-psychiatry as Scientology and the CCHR, in the end it probably doesn’t matter much whether Dr. Kohls has any connection with Scientology. He’s a fellow traveler, preaching the same pseudoscientific anti-psychiatry message.

Finally, I originally said that I had never heard of Dr. Kohls before, but in retrospect, after having published my post. While searching my emails for another purpose, I found that Dr. Kohls had actually emailed me a long rambling screed on February 4 using the email address [email protected] and cc:’ing a whole bunch of journalists at STAT News, the New York Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and many more. Because this post has already gotten pretty long and I could potentially make another post out of deconstructing that nonsense if I’m ever in the mood. However, far be it from me not to give you a flavor of it, by providing PDFs of the three articles that he attached to his email. I’ll just give you a taste:

I count myself among a group of whistle-blowing scientists who have seen through the massive Big Pharma-generated dis-information campaign that is designed to push more and more costly vaccines onto an unsuspecting public. (270 new ones are in Big Pharma’s pipeline,) The campaign is also designed to discredit skeptics of that dis-information agenda – not to mention the multitudes of vaccine-injured and vaccine-disabled (and dead) children and families that their neurotoxic vaccine have damaged. Because I “saw something”, I felt obligated to “say something” publically.

The pro-vaccine – and very well-funded – corporate dis-informers call us well-informed vaccine skeptics “Anti-Vaxxers”, a cowardly tactic known as an “ad hominem attack”. Ad hominem attacks are designed to smear an opponent’s point of view when the smearer isn’t capable of refuting it in an open, fair and rational debate. These corporate smearers have very successfully influenced healthcare journalists to repeat their talking points. Most journalists, even those that write about healthcare issues, are not knowledgeable enough to see through corporate subterfuge. In fact, they often use biased CDC or corporate-provided information to write their columns and books.

(The use of the term “conspiracy theorist” is a similarly cowardly ad hominem attack tactic largely used by official government dis-informer groups like America’s multinational corporations, the Deep State ruling groups, the intelligence agencies like the FBI and CIA, (not to mention similar groups like Britain’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad). These organizations are all well-funded secretive organizations that spend most of their time planning real conspiracies against dissidents and other governments and anyone that is interfering with a corporation’s commercial agenda. These groups wish to keep the conspiracies secret by labeling as “conspiracy theorists” the ones who are legitimately trying to figure out what’s happening behind their closed doors.

Or, Dr. Kohls could just be an antivaxer, anti-psychiatry quack and conspiracy theorist.

The Duluth Reader: A wretched hive of antivaccine and antipsychiatry scum and quackery

Mr. Boone is deluding himself if he thinks the Duluth Reader is not a wretched hive of scum and antivax and antipsychiatry quackery as long as he allows Dr. Kohls to publish a weekly column. Other than a man named Peter Johnson, who did a pretty decent job refuting one of Dr. Kohls’ articles, there is basically no other voice on issues of medicine in his weekly reader. Sadly, Boone also provides an example of how you can have significant antiscience and pseudoscience on the left, because the Duluth Reader, much like the other free newspapers that go under the “reader” banner in other cities where I’ve lived, is a progressive publication, definitely left-leaning in its political orientation, as a perusal of its content will rapidly reveal.

In any event, let me finish by putting Mr. Boone and Dr. Kohls on notice. The Duluth Reader and Dr. Kohls are now on my radar, thanks to Dr. Kohls’ foolish decision to republish lies about me. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Duluth Reader and claims made by Dr. Kohls, just as I do for Natural News and a list of quacks that I monitor. I also encourage my readers to let Mr. Boone ([email protected]) know that you don’t appreciate his letting his paper remain a wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery. Basically, the Duluth Reader is fake news about vaccines, psychiatry, and pharma.

Now, the only question is how long it will be before Dr. Kohls finds Mike Adams’ campaign of libel against me from three years ago and starts regurgitating those lies too. You know it’s coming—probably starting tomorrow, when his next column. is due to drop.

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]

75 replies on “Duluth Reader: A wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, thanks to Gary G. Kohls, MD”

Pardon my French, but why aren’t you suing the living fuck out of Kohls and the Duluth Reader? I’m no lawyer, but it looks like a clear case of libel to me.

The courts can provide relief for those who have been wronged. They can also comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Legal disputes aren’t settled based on facts, but instead on interpretations of the law. Lawsuits can be expensive as well as destroying your peace of mind, for both plaintiff and defendant. These are all very good reasons not to sue. In addition I doubt if this publication has enough money to pay substantial damages. Justice would be nice, but the courts are a flawed way of seeking it.

Perhaps the publication doesn’t have money, but the defendant does. Further, judgment can be extended for 10 years, so if the defendant hides their money at the date of trial, they have to continue hiding it for another decade. Since the defendant in this case is an M.D., there may be a presumption that they have or can easily earn enough money to pay off any judgment.

I’d say go for it, When a bad actor gets away with something, they and their cohort learn to do it again. Then have your attorney go back to court and ask why somebody was in earning potential of over 200,000 per year isn’t paying off the judgment.

It’s true that there are multiple “flavors” of anti-psychiatry, but it never ceases to amaze me how many anti-psychiatry groups are suspicious for links to Scientology or preach the same “flavor” of Scientology such that, even if they aren’t at all affiliated with Scientology, they might as well be. In any case, these groups all tend to share several traits: the belief that there is no such thing as mental illness; that psychiatry is torture; that psychiatric medications don’t work; that psychiatric medications are a means of control, not treatment; etc., etc.

Of course, it’s true that the history of psychiatry has some very shameful chapters, but psychiatry today has evolved and become a lot more science-based.

“the belief that there is no such thing as mental illness; that psychiatry is torture; that psychiatric medications don’t work; that psychiatric medications are a means of control, not treatment; etc., etc.”

It happens to match the experience of a subset of patients. It’s the easiest, off-the-shelf, explanation for some of the crazy shit that’s going on. When explaining crazy shit, people often resort to crazy explanations, all the more when they contain some grain of truth that can be inflated to fit scientology-like discourse. For instance, how do you convince a schizophrenic that this is for his own good?

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/schizophrenia/digitally-tracking-patients-schizophrenia-future-here

When you confront patients who haven’t asked to be cared for in the first place with crazy shit like that, guess what their reaction will be? That’s why they all tend to look like scientologists over time to the untrained eye.

For instance, how do you convince a schizophrenic that this is for his own good?

Psssht, you ain’t convincing me that that’s a good development in any sense, and I’m not schizophrenic. I mean, hey, psychoactive drugs that show whether or not they’ve been taken? Sure, there’s no way that any sort of authoritarian governments or corporations or whatever could misuse that at all. Nope, totally far-fetched paranoia there.

the belief that there is no such thing as mental illness

It certainly don’t think it’s as cut-and-dry and scientific as it’s often made out to be. I’ll try to argue that point a little bit better in a little while here; right at the moment I’m somehow still under the influence from an edible last night, my 3yo nephew is over and I keep getting distracted by Octonauts.

that psychiatry is torture

It can certainly seem like it. I remember being really annoyed by constant blood draws, which are always awful for me. And that’s basically a benign thing, although I was weirded out by it at the time. Stuff like physical restraints, seclusion, forced injections, etc., I could go on and on, but it’s not what I would call “treatment.” And psychiatry has been implicated in torture and political repression in, for instance, the USSR.

that psychiatric medications don’t work

Well, not as well or as often as one would hope, or as well or as often as they’re made out to. And true informed consent is very rare in psychiatry.

that psychiatric medications are a means of control

In psych wards they definitely are! I’ve experienced that and I’ve also seen other people who were “causing trouble” or whatever just drugged into an absolute stupor. And polypharmacy is way, way more common than it should be, especially considering that there’s plenty of evidence that loading people up on 5, 6, 7 medications actually affects outcomes negatively. One time when I was in the psych ward I was literally on 10+ GD different thing (the “provider” I had there was an incompetent jerk), including at least two different antipsychotics, which has no benefits.

And I think it’s only natural to be highly critical of a branch of medicine that grants [email protected] physicians so much power over people. If somebody has cancer and they don’t want treatment, even if it means they’re going to die, their oncologist can’t have them locked up in the hospital and force them to get treatment. It’s… weird.

It occurs to me that I wrote something about this that I could go dig up in my emails.

@JP. I understand your point of view. The thing is, they are also there to help you… at least that’s what they want somehow in their twisted ways…

The trouble with a glass half-full is that it’s also half-empty. It’s too tempting to see it only half-full (as the medical establishment claims it to be) or only half-empty (as the scientologists do).

As long as this chasm between perceptions is not bridged properly, you’ll keep having cohorts of terrorized patients that will end up having trouble engaging with healthcare anymore.

I’d wish psychiatry became a scientific non-medical discipline (which it could be in theory) as that would send a clearer message to psychiatric patients that they do not have to fear doctors. There’s many aspects to psychiatric care that are not strictly speaking medical, could be approached scientifically, and it wouldn’t be a disservice to the discipline to put them forward (which does not mean that doctors do not have their place).

I understand your point of view. The thing is, they are also there to help you… at least that’s what they want somehow in their twisted ways…

Oh yeah, most of the psychiatrists I’ve seen have been professionally at least decent and also seem like sincere people who want to do good. It’s a real ball of wax. I did find the email exchange I was thinking of – with my old/favorite psychiatrist back in Michigan – and we bounced a bunch of this stuff back and forth. There’s a ton there, though.

“There’s many aspects to psychiatric care that are not strictly speaking medical, could be approached scientifically, and it wouldn’t be a disservice to the discipline to put them forward ”
They’re called psychologists.
Today there are few Freudians with their couches and noncommittal replies and questions about your childhood teddy bear. Having been sent to a few when I was a kid and I can tell you they’re a waste of carbon. Today you are more likely to encounter cognitive behavioral psychologists, and I wish they’d been around when I needed them. I can tell you that I have seen close up how well it can work. The ones I know are very knowledgeable about meds and what they can and can’t do, and will refer patients when it is appropriate.

@Old Rockin: Nope, I’m not talking about psychologists. I’m thinking of three things: (1) more science done in the direction of social work for instance (2) removing the coercive power away from doctors and give it more to an arbitrator that would occasionally oppose doctor’s will and (3) more critical appraisal of claims of relatives and external actors.

It’s all too easy to get entangled in a web of lies with this system, and lose your autonomy because of wild allegations. This is hardly studied scientifically at all.

I see where you’re coming from. But I’ve seen other things that pushes me into fits of rage up to this day.

I wonder how many “alternative” weekly rags are into promotion of pseudoscience, in addition to depending on ad dollars from woo sellers.

Our local “Free Press” mostly focuses on alleged police evils and the Republican Menace, along with bashing the mainstream newspaper. The worst article I can recall was about a woman allegedly harassed by local authorities, who seemed like a clear case of paranoid schizophrenia. Fortunately they haven’t yet gotten into a froth about vaccines, fluoride or Deep State conspiracies.

If the Duluth Reader eliminated crank articles they’d probably lose most of their meager readership.

“The worst article I can recall was about a woman allegedly harassed by local authorities”

People do sometimes get persecuted. Reality is rather often way wilder than fantasy.

We get some free magazine here, which has a promotor of TCM and acupuncture writing for them. I suppose it is some form of advertisement agreement. Real doctors don’t advertise where I live. So if you see an advertisement for something medical, you can be sure it’s a quack.

It’s unfortunately common for “alternative weekly” papers to have fairly low journalistic standards. Apparently a focus on disseminating unpopular or lesser-known views goes hand-in-hand with being too credulous to actual cranks. Too many editors simply decide that “all viewpoints deserve to be heard,” even in science where there are matters of fact and evidence to be addressed.

I don’t have any suggested solutions for this. Anyone else?

“I don’t have any suggested solutions for this. Anyone else?”

There’s none. Any cure would be worse than the disease. Only way forward is to keep educating people about the difference between knowledge and belief. That’s the basic point that still hasn’t sunk in popular consciousness.

I think it depends on the focus of the “alternative weekly”. My local (The Stranger) has a primary focus on the arts (mostly music, theater, bar, weed, and restaurant reviews) with a counter-culture voice. They don’t really ever talk about medicine (or “medicine”) except the ads for joining clinical trials of PrEP or HIV vaccines or other stuff. It’s also a strongly LGBTQ+ publication, so that may or may not impact the focus. (Dan Savage I think is still an editor).

But I’m pretty sure they also don’t take outside articles (they have a full staff of writers) so that’s probably the biggest difference.

Never fun when someone slams you with outright lies. Years ago had a bogus “report” on me and my prior medical practice posted at an incredibly scummy site called “Rip Off Report”–the posting even including a threat of violence against me and my family (which was reported to the police, fwiw). I wrote the web site owner (who seems even seedier than Mike Adams if such a thing is possible) and his response was he could help me “rehab” my practice’s reputation for $5-10K through a “program” on his web site. Blew an irony meter right there regarding the web site name “Rip Off Report”.

AoA is still the most wretched hive of scum and anti-vaccine quackery. But the Duluth Reader sure looks almost a scummy.

I’ve kind of become used to it.

Basically, I emailed Mr. Boone out of a desire to give him the benefit of the doubt. He failed to be worthy of it. If he had even just tried to address the misinformation in Dr. Kohls’ column honestly, this second post would never have been written.

@ Orac,

Is the use of the nym “Orac,” as an identifier in communications with the Duluth Reader Weekly, a “playful” act? Would Robert Boone (editor) take your request of a correction or retraction more seriously if you used your legal name as the identifier?

Q. What’s the best definition of the nym “Orac.”

A. Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails.

Wait, Dr. Kohl thinks he’s a scientist?

And yes, this really is disingenuous. If you know he posts misinformation, don’t post it. If you think he needs to be challenged, well, you’re the editor.

Exactly. Mr. Boone refers to Dr. Kohls as though his column is a fact of nature that can’t be changed, thus leaving the only option as finding someone to “challenge” him, when Mr. Boone could easily at any time just choose to stop publishing Dr. Kohls’ dangerous misinformation. I have to wonder if, because of his quackery, Dr. Kohls is popular and drives a lot of traffic (and thus advertising dollars) to the Reader website. Either that, or maybe Kohls pays to publish. Of course, it’s also quite possible that Mr. Boone is either down with Dr. Kohls’ quackery or doesn’t care as long as it’s driving clicks and encouraging people to pick up the dead tree edition of the free Reader, increasing circulation and ad revenue.

Apparently Mr. Boone has no background in journalism. He is the owner; he wants controversy to sell ads. That’s why he won’t retract the article. It garners attention, and eyeballs. He doesn’t care about the truth.

“People do sometimes get persecuted. Reality is rather often way wilder than fantasy.”

By this impeccable logic we should respect all conspiracy theories however loony, because there have been real conspiracies y’know.*

*curiously, never any uncovered by Intrepid online amateur sleuths.

@Dangerous Bacon: that’s not what I said. I’m saying “feeling persecuted” is hardly a proof of “not being persecuted”. Nuance. Assuming otherwise stops you from helping people in the right way.

Expect more ravings from antivaxers about Deep State Disinformation Trolls, now that Pinterest has barred vaccination-related searches.

We have had another readers who has been defending you and other physicians disparaged by Dr Kohls which livens up the debate.

Yah, it’s all about the clicks. The Duluth Reader appeals to the “low information” set so IMO, you’ve done what you could to set the record straight and a crappy rag like that isn’t worth more of your time.

This caught my attention:

I count myself among a group of whistle-blowing scientists who have seen through the massive Big Pharma-generated dis-information campaign that is designed to push more and more costly vaccines onto an unsuspecting public.

This saviour mentality goes beyond conspiracy-theory and smack into mental illness. It is a common thread among the rabid anti-vaxxers.

” Yah, it’s all about the clicks”

If you look over Adams’ articles, you’ll discover that sometimes the most bizarre crap gets the highest numbers ( he cites them for his own posts) So this can explain why there are so many essays/ videos about right-wing conspiracy theories/ Trumpocracy/ vaccines and less about making green smoothies these days. It used to be green smoothies on a regular basis ( he sells the best ingredients for them)

Similarly, prn: I guess that anything about vaccines gets them a larger audience. Right now, there are tons of articles/ shows about Wikipedia, sceptics and “bad science” ( like they could tell what’s bad). and vaccines.

Oh thank Dog! The sheer volume of dangerous crap on Pinterest is occasionally terrifying.
For a grad school class on public health and social media I evaluated the type and quality of pins on Pinterest related to several health related search terms. It was mostly a huge collection of fad diets (and recipes for said diets), cleanses (as separate from diets), and essential oils (for the love of Pete I just want to make a bath fizzy!) but there were a few really terrible things like “use this paste to cure your cavities”. Yes, “cure” dental caries. I reported that one (i think as “spam”) because the thought of someone suffering a gaping hole in a tooth because they believed something on Pinterest makes me sick.

Oh, and then there was all the exercise stuff, which runs the gamut from “totally reasonable” to “yeah, no, that’s how people get hurt” to “that’s not physically possible”.

I’m glad they’re changed the reporting (there’s a self-harm category now). Maybe I should dedicate an afternoon to pinning stuff from CDC and the MMWR?

Oh Wow!
I can’t go into detail but it appears that ANOTHER wretched hive of scum and quackery (PRM.fm) has an article about Dr DG today:
I don’t have time to read it now because I have to leave but IT’S THERE.

Oh my G-d! Just dived into prn.fm and Gary Null’s psyche, which I did not know about 10 minutes ago. How is all this still a thing?

Can you be more explicit for this internet ignoramus? I’ve tried multiple searches for “prm.fm” and the article title and been unable to find it.

Sorry. Of course I found it fairly quickly when I looked at prn.fm. What a difference an n instead of an m makes.

Hey, I like this Duluth Reader. Some really good articles that I didn’t know about and that Dr. Khols…….amazing and insightful writing. Thanks for the tip Orac.

[Comment by David Ball] = agreement with the new slogan for Duluth Reader = Synaptogenesis Stops Here.

You also like seeing kids get high fevers and pain, with a possibility of permanent disability by suffering from diseases that are preventable. That makes you a terrible sadistic child hating person.

signed by a mom who had to take care of six month old baby with chicken pox a year before the varicella vaccine was available. Seriously, why do you hate kids? You are an evil man.

Quick summary of the latest prn.fm effusion:

Wilkipedia is wicked, wicked, wicked.
Gary Null is upset at being called an “uber-quack”.
Null et al think it’s entirely possible that more than 36% of all U.S. deaths are caused by Big Medicine, because BM is hiding the statistics.

Most hilarious line: “(Gorski) claims that “grossly exaggerating the scope of the problem” does no one “other than quacks” any favors – but fails to explain how a quack would benefit from the medical community taking steps to address the high rate of error that currently slips by without being reported.”

Gee, how might quacks profit by grossly exaggerating deaths related to the practice of evidence-based medicine???

I was amused to see that Null was trying his damnedest to increase his estimate for the numbers of iatrogenic deaths to a round one million a year, but, yeah, his claim that 36% of all deaths and more deaths than the total number of in-hospital deaths in the US in a year are due to medical errors or iatrogenic causes is so innumerate that it might be fun to take a look at in more depth.

Oh Dangerous One!

Right, woo-meisters wouldn’t profit AT ALL if they scare people away from SBM. No, never.

I listened to the taped broadcast : he read most of the article aloud and topped it off with a rant against Wales and SBM ( 11-40 minutes in) nothing more about Orac.

His MO:
scare people about their unhealthy diets and lifestyles; say medicine, education, media and the government are all corrupt- you can’t trust them. So who will watch out for you?
Then, he offers advice, health retreats and a plethora of supplements, foods, videos and books.

He asserts that he “makes no claims” but then presents testimonials by people who insist that they came to his retreats and left cured ( in slightly different words) and his new (cook) book is entitled Curing the Incurable.
The earlier part of his shows usually showcases “research” that illustrates how foods/ supplements cure and meds harm

Sceptics take note: .he now has a phone number for voice mail and he’ll answer questions on air. Not our questions I’m sure but questions nevertheless,

Sorry about the typo- it’s PRN.fm

SO, I read the article…
–First of all, his assistant is an “investigative reporter” whose name shows up a lot with Chris Hedges at RT. She. like Richard Gale, must clean up his idiotic idioms, perseverative speech and lack of proficiency in English** at least a little.
— Orac is the ” current white-coated superstar” who lacks “clinical experience and board certification outside his limited field of surgical oncology” ***
— he “unconditionally condemns” CAM and alt med as “unproven” ( Well, Duh, yes!)
— discusses Orac’s recent blog about medicine as the third leading cause of death.
— ” iatrogenesis has largely escaped public notice”****
— Dr DG ” glosses over Null as an ‘uber-quack’ without addressing his statistics” and shows a ” near (sic) uncontrollable disdain for practitioners of ” CAM and alt med.( as he well should)
— ” a perfect example of the flawed science and pathological incuriosity of those who prop themselves up as medical experts at Wikipedia”
— Dr DG ” would have ordered Galileo’s arrest”

SRSLY. People.
This is a guy who has an AA in business and a mail order doctorate ( see Wikipedia/ quackwatch/ leephillps.org)
I’m not an MD but I studied bio and physio and believe me, he hasn’t.

HOWEVER, he has admitted that his Wikipedia bio has cost him a book deal, speaking engagement and ( gasp!) SALES!
I’ll check to see if he read the article aloud on his show where he usually adds vicious remarks.

In conclusion: how can he tell if Orac is correct or not: like Jon Snow, he knows nothing.

** which is telling when his first and only language IS English
*** wasn’t Orac a general surgeon first?
**** that’s why they taught us about it in the 1980s

More on this:

Today, the hoary old woo-meister ( opening minutes of show) revealed his Meister Plan!
— his lawyers are sending a letter ( which will be posted at PRN) to Jimmy Wales about the atrocities he’s committed ( bios that say alties believe in BS); he’s hiring TEN ( 10) additional lawyers because “other individuals” are also doing harm to
” individuals” in the same way. There will be law suits aplenty!

Quiver and quake in your Pharma-bought Ferragamos or Louboutins, Sceptical friends!

-btw- he’s already tried to sue Wikipedia for 100,000,000 USD and the case was tossed:see Two Suits by Null Fail/ Case watch

Snort. Dr Kohls thinks he’s so special. As though most of the “270” new vaccines in various stages of research would ever be offered to him.
Yo, Mr Dr Guy! Most of those vaccines are for tropical diseases, like dengue and Ebola and chikungunya and cholera and Zika. Most of which aren’t relevant for people living in Minnesota (who presumably don’t travel).

What a maroon.

Plus (or minus) all the vaccines which will not pan out, those who are simultaneous developed by different companies (obviously you are only going to take one)…
Similarly to your exemple with the tropical diseases, some vaccines may be developed to target allergies or some other specific condition.
There was a project about cat allergies, a decade ago, somewhere in Ontario (I learned about it through a recruiting flyer for volunteers to test it). I don’t know its status now.
Well, Zika did come to Florida, and given the sub-par job the current US administration is doing with managing health agencies and medical research, don’t chalk out Minnesota as a zone for mosquito-borne diseases. Strangers things may happen.

Although I’ll say, not a maroon, just a con-man good at manipulating others through fearmongering.
Um, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Maybe off-topic….Dr. Kohls used to publish a newsletter distributed by e-mail many, many years ago, and I somehow found myself on it. I was recovering from the baffling suicide of my gifted but very troubled stepbrother when he started commenting on the new ban against prescribing SSRIs to UK teenagers because of suicide risk. I wrote him to say that my forty-something stepbrother had killed himself according to his clinical psychologist sister by deliberately taking an overdose of Prozac.

Well, blimey, the guy wrote me back and said it was more than likely because Prozac is just a dangerous drug that will probably be shown to trigger the same kind of suicidal ideation that they were seeing in teenagers. He went on and on about how psychiatry had lost its way, these drugs were profoundly dangerous, etc.

Long story short…it emerged soon afterward that my stepbrother had had a severe psychotic break and had always been psychotic. His sister confirmed that those problems went way, way back and that Prozac just happened to be handy when he fell apart. She thought he probably didn’t even realize he was gobbling up something that could kill him. It was purely coincidental that some prescriber observed depression and never saw signs of psychosis.

But Kohls ignored all that when I responded again to correct my original message and kept harping on the evils of Prozac. I had one more exchange with him in which I made clear that his sister was a clinical psychologist (!) and was one of the few who knew that his basic problem was schizophrenia. Never heard back from him. Big surprise.

I wrote him to say that my forty-something stepbrother had killed himself according to his clinical psychologist sister by deliberately taking an overdose of Prozac.

That’s a whole lot of Prozac.

Yeah, one of the major clinical reasons to choose SSRIs over older antidepressants is that it’s pretty much impossible to overdose on them.

Benzos actually mess a lot of people up. I had a friend half-heartedly mention taking all the benzos in the place, which actually did worry me since he’s pretty isolate and is quite a bit of a drinker.

He’s still alive though, and no longer suicidal, at least for now.

The withdrawals from those can actually be physically dangerous, though.

I got loaded up on them quite a bit when I was in psych wards for mania. They certainly do help quell agitation and so on, but not actually in a fundamentally different way from alcohol.

It wasn’t just Prozac. That’s just what they found the most of. Kathy thinks it was probably a whole cocktail of things. I don’t know the details. There was an autopsy w/toxicology, but I wasn’t privy to the results.

My point was that like a lot of the quackeroos, they hang onto their delusions even when you have clear evidence that they’re either just wrong or barking up the wrong tree. That’s what Kohls did in our brief exchange.

Who is “they” here?

At the risk of potentially being very insensitive, why was this person on a dose of solely Prozac when he had been known to “be psychotic” for such a long time?

I’m sorry, but even good back and reading a couple details that I missed, none of this makes any sense to me based on my experience and knowledge.

It wasn’t just Prozac. Kathy thinks it was a whole cocktail. There was an autopsy w/toxicology, but I don’t know exactly what they found. Sorry if this duplicates. Computer problems right now.

Sorry, let me clarify. No one except his sister really knew that he was psychotic, and the person who prescribed several anxiolytics and antidepressants did not know him very well and had just started seeing him. Probably had no idea that he had this whole other history because Rob knew he had that going on in the background and was good at hiding it. He lost his job and then his marriage broke down, and apparently that triggered a break. I don’t know the details. He also had a long history of alcohol abuse. He got thrown off a plane once for harassing other passengers. There was a lot going on there.

As for benzos, I know of one old friend who took almost a year to get off them after long-term use (and how did that happen?!). He said it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

I’m confused as to how somebody can be apparently constantly psychotic for years and hide it. I’ve been actively psychotic for short periods in my life (I’m counting genuinely bizarre delusions here, not what I actually consider to some extent genuine religious/spiritual experiences), and it was absolutely impossible to hide. You can’t hide psychosis. I just really don’t understand how that story makes any sense.

As far as benzos, yeah, they can be extremely hard to kick. Like I said, the fundamental chemical action is really the same as alcohol. If you’re not careful or supervised when coming off of them, you can even get seizures and die. Not something to mess with.

No, my point is that he was not constantly psychotic. He had episodes of complete dissociation from reality but was perfectly functional most of the time. That’s why he was able to hide it. He was one of IBM’s elite programmers beginning way back and had a mainframe in his home pre-PC era. This was a highly productive guy. IBM supported him up the wazoo during periods of serious alcohol abuse, but eventually they cut him loose. I don’t think they ever knew he had this other set of problems. Then his wife left him and he just fell apart on many levels.

I personally don’t think he was ever correctly diagnosed, and his sister, the clinical psychologist, is not willing to discuss it much. It sounds more like bipolar disorder to me, but I’ll never know.

It’s hard to have a definite opinion, but it shows how easily these prescription drugs can be mishandled by both doctor and patient in reality. To me its disingenuous to believe that, if he started falling apart on multiple levels after his marriage broke down, an SSRI would fix things. Not that it would hurt if he had depression as opposed to bipolar disorder, but more often than not, it doesn’t replace a support network falling apart.

Moreover, relatives are hardly unbiased source of information.

It is a pleasure to hear from you. To start with, our publication features writers of many interests and beliefs (many we don’t agree with…) and that is part of the reason we have a wide and diverse readership. We encourage all our reader to participate in the discussion and your response is just what we need. We have had another readers who has been defending you and other physicians disparaged by Dr Kohls which livens up the debate. On that note, may we publish your letter? Myself, I’d prefer we had another voice in this matter and wish there were more to rebutt the other times when Kohls strays from “his lane” Please let us know if it would be alright.

Boone is just gleefully rubbing his hands at the possibility of being able to drag the original “article” by Kohls out into a multi-article spanning argument and milking it for all it’s worth. In his mind’s eye he can see the hordes of readers standing around the two pugilists chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” and it’s probably making him a little aroused just thinking about it.

He no doubt knows full well that Kohls is a crackpot – but he’s a crackpot that produces just the right sort of clickbait at a time when vaccines are a hot topic. No doubt Kohls’ dross has pulled significant traffic (at least in terms of what the Duluth Reader normally gets) to the site (both from cranks and those looking to rebut) – which has probably translated into increased adwords revenues for the Duluth Reader. Publishing Orac’s response would just give him more of the same and keep on milking that teat.

It is, probably in part because Adams sells radiation detectors and iodine products to protect consumers from all those nasty rads drifting over from Fukushima to the United States.

My favorites are the “Nascent Iodine Preparedness Pack” and the 5-in-1 Geiger counter (it also detects nitrates and some other stuff, supposedly). Only $299!

For a long time now I have also wondered why the Duluth Reader, agrees to publish the comments of Gary Kohls, since, other than his column, Reader regularly challenges various issues raised by informed contributors who can explain and refute the articles of columnists who rightfully oppose uninformed ideologies, and lets readers become aware of just how wrong pseudo scientist can be. Yes, Reader has included a few columnists who don’t have both feet on the curb (so to speak) but most of its articles seem to feature scientific knowledge appropriately. However, successfully rebutting charlatans requires more than op-eds provided by laymen like me–Reader still needs the input of those who can effectively block all of the false facts disseminated anti-vaxxers!

So,Orac, as a layman with no special scientific background in biochemistry or genetics etc. I would welcome occasional articles from those who understand all the complexities of our bodies natural defense systems and who can provide very convincing rebuttals to people with Gary Kohl’s mindset. I also understand your insistence on Reader providing you with an appropriate retraction, which would expose the deceptive nature of many of
those who lied about your comments and deliberately concocted pseudoscientific arguments. But even a single article explaining why Gary Kohls is dead wrong about vaccines, could potentially convince many who are inclined to appreciate real and convincing facts.

In the last few weeks editor Robert Boone has generously published several of my articles as local views, so I’m glad that Reader does not censor any who seek to rebut Gary Kohls. And though it provides a forum for pseudoscientists, it does not reject those who seek to rebut the notions embrace by those who are skeptics and/or anti-vaxxers.

Perhaps yoiu could submit and article which explains your disappointment with those who Reader publishes– even though Science based medicine has long ago proven them to be completely wrong.

With a past of doing well scinece and math classes which I took nearly 50 years ago, I still believe I have retained enough knowledge to understand the need for genuine peer reviewed research papers and the importance of the scientific method, which, though perhaps imperfect, still does a fine job of separating quacks from authentic researchers and doctors. But just one article from you, (besides the one Reader recently published,) could greatly help spread actual medical knowledge, and it would be a welcome addition for people like me, who lack the means to employ truly convincing arguments, due to my sketchy knowledge of biochemistry and immunology etc. I’m not suggesting that you make it a regular habit of responding to Reader, but even one more article from someone like you could make all the difference in the world.

Sincerely, Peter W. Johnson
+

I’m sorry, but did you see Dr. Kohl’s latest? After Dr. Kohls smeared Dr. Offit and me with lies, I responded by deconstructing his ad hominem attacks and lies. So what does he respond with: More antivax nonsense and ad hominem attacks without admitting or addressing his misattribution to me. I understand where you’re coming from and applaud your efforts, but, no, I will not even consider writing anything for the Duluth Reader unless and until it either corrects or retracts Dr. Kohls’ lies about me. In fact, I might even fire back from my preferred media. The Duluth Reader is beyond hope, as is Dr. Kohls. If you search for “vaccine” on the Reader’s website, almost every article that the search returns is antivaccine nonsense from Dr. Kohls.

http://duluthreader.com/articles/2019/02/28/16160_internet_trolls_attack_anyone_exposing_the-25682-1

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