Experts Agree: Your Experts Are Morons

Using the power of chemistry, my experts have determined that chemistry is wrong.

Using the power of chemistry, my experts have determined that chemistry is wrong.

I was taking a look at an Orac post about raw milk enthusiast Joe Mercola and his new home at the Huffington Post when something struck me as incredibly odd.  Why is Mercola trying so hard to show his scientific sources?

Let’s take a second to define our terms here.  Mercola’s post is all about how people shouldn’t drink pasteurized milk, and instead should drink raw milk.  Why?  Because milk that is pasteurized is “dead” while milk that is raw is “alive.”  Why you want your milk to be living in the first place is a little beyond me.  I prefer the food I eat be dead, that way I know it won’t try to eat me back.

Throughout his article, Joe mentions various publications that have published books and articles that vaguely agree with what he’s saying.  The New York Times, “Medical Hypothesis,” and a man named Keith Woodford who knew that going that nasty route of “peer review” would just lead to biased scientists, so he wrote a book about it instead.  It may be that he simply wants to credit those who have done research before him.  This is a good instinct, it’s what separates us from the plagiarists, but I think what we’re also seeing here is a need to show scientific legitimacy for what Joe is saying – which is odd when you consider that he’s going against one of the great health technologies of the modern world … continue reading this entry.

Why David Kirby? A treatise on the Huffington Post

David Kirby: Evidence of Douchbaggery

David Kirby: Evidence of Lazy Editors

There are two reasons why I write for this blog.  The first is from that part of me that’s altruistic.  From the minute I knew the New York City Skeptics existed, I wanted to do what I could to help the organization out, and when all is said and done, writing is sort of my most marketable skill.  I went to a drinking skeptically, barged into a conversation between Michael Feldman and Matt Sekedat and forced them to agree to let me write for them.  I wrote for this blog before this blog existed because in the end, I figured this was what I could do best to help the organization.  The second reason is… not quite so altruistic.  Though I have other jobs as well, at my core, I’m a writer.  It’s what I want to do with my life, it’s the only thing I’ve ever really been able to imagine doing forever.  I write for pretty much anyone who will have me as their writer.  I rarely do it for money, I do it because I hope it’ll give me a resume I can eventually turn into a real job, for the experience of doing it, and because if I don’t write regularly, my head gets full of clutter and eventually explodes.  It was for a few of these reasons that I started writing for the Huffington Post. … continue reading this entry.

Vaccines, Circumcision, and The HuffPo

Presentation1

(For further discussion please read the continuation here.)

No this is not a new game akin to 6-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon.

Unlike Sarah Palin, I don’t read “all” periodicals, but I have a few favorites… the HuffPo is not one of them. Their editorials tend to come off as tirades by individuals who like to hear themselves talk… type… whatever. But the reviews of the site from friends and colleagues is always mixed enough that I do check in from time to time, an action I usually regret but pursued this evening.

I first stopped off at an article called, “The Lancet Retraction Changes Nothing.” Naïve fool that I am, I expected an article exploring the continued and irrational devotion of anti-vaxers to their cause despite the public declaration of the invalidity of Wakefield’s research that first suggested a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. I’m such a Pollyanna. To illuminate the opinion of David Kirby, the author, I refer you to his own words: … continue reading this entry.

Is this a media tipping point?

The_associated_press_building_in_new_york_city_SMI’m not sure I should be even writing this article.  I’m worried I’m going to encounter some kind of quantum news effects, where if I somehow manage to probe into the inner workings of American Media, maybe I’ll accidentally send one electron flying off in the wrong direction, letting off some cascade that erases exactly what I want to talk to you about.  So it is with great trepidation that I tell you this.  In the words of Buffalo Springfield, “There’s something happening here.  What it is ain’t exactly clear.”  In the past week, I’ve seen two stories in relatively mainstream news outlets that actually take the scientific perspective on vaccines and alternative medicine.

Please tell me the waveform didn’t just collapse. … continue reading this entry.

In this cat’s opinion

NECSS, The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism, was my first skeptical meeting. And since I was helping out behind the scenes, I may have a slightly biased view of the event. But I actually came away with a very different impression than that of my fellow blogger, The Quixotic Man (TQM). And since I have the floor today, I figured I would talk about it here instead of adding a comment on his post from yesterday.

Rachael Dunlop and John Snyder as part of the Skepticism & Media Panel at NECSS 2009 (photo by Mark Bellncula)

Rachael Dunlop and John Snyder as part of the Skepticism & Media Panel at NECSS 2009 (photo by Mark Bellncula)

NB: This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last time, that TQM and I do not see eye to eye, and that is why it is so much fun to work with him!

I agree with TQM that Paul Offit gave a terrific, informational, and thorough talk on the status of the anti-vaccination movement, which is a very dangerous public health concern. It is true that the bogus claims of the anti-vaxers have been criticized, debunked, chewed up and spit back out by scientific research, medical professionals, and the skeptical community. However, I do not think it is necessarily true that everyone in the audience on Saturday were as well informed on the topic as TQM. The very reason I became interested in skeptical blogging is because I knew it would force me to look deeper into issues that I knew only a little bit about, which is time consuming to say the least.  As he said, TQM only became familiar with the topic of the anti-vax claims because he needed to research the issue for his posts at the HuffPo. … continue reading this entry.

On Skeptical Blogging

I’ve been writing for various internet publications now for going on two years. It’s not a long time to a lot of people, but for me, it feels like a while.  It started out easy. Like with all writing. There’s that early work you do where you had like five or six things to say but then, all of a sudden, that’s it, no more ideas in your head. It started out for me being about Bush. I tried to keep up with his weekly radio addresses, writing parodies of each one point by point. That was fun for about a month. But after you listened to Bush complain about how Congress wouldn’t do exactly what he wanted week in and week out, well… you get sick of it. The election was big.  I was, at my peak, writing five blogs a week on the Huffington Post’s comedy site, 236 (now defunct). Not all of them were good, but they all went out there. … continue reading this entry.

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