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Quack, Snort, Attack, Delete: SUE-DO-NIMMIN!

January 5, 2011

“My personal journey through the looking glass has ended. I stepped into “alternative” medicine up to my neck and waded out again, poorer but wiser. I now realize that the thing the “alternative” practitioners are really selling is hope—usually false hope—and hope is a very seductive thing to those who have lost it. It is really not surprising that people will buy it even when their better judgment tells them not to do so.”  –James R. Laidler, MD

Thelma here, by God, woke up from a deep and Wild-Turkey inspired sleep by a phone call from Kim herself, bound and determined we needed to do us a write-up here on something she and I can well speak to: pseudonyms on the interwebz and the outin of alter-identities. Now, hellfire and brimstone, is there anything more fine than a nice pseudonym ? Let’s ya express yourself, right, on controversial topics without worrying for your family’s sake about them damn crazy-assed people that see the need to call your employers to get you fired for writing something they didn’t like, avoids having to worry about the occasional death threat, too, since ifn they don’t know who you are, they can’t come like a pack of wolves around your door. 

Plenty of reasons, then, especially in the autism community to have an alter identity besides the fun in putting on your cape and thigh high boots while writing your pieces, is what I’m saying. 

All this leaves you wondering then, what’s with the quote up there at the beginning? What’s Jim Laidler got to do with this here post? Well, thankya kindly for asking. Let me sauce my coffee with some of the hair of the dog that bit me and I’ll fill you in. Seems that yesterday for a hop, skip and a jump, that AoA had a piece up by Jake Crosby about Autism Blogger Jim Laidler MD: Two Faces and an Undisclosed Conflict of Interest” that argues Dr. Laidler is none other than “a two-faced, conflicted, abusive, and bigoted opportunist who has betrayed the autism community in the name of big industry” blogger by the handle of Prometheus who blogs at  A Photon in the Darkness. Now them ain’t nice words at all to be speaking about another blogger and betray the whole reason for the hit piece, I reckon, as well as the reason the piece has done been pulled off the page. Might have been a bit intemperate is what I’m saying. Now, mind you, I’d have no problems at all with a bit of name-calling, you know like dumbass or asshat, as them is purely descriptive terms. You ain’t accusing someone; you’re just describing his general demeanor.

But nope, that ain’t what happened here. This was a long screed tying stuff Jim Laidler has said to stuff Prometheus has said and how they match up. Now I ain’t got the foggiest as to whether Laidler and Prometheus be one and the same and I don’t care. It’s a heap more believable at least than Handley’s tortured idea that Sullivan was none other than Bonnie Offit, but it still ain’t relevant. Who really cares other than young Crosby who gets taken to task by everyone he hollers at? I suspect AoA’s editors don’t since they pulled the piece. Of course, don’t it look like they’ve got a serious crush on Offit with Blaxill’s post today? I tell you what, reminds me of my way of getting a guy I fancy: slug him to let him know you is interested!

Still, and all, should we worry about this or should we applaud the AoA editors for having the good sense to take that piece down so quick? Well now, I mighta applauded their good sense if they hadn’t immediately proven they ain’t got none. 

Kim here, having wrested the keyboard back from Thelma, to get my say in, although, interestingly enough, Thelma managed to say much of what I was going to. It’s amazing how alike we are in thought, how often we are in accord, isn’t it? (Thelma intruding here to amen and that’s for damn true; it’s like we’re two halves of the same damned coin, ain’t it?) 

Crosby’s beef seems to be that Prometheus has been mean to him. And so he launches himself into a long post in which he argues that Prometheus and Laidler are one because when Prometheus stops blogging, Laidler is writing elsewhere. You know, like how whenever Superman is around Clark Kent is nowhere to be found? That’s Crosby’s weakest evidence; similarities in style and topics are perhaps better indicators, as are the similar biographies. But so what if Laidler is Prometheus, or if I were Thelma, for example? Not that Thelma and I have biographies anything alike. After all, I am not a 6 foot tall 300 pound army-boot wearing, Wild Turkey drinking woman in my 60s from Stink Creek, Kentucky. Nope, I bear no resemblance, so thankfully no one will think we’re the same person. Shew and shewey.

Because Crosby believes that gfcf works (see comments for an explanation), because Crosby believes that the HepB vaccine causes autism, Laidler whenever he writes must disclose all sorts of things, like “ working in the lab of Dr. Ken Stedman – a co-chair of the NASA-Astrobiology Institute Virus Focus Group with Dr. Baruch Blumberg – who won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the Hepatitis B vaccine” : “Shouldn’t this be something Laidler ought to at least let his readers know about when interviewed for major publications such as the Scientific American, given the Hep B vaccine’s epidemiologic implication in autism spectrum disorders and other neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis?”  So, Laidler works with a guy who works with the guy who discovered the Hep B vaccine? Except it appears that Crosby didn’t get the entire quote right (which he didn’t quote, by the way): 

In 1976, Dr. Blumberg won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus. He and his colleagues discovered the virus in 1967, developed the blood test that is used to detect the virus, and invented the first hepatitis B vaccine in 1969″ (my bolding). 

Blumberg discovered the virus and invented the vaccine. And so what? The only one implicating HepB is Wakefield’s discredited and pulled monkey study (and reworked and rehashed into other “studies”). What does that have to do with Laidler’s ability to speak out as a parent to children on the spectrum? Nothing at all.

If Prometheus engages in heated rhetoric in responding to Crosby that still doesn’t lessen his ability to speak as a parent of kids on the spectrum. It’s irrelevant. We’re all guilty of heated rhetoric; some of us more than others. If name-calling disqualifies someone from speaking, then Stagliano is the first to go. And I’m right behind her. 

Crosby, regardless of whether or not he’s right about Laidler and Prometheus being the same person, ultimately fails at being convincing that Laidler  “can no longer be cited as an independent medical expert and parent who claimed to not have success with therapies he wrongfully claims are unproven to work for children with autism as he clearly has an undisclosed conflict of interest” as the supposed “undisclosed conflict of interest” exists only in Crosby’s mind, as the “works with a guy who works with a guy” gambit doesn’t pass anyone’s sniff test, nor is there any relevance to a screen name for blogging and commenting purposes.

I also fail to see how Crosby has proven that Laidler is an opportunist: “Not only does Laidler’s conflict of interest suggest that his true motive is opportunism, but the specific nature of his interest is yet another commonality he shares with his apparent alter-ego – the nasty, bigoted blogger who goes by “Prometheus” – whose blog states that he is also ‘a researcher in molecular biology and microbial ecology at a university somewhere in the United States.'” And if nastiness is a no-no, perhaps AoA would like to clean up its own house first.

I didn’t see the post while it was up, so I don’t know how long it was up. I don’t know if anyone commented. I do know from google searching the title of the piece that it was up long enough for the feed to pick it up and it be linked to three pages worth of sites. Since AoA only has a partial feed, the piece does not appear to be up in full anywhere else. I think we have to acknowledge that someone at AoA thought better and pulled the piece and that is to their credit.

Considering they never reconsidered the horrendous Bonnie Offit/Sullivan piece, I’m frankly surprised that someone decided it shouldn’t be up, especially considering they continue to have no problem putting out frankly inaccurate bullcrap about Offit and his motives, all while never acknowledging that Offit donates all proceeds from his last book to the Autism Science Foundation for research into autism. Oh, and while I’m at it, Blaxill,  rotavirus is a hell of a lot more than “a little baby diarrhea” and the whole Rotateq business is more than a bit misleading, isn’t it? And seriously, how hard is it to get Offit’s books right? Blaxill writes that Offit has written three books prior to the latest one and lays them out, but somehow misses several. I guess those don’t count. 

From Wiki and not including Deadly Choices:

  • Offit, Paul A (2008). Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14636-4.
  • Offit, Paul A (2007). Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases. Smithsonian Books/Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-122795-0.
  • Offit, Paul A (2005). The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10864-4.
  • Offit, Paul A; Louis M. Bell (2003). Vaccines: What You Should Know ((third edition) ed.). Wiley. ISBN 978-0471420040.
  • Marshall, Gary S; Penelope H. Dennehy, David P. Greenberg, Paul A. Offit, and Tina Q. Tan (2003). The Vaccine Handbook: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 978-0781735698.
  • Offit, Paul A. and Louis M. Bell (1999). Vaccines: What Every Parent Should Know. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0028638614.
  • Offit, Paul A; Bonnie Fass-Offit and Louis M. Bell (1999). Breaking the Antibiotic Habit: A Parent’s Guide to Coughs, Colds, Ear Infections, and Sore Throats. John Wiley. ISBN 978-0471319825.

Full Disclosure: I read Prometheus’s blog, have commented on it, and am facebook friends with Prometheus (although he is not particularly active on facebook). I have not directly interacted with Jim Laidler. I do not know if Prometheus is Jim Laidler. I don’t care.


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