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Happy Holidays!

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Respectful Insolence readers Happy Holidays! I’m taking a few days off from blogging, but will be back Friday or Monday, depending on my mood.

It’s Christmas Eve, and the holiday season is now upon us. This cranky clear Plexiglass box of multicolored blinking lights wishes all of his readers a happy holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate this time of year.

In the meantime, Orac is going to take a few days to recharge his circuits. He’s not sure if he’ll be back Friday or Monday, but he will be back. In the meantime, play nice in the comments. He will be checking in every now and then.

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]

116 replies on “Happy Holidays!”

Happy holidays everyone, and here’s a repost of a parody of “A visit from St Nicholas”.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the House,
Everyone felt shitty, even the mouse.
Mum at the brothel, Dad smoking Grass,
I’d just settled down with a nice piece of arse,
when all through the window there came such a clatter,
I sprang from my lay to see what was the matter.
Then out on the lawn I saw a huge prick.
I knew right away it must be St. Nick.
He came down our chimney like a bat out of Hell.
I knew in an instant the fucker had fell.
He stuffed all our stockings with whiskey and beer,
and a pink plastic dildo for my brother the queer.
He rose up the chimney with a thunderous fart.
The son of a bitch blew our fireplace apart!
He cursed and he swore as he went on his way,
“Piss on you all! It’s been a hell of a day!”

Sorry, science and vaccines work even if you don’t understand it. Now stop whining and come up with those PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the diseases. Or be considered a sadistic child hater who loves to see kids suffer from high fevers, pneumonia, muscle spasms, etc.

Still pushing your lies and mis information even in this holiest of seasons eh Dorrie Dear?

Not big on knowledge of religions, are you, Milky? The uncontrollable giggling was a lovely present, thank you.

“Not big on knowledge of religions, are you, Milky? The uncontrollable giggling was a lovely present, thank you.”

Oh gee! I hadn’t noticed the latent, or blatent, antisemitic trope in Mik’s statement.

I still need to grow up and learn to start suspecting the obvious…

A friend of mine across the bridge invited me to a Seder a while back; I (jokingly) said, “idk man, G-d might set me on fire or something,” and he goes, “what are you, a bush?”

A happy holiday not just to you Orac for magnificent, relentless industry in providing such detailed and reasoned analysis in your anti-woo essays but also to most of the contributors who also add some very valuable additional expertise to the ‘debate’.

Orac (a.k.a. Mr. rate-limiting step) writes,

He will be checking in every now and then.

MJD says,

It really does matter to all of us in auto-moderation. 🙁

Be true to “Happy Holidays,” give everyone instant access to the minions.

Hey everybody! Things came together in a funny way. I kind of don’t feel like telling the story, just because it would kind of ruin the magic. But there’s presents under the tree, my stocking’s stuffed, and I think everybody’s going to have some good laughs when they figure out how everything happened.

Eh, there’s really no “completion.” I’ve been on HRT for six months, but, I mean, it’s puberty, basically. You know. At 31. Lmao.

(Well, soon to be 32.)

Happy Holidays and congratulations! From a fellow journeyman through the joy of body hair, chest acne, and vocal cracking. At 43. 😮

My journey included some other growth. Luckily I didn’t have much body hair (at least not on unwelcome places) because growing goes better than disapearing.

Yes, electrolysis is no fun. Not sure how it is done nowadays. They also seem to have to do it on the downside, which wasn’t done when I went in transition. I should ask a friend of mine. Times have changed.

Today I read an interview with Sam Bettens, former singer for K’s Choice about his transition. Interesting piece.

Yeah, the downside bit has to do with the surgery stuff coming out the best; surgery discourse isn’t my favorite, but I’ve been subjected to a lot of it. (Not interested in anything below the belt myself.)

Happy holidays to Orac and his many, merry minions.
Here’s to a new year of destroying woo and anti-vax inanity on a large scale. Every time we deconstruct altie BS an angel gets its wings.. no wait, there are no angels, we just deconstruct woo.

I was very surprised to find that several really excellent Moslem-run restaurants I know close early tonight. I know about the Italian places. But I did find a Turkish place open until 10 and we can see a movie. So I can at least avoid holiday television a little.

Happy New Year, Denice!
I enjoy your continued participation throughout the year.

Mark (needle stabber of all things in Peds).

Season’s greetings to all.

Enjoy the cheer of the season, and try to ignore the idiots for the day at least.

A Happy Holiday would mean you start telling the TRUTH about Vaccines and Other Drugs and medical procedures that HARM People. Will you Mr. Orac start telling this truth in this season?

I mean, technically I did, but it was all sh!t I had around my room. Oh yeah, I still have a stocking to open in the morning. Which is… soon, I guess. Do I have to wait?

@ Thomas Milcarek

Yes, there are medical procedures and interventions that do harm people. And médical doctors tend to brush it under the carpet.

I hardly believe that vaccines are the miracle panacea some present them to be. However, if you want to start talking about the TRUTH, in capitalised letters, you’d better start making your criticisms much more solid than what I’ve read from antivaxxers over the years.

Then please edumacate us on what is the “truth”. You can start by providing the PubMed studies by reputable qualified researchers that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the diseases? Does the MMR vaccine cause pneumonia in one out of twenty doses? Does the DTaP vaccine cause death in one in thirty five doses? That was the kill rate of actually getting diphtheria in the former Soviet Union states in the 1990s:

Failure to come up some actual science and whining about “truth” will be proof positive that you are a sadistic child hater who likes to see kids suffer from those diseases with high fevers, pneumonia, seizures, unable to breathe, muscle spasms, encephalitis, etc and a good chance of permanent disability.

Chris- after long term reading of responses such as that of Thomas, and many times over described on this blog, it is apparent no matter how rational, scientific or philosophical your reply every serious reader here knows of the woo-generators ‘inbuilt’ immunity to any rational discourse: they are bomb-proof. Those same irrationalists seem to delight in invoking ‘heated’ responses from those who know well their arrogant ignorance. It satisfies their warped psychology.

Thank you for your concern. I know I will not change his or other sadistic child haters, but hope to bring light to those on the fence. I say this as a mom who had to take care of three miserable kids with chicken pox a year before that vaccine was available. One of those kids was just six months old and inconsolable. My oldest is autistic, and while he had some crying issues as an infant, they were not has bad as his infant sibling with chicken pox (his main issue with chicken pox was wetting his bed in the middle of the night… no problem, I was awake dealing with his youngest sibling, so of course I could change the sheets and start yet another load of laundry, seriously I could have done without that month from Hades). Only sadistic fools think it is better to have severely sick babies than whatever the “vaccine cause issue” of the week is… and it is not autism (if you disagree, then sign up here:

After at least eighty kids dying from measles in Samoa I have lost my patience with idiots like Mr. Milcarek, Ms. White and a few others. I will now call them as I see them: sadistic child haters who love to see children suffer from vaccine preventable diseases that include high fevers, diarrhea, muscle spasms, pneumonia, meningitis and a good chance of permanent disability or death.

I’m thinking of a young friend (Gulf-war veteran) who believes his Systemic Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis occured because of the military anthrax vaccine(s). In his mid thirties, he’s 100% disabled by military standards and angry in that his attorney has been denied access to his vaccine records.

MJD says,

Are there reasons military vaccine records are withheld? I’ve read the squalene adjuvant may not have been used in the military anthrax vaccine(s).

@ Orac’s minions,

What would you say to this vaccinated soldier?


I would at least say to him that I support, 99% of time, people who want access to their records.

Medical secrecy is supposed to protect patients. It is not supposed to protect medical authorities as it can be weaponised to immunise them against criticism. Which is THE cardinal sin if you have a scientific worldview (no matter how misguided may it be…).

I’m thinking of a young friend (Gulf-war veteran) who believes his Systemic Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis occured because of the military anthrax vaccine(s). In his mid thirties….

I take it that you’re either referring to some other “Gulf War” than Desert Storm or bungling the attention-seeking.

I think this soldier friend of yours has access to his vaccine records. The VA has complete medical records on eligible service members, and the member often has a copy. My sister has her complete medical records from her time in the Air Force.

What his lawyer wants, and can’t get, is information on adverse reactions among military members, or raw VAERS data. Since those are not available to the general public, they are probably proprietary in some way. Yes, medicine can be classified; penicillin was during WWII to keep a useful tool out of the hands of an enemy.

Even if he could get that information, I fail to see how he would be able to sue the military before going through the Vaccine Court first. Maybe one of our resident attorneys might have insight on that. But just a thought. Also, there is a specific compensation program for this vaccine, the Countermeasure Injury Compensation Program. It’s similar to the Vaccine Court, but specific to vaccines mandated as a response to pandemics, bioterrorism, etc.

I imagine it’s the same old story: government program offers a specific compensation amount, and the lawyer wants more. Your friend wants to be classified 100% totally and permanently disabled by the VA, and the VA is balking (I have no opinion on whether he should be, just that the military often balks at this).


I think you’re right. Our disabled soldier is desperate, and dying a painful death in part because the vaccine learning-curve is shallow for immuno-individuality.

“Will you Mr. Orac start telling this truth in this season?”

Great, now I’ve got a new earworm (to the tune of “Mr. Sandman”).

Mr. Orac, tell me the truth
Should dry martinis have any vermouth?
Give us antivaxers a brain and a clue
Then maybe we”ll stop bugging you

Mr. Orac, I’m so alone
Don’t have no science to call my own
So please write for your magic blog
AoA’s left me in a fog

Dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

Mr. Orac, why conspire
to hide the genius of Lyons-Weiler?
Mike Adams and Mercola tell me the news
Rampant disease is what we want to choose

Mr. Orac…

(ad nauseam)

Happy Holidays to all.

Chris-I think I understand fully your detestation of the likes of Thomas Milcarek, and your totally justifiable reasons. I make no comment about what you should do about it nor to anybody else. Most responses here on Orac’s blog are replete with information, challenges to provide evidence etc.. I simply point out my view that the anti-vaxxers and their ilk seem to delight in continuing to receive angry responses with parody and ridicule. It can be great fun to do this but it is also fueling their warped psychology with equal delight. To me this seems a very difficult dilemma in choosing the most valuable approach to contest their dangerous nonsense.
I also have had some bad experience with my first daughter, born 1970, who I did not have vaccinated for measles. She was infected and it developed. Apart from complete listlessness, malaise and bodily spots her whole face became distorted with the illness. I took photos but have never showed them. She couldn’t eat for a complete week. She had nothing but water and dilute unsweetened grape juice. Her recovery after a week was amazing. My daughter was back. My wife and I had been very worried indeed. My granddaughter ( now 9yrs old) has had the full schedule of vaccines. I will bore you no more. Happy New Year

@Leonard, the reason we engage Greg, natalie, and other antivaxxers is not to convince them, it’s to convince the fence sitters. When people see antivaccine claims refuted with good evidence, when they notice the antivaxxers are responding with anecdotes and “information” that doesn’t support their claims, they realise that they’re wrong and dishonest. That is why we engage.

Julian- I am not questioning WHY you engage nor that you should engage Natalie and other anti-vaxxers. It has to be done and is done as well as anywhere that I have seen on Orac’s blog with it’s contributors. I do have doubts about the effectiveness of the additional parody, ridicule,insults, humor and anger against the ‘enemy’ when the overall objective is claimed to be educating the fence-sitters to a more sensible, informed behavior. It may be fun but is it effective in achieving the claimed objective? I think there is a real unresolved problem in how BEST to ‘convert’ the undecided.

“It can be great fun to do this but it is also fueling their warped psychology with equal delight.”

I have no problem with the idea of making antivaxxers happy. It is not because they have a warped psychology that they are any less human as sentient beings. If they enjoy the ridicule and we enjoy ridiculing them, then let’s not lie to ourselves: we have a common interest…

Same kind of non-dilemma we face with islamic assholes of the worst kind: if they are dead-bent on reaching paradise, then we have good news for them: some of us are delighted in helping them reach their destination very speedily.

When we have common interests, well… we have common interests.

F68.10 -you have clearly said of your common interest in having fun and that is probably the same for some of the contributors, and of course what’s wrong with that. It is certainly entertaining for many readers. But do you think that the fence-sitter on reading this part of that approach will be more convinced of the correctness of your argument than if it were excluded? Or is that not really your motive at all while having fun.?
It would be foolish in this forum to expand the argument in dealing with Islamic extremists. Just to say that sending them to heaven does not solve the problem of the Koran and it’s interpretations resulting in violence even though it gives you happiness.
And with that -a Happy New Year to you.

@Léonard Sugarman

I do not believe gence-sitters are fundamentally keen on observing us sugarcoating our differences.

There is a time for respectful argumentation.

There also is a time for savage irony.

@ Leonard Sugarman:

I’ll second what Julian said: we write for the fence-sitters, those who nearly agree with us already and those unsure. So of course, when we counter anti-vaxxers/ woo-meisters with data and information, many of us also resort to sarcasm, parody and insults partially to entertain ourselves and others and to express our true feelings. I doubt that this levity is detrimental for educating new arrivals although I have never seen any data about this possibility: you see, Orac has done this for years and I imagine he would discard anything that research has shown to be ineffective, AS you may know, sarcasm and parody are evidence of executive functioning and who doesn’t want that?

Orac’s critics ( I am most familiar with Null and Adams and a few anti-vaxxers) may focus on how he uses comedy to tear their woe-ful arguments apart whilst trying to ridicule him HOWEVER as psychologists who study development know, kids’/ people’s intellectual abilities are reflected in their efforts at creating comedy, writing or other modes of self- expression, thus the results are usually strained, juvenile and/ or abysmal in general as well as lacking research and data.

There is data that shows that parents wary of vaccines are more convinced by other parents; stories than they are by professionals’ advice so many vaccine supporters enlists parents as well as scientists and officials. Anecdotes that contradict data ( e.g. AoA style “vaccines caused my baby’s autism”) obviously are not the same as anecdotes that reflect research. Studies show that anti-vaxxers may become even more adamant when reading opposing material.

I think that comedy has its place and may be a way to deal with the long term effort of trying to oppose dis-information FOR YEARS and makes Orac’s writing fun as well as educational. One of the best profs I ever had ( who taught developmental psych) was also one of the funniest- jokes and puns can be useful as mnemonics as well.

I should add that Orac’s method must be rather effective in countering woo/ anti-vax, because a well-known woo-meister and his assistants/ lawyers have written 70 essays attacking Orac and other sceptics and keep sending irate letters to Wikipedia to complain about his bio which is based upon sceptics’ work ( see PRN).Also Natural News. So if they are pissed, Orac must be doing something right.

Denis-I cannot disagree with your view and opinion of Oracs immense contribution to countering woo of many kinds and his often humorous style ( as with others also) With little research on the most effective way to persuade fence-sitters your opinion of the value of ‘savage irony’ may prove to be correct. I doubt it. I enjoy immensely your approach but I have no motive in the persuasion, preferring to leave it to those more knowledgeable and experienced. I hope your approach has the desired results and thus allay my doubts. Nobody here will change their approach one jot in the light of anything I say.

F68.10- Well I know nothing of who the fence-sitters wish to ‘listen’ to. There must be a wide spectrum. I simply have a suspicion that the savage irony, as displayed in abundance in this forum will not have the desired effect of persuading fence-sitters to dismount the fence on the ‘right’ side.I hope the respectful argumentation will persuade.But you seem to have made clear that persuasion is not your primary motive.

@Leonard Sugarman

“Persuasion” is my main motive in quite another number of places where I do happen to expose my opinion. Many of my real world interpersonal activities do have this aspect of furthering science, rationality, and critical thinking.

I specifically stress the importance of this in relation to medicine, because people really ought to be aware of how much it impacts their lives. Science is indeed crucial for good medicine.

However, I have witnessed the extent to which medicine, in practice, can behave like a brutal and dogmatic theocracy where bullshit cannot be challenged by the patient who is the object of bullshit allegations taken to be facts for, in my case, a rather weird reason.

That’s why I’m very serious when hearing doctors talking about science…

So I’m not your typical anti-antivaxxers as I do not mind being called “pro-disease”. I simply positively H-A-T-E bullshit, and I’m not mincing words about it.

My goal is not pushing for vaccination: I do not care if people die. My only goal is to make people think harder about bullshit they hear and bullshit they tell themselves. I’m pro-disease, but hey! I’m not bigotted against anti-disease people! As long as they don’t interfere uninvited in my own medical affairs…

Now, you know where I stand.

Thanks for making that clear. Please by all means find yourself a corner to die in since you seem to think health care providers have nothing to offer you but bull shit

Thank you Panacea. I really do appreciate that kind of talk. If health care providers where more willing to ignore me than curing me of whatever fad of the moment, I’m pretty sure I would have led a much happier life. With a much les “callous” mentalité.

I heartily welcome your death wish. Glad we are on the same page!

Denis-Orac is doing a great deal right but in spite of the anti-Orac brigade the point I raise is not addressed by this antagonism of anti-vaxxers and their acolytes. Again, my point is about what type of communication is most persuasive to fence-sitters.Should savage irony ( I like that most apt phrase) be a component of that dialogue? Might it be counter productive?

@ Leonard Sugarman:

I don’t know if we know that: most research I have seen about communicating SBM focuses upon other factors .

I DO know that over the years Orac has gained quite a reputation amongst sceptics and real world news sources that totally infuriates anti-vaxxers and woo-folk which can frequently also be observed here in the comment section. They insult his personality and intelligence ( ha! THAT in itself is hilarious!) and try to accuse him of being “in it for the money” ** whilst many anti-vax sites exist through DONATION ( ads and selling books, products) and woo-meisters may be worth 100M USD ( Mercola; see WaPo story), own 2 country estates and midtown NYC real estate ( Null) and run internet empires and ranches ( Adams)

I try to write in a manner that lets readers continue even when the going gets rough ( details about scam artists) so I sometimes try to be a little lighter. If you can keep readers going through the long slog ( and often, science IS a long slog) they might then actually finish your article. Orac’s writing is filled with details and references so I imagine he wants to do something similar plus it’s fun. Personally, I find nothing wrong with insulting a woo-meister’s looks or an anti-vaxxer’s misinformation even though it might be juvenile because that woo-meister might be selling elixirs of youth ( when he looks like the Cryptkeeper) and that anti-vax mother identifies herself as an “educator” when she is misleading vulnerable, young parents about children’s health.
One of the best uses of comedy is when these “educators” or “investigative reporters’ get simple facts – that anyone can find in 2 minutes- totally,irrevocably wrong.

** a doctor/ surgeon can make loads of money in many other ways that are much easier and take less time and effort..

Denice-I agree with most you say and have said similar with lesser force and detail. If you think that a light approach can sometimes get a reader through some difficult science then we are as one on that. But I read much stronger versions than ‘light’ where the contributors descend to ad hominum attacks in the same vein as that of the ant-vaxxers. I understand it, the emotion at their crazy narrative but I question whether that part of the approach endears the fence-sitter to the rational side argument.Can it help to allay their ‘fears’?

@ Leonard Sugarman:

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is political research about whether insults work in campaigns- and I suspect it might be individually-based,: some candidates and their followers might relish it but it might turn other voters away. If Trump insults a candidate, it might actually help him with many voters but if another candidate said the same thing, it might ruin their chances. If Trump called Democrats “deplorable’ many would applaud.
But then, he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and they’d approve.

I think that –
a. `fence sitters vary. Some would be put off by snark. Some will like it.
B. There are other audiences besides fence sitters. For example, the advocates may need the snark to keep their emotional balance in what is often a pretty hard struggle.

I think I’m repeating points already made by different people here.

F68.10 -well ‘hate ‘ is rather a strong emotion, not conducive to long term health, being likely to stimulate a stress syndrome. But if you are pro-disease then you are within a feedback loop that should satisfy you. I agree with your basic sentiment about bullshit, from wherever it derives but some of it has greater consequence than others.Iirrationality is a major part of the human condition, so play it cool dude.
Much of what you say strikes me as weird. You have an ‘input’ in medicine yet you don’t care if people die due to lack of vaccination. Rather callous I think.

Which is why I don’t like you, F68.10. Because the kind of callousness you so proudly proclaim impacts innocent people when it becomes real world policy. When infants too young to be vaccinated, the immunocompromised, or the elderly are exposed to people who refuse to listen to health care providers or would indulge in some kind of libertarian, Randian free for all, then people can die. People can suffer permanent disability. People just suffer.

As a health care provider, I have a duty to protect the public. That’s why I teach evidence based care to my nursing students. I’m pretty earthy here, and not much less so with them (a bit less profanity as I do have to keep it professional, but my students understand my meaning perfectly). I have had students into woo present quackery as if it were real medicine in my classroom . . . after being explicitly instructed not to. I had no qualms about correcting any misperceptions about where the medical science stood on what those students presented. Those students didn’t like it but they weren’t in a position to challenge it given it the explicit instructions they had been given. Most of my students, thankfully, get it. Nurses have a great responsibility; we are in a position of public trust and therefore have an obligation not to abuse that trust by giving patients misinformation or promoting quackery.

That, Leonard, is why I won’t be a fence sitter and I won’t sugar coat my opinions when it comes to quackery and woo, or antivaxxers. The stakes are just too damn high.

That’s the bullshit F68.10 refers to. I’m sure he likes to think it’s something else, but its really not. A patient can disagree with the advice their health care provider gives them. I haven’t always agreed with what my providers have said to me. That’s why it’s actually a good idea sometimes to get a second opinion. Doing so does not make what the first provider says to you bullshit, nor does it if the second provider disagrees with the first. Doctors are human beings who can only do the best they can with what the patient tells them. If I had a nickel for every time a patient told me one thing, and the doctor something completely different . . . .

You’re no sage, F68.10. Your attitude does nothing to improve the problems you have with our health care system, which makes you just as much a part of the problem as anti-vaxxers and quacks.

@ Panacea

“Which is why I don’t like you, F68.10.”

Which is perfectly your right, and not something I care much about.

“Because the kind of callousness you so proudly proclaim impacts innocent people when it becomes real world policy.”

Wrong: my callousness is of such a peculiar type that I believe it has absolutely no impact on real world policy. A rabid antivaxxer is not callous, quite the contrary: he cares about kids and therefore promotes his shit the whole world around. We’re not in the same business, and we don’t play by the same rules, me and them.

“People just suffer.”

(Yawn…) Yes, people “just suffer”. Is being callous a way to ignore this fact? Absolutely not. Is being callous a way to avoid discussing these real issues? Absolutely not. Being callous is an efficient way of not being carried by emotions, which distorts judgements.

“As a health care provider, I have a duty to protect the public.”

As long as you know that this precise attitude, when uncritical, is a mental mechanism that may push you into being an unwilling accomplice of Munchausen by proxy, I have no problem with it.

“That’s the bullshit F68.10 refers to. I’m sure he likes to think it’s something else, but its really not.”

I’m not really sure what you’re referring to, so I cannot comment.

“If I had a nickel for every time a patient told me one thing, and the doctor something completely different . . . .”

If I had a nickel for every medical nonsense I’ve endured since I’ve been a toddler…

“You’re no sage, F68.10.”

Where did I claim that?

“Your attitude does nothing to improve the problems you have with our health care system, which makes you just as much a part of the problem as anti-vaxxers and quacks.”

OK. Now tell me: what should I do to “improve the problems I have with our health care system”? Give me the science explaining how the person abused through Munchausen by proxy can stop that kind of abuse on his own together with the aftermath the healthcare system joyfully indulges in with no self-criticism whatsoever?

In that context, vaccines, yes, honestly, they’re not exactly the kind of problem I worry too much about. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m not on the side of the fence you seem to want to believe I am on…

So unless you wish to dive into the topic of that kind of specific abuse, I believe we should cut the conversation here: You’re welcome not to like me. As if someone as callous as me cared anyway about your opinion.

OK, F68.10, keep displaying your ignorance. Munchausen by proxy? Are you kidding me? Are you actually accusing health care providers of torture for their own psychological needs?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You start from the position that physicians (and other HCPs) are in it for themselves. That’s extremely cynical, and requires more supporting evidence than pointing to a few assholes or your own bad experiences in healthcare. When you do that, you’re really not much better than the typical antivaxxer who points to a doctor they didn’t like and overgeneralizes to encompass all of healthcare broadly. It’s lazy, dishonest thinking.

“Being callous is an efficient way of not being carried by emotions, which distorts judgements.” Wrong. To be callous means to have an insensitive or cruel disregard for others. You cannot claim to avoid a distorted judgement by being callous, because by definition callousness is a distorted position from which to form a judgement. And oh, the irony . . . it leads exactly to the very behavior in doctors you decry.

“’You’re no sage, F68.10.’ Where did I claim that?” In that direct language? Nowhere. In your general attitude, with every word you write. You speak of things you really don’t understand in a pseudo-intellectual manner designed to convince people you understand healthcare, and want to see it improved when you really just want to discourage people from modern medicine because of your own personal dislikes. You’re really not that hard to see through.

But apparently you care enough about my opinion to write a rather prolonged response to it. Interesting.

@ Panacea

Do you really want to get this discussion rolling?

Here? And now?


I might start calling you “Mommy”… (assuming you’re female, which I’m not entirely sure of…)

“A rabid antivaxxer is not callous, quite the contrary: he cares about kids”

Bullshit. There is no evidence at all that milcarek, mjd, or the other ass-clowns lying about the dangers of vaccines give one whit about the welfare of anyone, children or adult.

They’re doing it because they want to be seen as important and brave for espousing “truth” to others as conspiracy minded as they are.

dean writes,

“There is no evidence at all that milcarek, mjd, or the other ass-clowns lying about the dangers of vaccines give one whit about the welfare of anyone, children or adult.”

MJD says,

Liar, liar, pants on fire. Both of my children were fully vaccinated and I recently insisted that an adult get the tetanus shot, and she did.

@ dawn

“Bullshit. There is no evidence at all that milcarek, mjd, or the other ass-clowns lying about the dangers of vaccines give one whit about the welfare of anyone, children or adult.”

Oh yes there is!

They keep talking about kids and the dangers of vaccines!

That’s called delusion. Purely and simply. No doubt about it.

Claiming the contrary is precisely what is called “conspiracy theory”.

Whether you like it or not, it doesn’t matter.

@ dean

Why can’t you accept that MJD is telling things as he sees them? That’s not “lying”, which involves the intent to deceive, in the common acceptation of the term.

OK, he has or had this latex fetish and a conflict of interest in the latex business. But that’s not enough to caracterise the intent to deceive…

“Why can’t you accept that MJD is telling things as he sees them?”

When he continues to make comments that contradict the science, after it’s been explained? No, that’s lying.

Your “argument” could be applied to people who deny racism is still a factor in this country, or who deny climate change, or aspects of the Holocaust.

Side note: I realize your comment was aimed at me, buy you entered “dawn” rather than “dean”. Simple mistake.

@ dean

“Your “argument” could be applied to people who deny racism is still a factor in this country, or who deny climate change, or aspects of the Holocaust.”

To some extent, yes, it does. Unfortunately…

And it also applies to “some” Munchausen by proxy mothers. I have to accept that kind of fact, even if I do not like it at all.

I spend a great deal of time worrying about semi-mythical vaccination fence-sitters, You know, the ones who ignore a cascade of calmly-presented evidence about the safety and value of immunization (including references to relevant scientific literature and clinical experience), but instead zero in on a pro-vaccination poster’s snarky remarks and clutch their pearls in horror at the incivility of it all.

Someone whose feelings are that tender and sensitive (and who manages to overlook far nastier behavior by the great mass of antivaxers) is highly unlikely to be amenable to a fact-based approach. In fact, cynics might question whether such a person is truly a ”fence-sitter” at all.

Dangerous Bacon- It can hardly be said that the fence -sitters are ‘semi-mythical’. There appear to be many parents not vaccinating their kids and many of these could be undecided worried parents; not rabid anti-vaxxers. I have read time and again here in this forum that one of the principle aims is to allay their fears with an assembly of crucial scientific evidence and deconstruction of the woo meisters arguments. It seems that if the ‘doubting’ parents can’t withstand a little nastiness, they are too sensitive, then they are not doubters at all! I suspect with all the skilled and imaginative writing that you contribute your main objective resides outside that of which I first commented which is how to persuade parents who don’t vaccinate their kids, to do so.

Dorit-so we are no closer to deciding the best approach.I expect this forum will continue as before and I welcome it, but I don’t think ‘snark’ will help convince those afraid to vaccinate to revert when reading personal mutual insults, no matter what relief it brings those under ‘pressure’.

I don’t think there is one correct approach. I think we need different styles and messages for different audiences.

of course, social scientists might investigate what works better for whomever BUT
we could have it both ways already because
— RI’s kinder, gentler sister site is Science Based Medicine where Orac/ Dr DG and other sceptics deconstruct woo and anti-vax in less snarky ways
— RI itself is comprised of numerous minions who manage wildly different perspectives ranging from the measured, always courteous, Prof Dorit to the sarcastic Dangerous Bacon, has, Reality, TBruce, Smut Clyde and Narad- who is in a class by himself ( and aren’t we glad to have him!) Others mix their styles- Chris, Panacea, Science Mom, Julian, yours truly.( Sorry if I left anyone out, I’m in a bit of a rush).
So readers can pick and choose their faves.

@ Leonard Sugarman

I do not exactly know about the US. But here in France, aside some rather irrational comments I read on blogs, the main feeling from the average antivaxxer I meet on the street is the following:

“Yeah, well I’m fed up with this talk about vaccination. I do not believe they don’t work, but I feel I’m being pushed around. Anyhow, my kids, they grow up, they catch diseases, they get over it. Or they don’t. That’s nature and I don’t see why I should fool around with vaccines for the pleasure of it.”

Then you have legal action by antivaxxers that gets thwarted by judges. The argumentation is a rationalisation of all that could be instrumentalised against vaccination. Mostly talk about adjuvants. But it’s a rationalisation that revolves around the type of argumentation I exposed above. Not really around the “official” antivaxxer arguments.

So, in France, the real argument we need to have is a discussion about the role of science in society. Discussing calcium adjuvants against aluminum adjuvants is a fool’s errand, as it does not address the real cognitive issue at stake.

So yes, Orac hunting woo, nonsense and vaccine misinformation is a fun show to watch. And a necessary one. But the real battle seems to me to be elsewhere: mainly the fact that some people feel that they are being bullshitted by people invoking “science” to further their own political agenda. Which is a claim that goes well beyond vaccination…

So all in all, the collective effort that should really be undertaken is not one that will happen on this blog. At least from what I see in France.

F68.10- do you think that the wider issue of the role of science in society will enable people in France to develop something better than being proud of a callous indifference to the suffering and dying of children not availed of the appropriate vaccination, as is your professed attitude?

@ Leonard Sugarman

My attitude is a very personal one and I believe it in no way reflects on the wider french society.

But yes, I believe there is a trust issue in science generally and expertise specifically. And it’s a far reaching phenomenon with rather deep cultural roots.

Trust of french people in their doctors and medical system is high, and somewhat irrational. Trust in their medical authorities is low, and even more irrational.

I believe the antivaxxers in France are more subject to an excess of skepticism than they are subject to crank magnetism, to put it simply.

Antivax arguments are almost unheard of from patients themselves. Vocal antivaxxers tend mostly to be medical doctors themselves or belong to a specific patient subculture with little influence. That’s why it’s hard to grapple with french antivaxxers in the lay public: you do not know what their arguments are.

In the US, you have this vocal bunch claiming vaccines cause autism. Just show me who the french antivaxxers are: I simply do not know. And I believe most of them would tell you that what they are concerned with is the strike in ERs, or the mediator sanitation scandal, or they’d be grumpy about whatever the Health Minister did last week. Talk about vaccines with an average Frenchman, and he’d rage on and on about the H1N1 vaccination flop by Roselyne Bachelot years ago. You’d have a hard time engaging them on scientific issues. Most wouldn’t care: they wouldn’t see the problem there compared to other issues they’d consider more pressing.

“Just show me who the french antivaxxers are: I simply do not know.”

I am sure there are some out there, or just regular folks who were swayed by Wakefield. Unfortunately there is a proximity to the UK:

There seems to be an opinion piece, but it is behind a paywall and there is no abstract (hint that it is an editorial):
Nat Immunol. 2019 Oct;20(10):1257-1259. doi: 10.1038/s41590-019-0488-9.
Vaccine hesitancy and coercion: all eyes on France.

Several years ago there was a very anti-vaccine resident of France, John Fryer. I think he was an expat from the UK, this is an example of his thinking:

I have not seen him in comments for years, so I have no idea what he has been up to. Perhaps still tilting at windmills trying to get every country on this planet to bend to his will.

Like you, I will not apologize for being prickly. Though I have reserved the title of “sadistic child hater” for the most stubborn anti-vaxers who think insults are a valid form of evidence, and refuse to provide verifiable scientific citations that show any vaccine causes more harm than the diseases, with reminders of what kind of harms from the diseases. Also, I actively ignore Greg, he is not worth the bother.

@ Chris

Oh! I know France has very high rates of vaccine “hesitancy”! I simply never hear about antivaxxers in France. That’s the whole point of my argument!

The weird thing in France is that the general discourse doesn’t seem to compute the fact that vaccines are a scientific issue. It doesn’t compute… At all… And as long as this is not understood, it’s impossible to even start the discussion… If you start mentioning “science” in a public discussion about X or Y, a typical reaction you might get is:

“Hmmhh, OK. You mention science… but what is your personal opinion? Are you capable of an original and personal thought? Not interested in what you read from books!”

People are more interested in whether your personal thought process matches their own moral values or not than anything else such as… facts. They are interested in judging your personality and psychology, which in the end becomes the criterion of whether you speak truth or not.

So much for “science”…

“Also, I actively ignore Greg, he is not worth the bother.”

Oh! I love that chew toy! Is he back?

Though France does have this guy:

Personally, I don’t think it takes one specific anti-vax person French, Spanish, Ukrainian or otherwise. Many just gather together on random online forums to support their version of anti-science, often creating echo-chambers like Age of Autism. Kind of like these folk:

It all looks eerily familiar to what we have seen on this side of the pond, including this closing paragraph:

“When we get pro-vaccine trolls, and we do occasionally, I kick them out of the group,” Schmitt said.

By the way, I just find Greg/Gerg very boring.

@ Chris

Yes. Gherardi is one of them. But he is a medical professional. What I do not see in France are groups of non medical professionals creating their own echo chambers and disseminating their ideas at large as in the US. You also have the AIMSIB, but again, it is a group of medical professionals, and by any standards compared to the US, they are a group who disagree, provide criticism point by point, and whose crankiness doesn’t blow all things completely out of proportions. Michel De Lorgeril also seems to be half (utter) crank and half serious. The profile of antivaxxers seems to be different to me.

I still don’t see groups of raving moms and shitholes like AoA…

Moreover, medical professionals are almost uncriticizable by lay people in France. So the circus of Gherardi can go on relatively unchallenged for quite a long time…

Here is a group of antivax patients:

35000 members of this association (allegedly…). Never heard of them before… Tone of the website is mostly polite, etc… Their page states:

“Who aren’t we allowed to discuss the benefits of vaccines? Why can’t we know the composition of vaccines? (…) Why are people who refuse vaccines publicly castigated and branded as a cult?”

Given the medical climate in France, these questions are not agressive in tone and are NOT entirely rhetorical… we are very very very far from an organisation able to produce something like Vaxxed.

And being branded as a cult is something rather serious in France. We don’t tolerate jokes like the church of scientology around here; and (unlicensed) alt-med practitioners are targeted by police and psychiatry-friendly/led Miviludes governmental working group on cults. (Licenced professionals can spout almost any shit they like, however…)

Such antivax associations are therefore completely neutralised by authorities.

Whatever the weight of this association may be, and given the mediatic absence of antivaxxers, there is no way the astronomical figures of french antivax sentiment can be explained by their action. Something else is going on than crazy vaccine theories circulating: These theories are NOT circulating.

This is a diffuse antivax sentiment, and it doesn’t need any argumentative backbone to thrive. It is merely a feeling, not something you can argue with… as there is no one to argue with in the first place…

There are two issues, from my POV.

Resisting vaccination because of stubbornness or political ideology.
Resisting vaccination because of autism and an entire spectrum of other made up sequelae (is that the word?).

I care a lot less about number 1. I don’t think it’s logical or socially responsible but it is, at least, understandable. These people metaphorically believe seatbelts work but don’t want to be told to wear one. Number 2 is infuriating. I hear at least one incorrect statement a week from people who just assume that they can apply what they know to something they have no knowledge of. That’s just at work. About machinery. Nothing as intricately interlinked as the human body. No 2 type anti-vaxxers metaphorically refuse to believe seatbelts work or they point out the rare occasions where seat belts fail or cause serious bruising and use this as an excuse. Where does this internal arrogance come from? How is it possible for, say, an economist, to listen to an expert in the field, deny that expertise, essentially accuse the entire immunology profession of crimes against humanity with a straight face. Who is teaching them this inflated opinion of self?

I don’t believe doctors always get it right. I don’t believe pharmaceutical companies are entirely ethical. I do believe that a bunch of people, who are experts in a field, are going to be right orders of magnitude more often than a random layperson. No matter how intelligent.


“I care a lot less about number 1. I don’t think it’s logical or socially responsible but it is, at least, understandable. These people metaphorically believe seatbelts work but don’t want to be told to wear one. Number 2 is infuriating.”


Leonard is missing something, possibly from lack of familiarity with online discussions about vaccination.

There is a species of commenter who seizes on examples of snark/insult, professing shock that pro-vaccine advocates are such a bunch of mean ol’ Meanies. They insist that they and other “fence-sitters” are completely turned off by this Dreadful Lack of Civility. Such commenters don’t bother to engage in discussion of the great majority of pro-vaccine postings which deal factually and calmly with the subject. They are basically tone trolls who ignore far more blatant and excessive name-calling on the part of antivaxers.

There’s a ton of good information out there from websites like, the vaccine information center of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the CDC, WHO etc. which don’t ever raise their editorial voices (so to speak). Slightly more pungent analyses (but equally evidence-based) come from sources like Vaxopedia and Science-Based Medicine. Then there are sites like Respectful Insolence and DocBastard* where facts are accompanied by occasionally more spicy discussion and even (gasp) ridicule of antivax foolishness. Sometimes you just need to have fun with the more extreme nuttiness.

I highly doubt that R.I. is the first and last stop for “fence-sitters” looking for information on vaccination, or that they would be so shocked by examples of incivility by pro-vaccine advocates that they’d plunge into the antivax camp. People occasionally make such claims online, but their honesty is open to question.

*I mention the good Doctor in order to link to his fine collection of antivax myths (snark warning Leonard, be very very careful before clicking on the link).

DB-Leonard can’t read everything but he has read a great deal during the last two years of Orac and his contributors and much of his previous material going back a few years.I think I recognize your emphasis and if you think you are successful with your clever dialogue in persuading those mythical fence-sitters of the benefits of vaccination then good luck with that. I think you are a commentor who doesn’t have that agenda at all but is having fun lampooning whoever you think deserves it. Well that’s OK because whoever doesn’t like it doesn’t have to read or engage. Me, I think you are very witty and creative.

I hear that if one is diligent and persistent, it is possible to attain the rank of Master Scold in the Tone Police, earning the right to have gold braid on one’s epaulets.

Leonard has a ways to go. 🙂

DB- I’ll keep trying for those gold braid epaulets and with your instruction I am sure to get closer to what you perceive is my aspiration. Since I know of no research to enlighten, for or against, my weekly proposed hypothesis I think we can agree to differ.
The only scolding related to the police that I have experience of was back in 1957 when our table tennis team ( four of us)of the Warm Lane Jewish Youth Club, Willesden, London, UK, won the Willesden and District League. We had to play several local police teams , home and away, and we beat them. They were chastised because we were just upstart teenagers playing more experienced opponents. They did provide tea after the matches.
None of my great sporting achievements resulted in gold braid awards and it appears will now never happen, by whatever route I take, since I would have a ways to go achieving them and my age is a negative limiting factor.
But I will keep ‘listening’ to your advice and pearls of wisdom DB as they are always so apt for the occasion.

John-correct, Walm not Warm. And another faut pas earlier-weekly instead of weakly. Thank you for that.

Since it’s nearly the end of the year, I thought that we might share our thoughts on recent developments that affect sceptics . Without much cogitation, I immediately can list a few that stand out:

— increased anti-vax protests in response to tightening of vaccine exemptions in various locales including California, New York and New Jersey. Cosplay is another dimension as we’ve seen with the V movement. The Rise of Del.
— actions by facebook, twitter, Wikipedia and other on-line outlets in reaction to anti-vax/ alt med dis-information that attempt to rein in this activity.
— pushback by alties in response to the above: especially Null with Wikipedia and Mercola to WaPo, anti-vaxxers to facebook.

I’m a little late to the game, but I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season, even the ones who have made it their life goal to get up in the morning, go to the bathroom, maybe bathe, maybe brush their teeth, grab some breakfast, maybe take the kids to school or to the bus stop, turn on their computers or grab their phones, log in, come to this site, and leave the most heinous and vicious comments about people they don’t know in real life. You’re all special. You all give life a certain “no sé que” that helps me laugh on most days, even if I do — from time to time — wish you would go say hello to Art Briles. (Inside joke.)

Panacea- I am in total agreement with everything you just wrote including the dislike of 68.10 being proud of his callousness. I have made no case and will not for lampooning ( and worse ) the ‘nutters’. They deserve what you give them. Do I have to repeat my original doubts? If I do the chains will rattle again with those here who feel ‘offended’.Keep up the good work.

@ Leonard Sugarman

“If I do the chains will rattle again with those here who feel ‘offended’.”

I am personally not that easily offended.

Feel free to rattle the chains.

Does anybody want to hang out? I could start a Mystic BBS and/or a Discord server or a few, could be fun.


I will just mention that Criterion continues to offer up obscure items that I’ve been hipped to in the past. I just found that they’ve done Repo Man.

The leaders of the anti-vaccine death cult are starting 2020 with a disinfo presentation at UCLA next Sunday:
RFK Jr. and James Lyons-Weiler in Los Angeles Jan 5, 2020

$40 – $55

Date and Time
Sun, January 5, 2020
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM PST

UCLA Los Angeles Campus Ackerman Union, Bruin Viewpoint Room, 2nd Floor (floor A)
308 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90024

“Dr James Lyons-Weiler of IPAK, Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge will present the findings of his recently published aluminum study and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chairman of Children’s Health Defense, will be presenting important information about the CDC’s own v a c c i n a t e d vs. un v a c c i n a t e d data. The results may be shocking!”
This, of course, refers to Lying-Wailer’s sophomoric anti-vaccine screed as dismantled by Orac here:
James Lyons-Weiler and Paul: Incompetently demonizing aluminum vaccine adjuvants
and by Skeptical Raptor and Associate here:
It is quite astonishing that a supposed PhD scientist can make such a basic fundamental mistake as to present a subcutaneous dose as equivalent to an IV bolus and to then base his entire laughable “paper” on this freshman level error.
It is also quite astonishing that any journal would publish this idiotic tripe and calls into question the integrity and peer review process of that journal.
What Lying-Wailer has done is incompetently try to assess pharmacokinetics, etc. without considering bioavailability as shown in both deconstructions above.
It is idiotic and would garner an F in freshman Biology.
RFK, Jr.’s ignorant, dishonest, and uninformed talk will be about some uncited “CDC vaccinated vs. unvaccinated data”.
I believe this may be a Gish-Gallop of this series of dishonest and idiotic articles by RFK, Jr. at his CHD latrine:

Note this is just the same old lying, dishonest stuff from RFK, Jr. such as:
– The misrepresentation of the Verstraeten prelim study
– Mawson’s retracted “study” survey of home schooling parents (akin to surveying NRA members about the benefits of gun ownership… no chance of bias there)
– A number of P. Aaby’s weak studies of 1980s data from Guinea-Bissau that produce incomprehensible results (i.e. – looks like random noise)
– The laughable Bart Classen’s individual anti-vaccine babbling
– The debunked Wakefraud induced “CDC Whistleblower” konspiracee idiocy meant for promotion of Wakefraud’s video – Quaxxed
– Stripped of his medical license due to quackery Geier (pere et fils) and Hooker Thimerosal quackery
– A lot more Geier & Geier quackery
– Stripped of his medical license for “callous disregard” for patients and facts – Wakefield “studies” frauds
– Phony diploma-mill PhD fraud Gary Goldman drooling
– etc, etc, etc.
Lots of room for RFK, Jr. to run wild in the disinformation streets with his hand picked fraudulent and laughable “research” papers.
RFK, Jr. is also repeatedly making the bare conspiratorial statement that
“FDA receives 50% of its budget from Pharma…”
implying that Pharma is buying influence when the truth is that 50% is from taxes on the food and drug industry in the form of user fees and is not voluntary any more than your income taxes are voluntary. They cannot be used to buy influence as if they are withheld the FDA will lock the company’s doors.

Someone needs to corner this liar and ask him if he means those monies are being used to buy influence and watch him spin, spin, spin and run in circles to not give a straight answer.
Then they need to ask if he thinks those monies are voluntary.
Then they need to explain to the audience that they are taxes and RFK, Jr. is demonstrably spinning a dishonest conspiracy about FDA funding.
I hope some students will show up and protest and chant:
“Hey! Het!
How many kids
Did you kill today?”
In honor of his anti-vaccine conspiracy letter to the PM of Samoa implying that the vaccine is the cause for the outbreak and deaths and not his and the other anti-vaccine death cult leader’s recommendation that parents do not vaccinate their children.
Followed by:
“Hey! Hey!
Ho! Ho!
Got to go!”
In honor of his contribution to the deaths of children due to vaccine preventable diseases.
What are the actual scientists at UCLA doing about this dangerous idiocy – and I don’t mean debate these rapid fire liars as they have no moral compunction against lying?

Just a reminder that you should purchase chrome plated dishes for your New Year’s eggs Benedict. There’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise.

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