Antivaccine nonsense Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

If this keeps up, it all might go to my head, such as it is

Even after over three years at this, I still find it amazing that as many people read my verbal meanderings as in fact do. In fact, I still can’t believe that I’m one of the more popular medical bloggers out there. True, I’ll probably never approach the traffic and readership of the huge political blogs or of our very own P.Z. Myers (who has at least ten times my traffic), but I appear to have become a fixture in the medical and scientific blogosphere.

Even more amazingly (to me, at least), I appear to have developed a bit of influence. I know it’s hard to believe, but I was forced to accept it recently. For example, first I did a post criticizing Medscape for publishing a post about Gardasil that credulously quoted a germ theory denialist and spread antivaccination myths. Not long after, Medscape eliminated the article. True, Medscape replaced it with an article that was arguably as bad in some ways, but apparently a remonstration from li’l ol’ me embarrassed Medscape sufficiently to react. Then later, after I criticized the antivaccine clowns at Age of Autism for “outing” one of my readers who comments under a pseudonym (an “outing” that wasn’t a simple matter to accomplish), AoA actually wrote not one but two posts, one with the lamest justification for a vindictive “outing” of a pseudonymous blogger I’ve ever seen plus the usual predictable reposting of a rant “outing” me yet again. (AoA almost never reacts to criticism; to rate two responses, one a direct attack, tells me I hit a major nerve. Good.) Finally, earlier this week, I wrote a post blasting ABC News for giving voice to a woman who chose quackery over scientific medicine by giving her a blog on its news site. I considered such a move to be extremely irresponsible in that it could influence cancer patients to think that her quackery was working.

I was informed recently that the blog is no longer there.

Now, I don’t know if it was me primarily responsible for this (several commenters were highly critical, although most were totally supportive) or whether readers wrote to ABC News to complain, but what I do know is that the blog appeared one week ago; I wrote about it four days later, and less than two days after that the blog was gone. Coincidence? Possibly. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation. But I like to think I had something to do with it.

If that’s the case, between ABC News and Medscape, I’d better be careful. All that influence might go to my head, and it’s obvious that my ego wasn’t exactly undernourished to begin with. I might even start to think I’m PZ or something. Don’t worry, though. You’re unlikely ever to seem me sending my ravening mini-horde off to crash, pillage, and plunder Internet polls. (I’d definitely have to concentrate on smaller polls; if there’s one thing that would be really embarrassing it would be to send off a mini-horde and fail to affect the poll.) I also promise you’ll never, ever see me desecrating a consecrated Catholic host just to make a point about…well, I’m still not sure exactly what he was trying to accomplish; I just know it struck me as pointless and that it made a whole lot of people mad for no real gain that I could detect. Most importantly, I promise never to grow a beard. (I risk divorce if I ever do that.) I will, however, continue to spread the message of scientific medicine, skepticism, and critical thinking for the foreseeable future.

And if it has an effect where an effect is required, so much the better.

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]

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