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Orac gets comments: Dr. Jay tries the “pharma shill” gambit on him yet again

Dr. Jay is back.

You remember Dr. Jay (namely Dr. Jay “I’m not anti-vaccine but I give vaccines only ‘reluctantly‘ and am convinced that they cause autism” Gordon), pediatrician to Evan, Jenny McCarthy’s son and frequent apologist for the antivaccine movement in the media. Specifically, he was most unhappy over my posts about Dr. Bob “too many too soon” Sears and about a child who died of Hib. If you peruse the comments in those two posts, you will see him once again disparaging science, touting his own personal clinical experience over the science failing to find a link between vaccines and autism. You will see him once again incapable of acknowledging that personal clinical experience and anecdotes are exactly what all too often led physicians astray for hundreds of years regarding bloodletting and purging with toxic metals and citing a fallacious “science was wrong before” justification for accepting his views as correct.

As usual, the banter went back and forth without Dr. Jay’s being able to produce any scientific evidence to support his (and, apparently, Dr. Sears’) belief that vaccines cause autism and that autistic children shouldn’t be vaccinated. Alas, my and my commenters’ failed to manage to get Dr. Gordon to see why anecdotal evidence can mislead, leading to Dr. Gordon’s contemptuously dismissing these commenters as being people “who’ve never taken care of a patient” and don’t have his years of experience practicing pediatrics as having no standing to criticize him. (Quite frankly, the “How dare you? I’m a doctor” defense doesn’t wash around here. I try very hard never to use it–although in the course of four years it’s possible I may have slipped up once or twice–and I don’t hesitate to call out commenters who use it.) Then Dr. Gordon did something that really annoyed me.

He pulled the “pharma shill” gambit out and used it again:

Pharmaceutical companies either directly or indirectly pay people to post on blogs like this. It’s illegal not to disclose if you are doing this.

(Orac: “Aah, the Pharmashill gambit.” Baloney, Orac. It’s real and you know it!)



I was a little irked; so I felt that his invocation of the “pharma shill” gambit merited a response:

Dr. Jay, you’ve pulled this crap time and time again with me, and I’ve told you time and time again, both publicly in the comments of this blog and privately in response to e-mails, that I do not receive pharmaceutical company funding of any kind, either for my research, this blog, or anything else, for that matter. I also often facetiously ask things like, “Where do I get me some of this filthy big pharma lucre? I want in! Imagine how cool it would be to spend my days in sweats and a T-shirt blogging, instead of spending all that time seeing patients, doing research, and struggling to keep my lab funded!” In any case, Dr. Jay, you’ve responded on at least two occasions that I can remember that you believe me when I tell you this.

Then, any time I happen to annoy you with a post on this blog that you really disagree with to the point where you start diving into the comments to take me to task, almost inevitably you eventually start insinuating yet again that I’m somehow a pharma shill. I’m calling you out on it this time, because, quite frankly, it’s intellectually dishonest of you to keep doing this after you’ve said you believe my assurances to you that I don’t receive pharmaceutical company funding.

As for your links, I note that only one of them has anything to do with pharmaceutical companies paying for blog coverage. One of them had to do with accepting pay to give talks and serve on advisory boards and how more physicians are saying no to big pharma money for such services. The rest have to do with pharmaceutical companies and CME, whether it is ethically acceptable, and whether CME will become much more expensive as pharma underwriting of CME activities is increasingly scaled back as being a conflict of interest. In any case, perhaps you think pharma paid me to write posts like this:

Yes. I’m guessing pharma would pay me well for more articles like this. Don’t you think so, Dr. Jay?

So, Dr. Jay, I’m going to make a request of you: Put up or shut up. You think I’m a pharma shill? Prove it. Otherwise, stop pulling the “pharma shill” gambit on my blog and insinuating that I must somehow be in the pay of vaccine manufacturers. My assumption about you is that you are sincere and honest, but simply wrong about the science when it comes to vaccines. If you don’t think I deserve the same assumption from you, that says far more about you than it does about me.

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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