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Gary G. Kohls, MD mindlessly regurgitates misinformation about Orac

Gary G. Kohls, MD mindlessly regurgitated an antivaccine lie about Orac. Orac responds. It does not go well for Dr. Kohls. Basically, it’s not wise to tug on Superman’s cape.

One of the hazards of being a blogger, particularly a blogger writing about medical pseudoscience and quackery, is that you will face online attacks from the very quacks whose quackery you deconstruct. The more effective you are, the higher your public profile becomes, the more outrageous the attacks will become. Another thing you will soon realize is that the quacks, cranks, and pseudoscientists who attack you are not particularly concerned with accuracy, science, or reason. At the very least, they are careless and unconcerned with whether their attacks have a basis in reality. At the very worse, they lie shamelessly. This brings us to Gary G. Kohls, MD, a retired quack who decided to attack a hero of mine, Dr. Paul Offit, and me in a lazily written attack piece that relies on an old misattribution. The article appeared in The Duluth Reader entitled Internet Trolls, Disinformation Agents and Big Vaccine. Of course, Dr. Kohls, being the lazy quack that he is, helpfully mentions that “This article contains extensive excerpts from a Duty to Warn column that was published on the Global Research website on May 11, 2016.”

It doesn’t take long to figure out where Dr. Kohls is coming from. In fact, he lays out his intention very early in his article, and that intention is to smear critics of antivaxers as either “pharma shills” or “disinformation agents”:

A disinformation agent publishes or otherwise provides false information that is intended to mislead. Disinformation is called propaganda when issued by government organizations, and it is called advertising when issued by corporations.

Guess whom Dr. Kohls is about to label as a “disinformation agent.” I know; it’s too easy. It’s going to be Dr. Paul Offit and me. But let’s see where our quacky friend Dr. Kohls is going first:

But Big Vaccine companies, in their devious efforts to deter activists whose children have been sickened or killed by vaccines also hire internet trolls that cunningly infiltrate websites and chat rooms to cripple the efforts of the activists to spread “unwelcome truths” about vaccines. Two common tactics are ad hominem attacks. And the derogatory label “anti-vaxxers” when the reality is that vaccine critics are actually “anti-over-vaccination” activists.

I’d be willing to bet that Dr. Kohls can’t define “over-vaccination.” Or, if he can, I bet that his definition will have nothing to do with science, reason, or evidence. My guess is that, basically, to Dr. Kohls “over-vaccination” means more vaccines than he happens to like, whatever that number is. Certainly, Dr. Kohls appears to be quite antivaccine, given that he’s up to part 10 of a series he’s entitled Trying to Refute, with Real Vaccine Science and Documentable Facts, the Big Pharma Propaganda/Lie that all Vaccines are Safe and Effective.

Of course, his “real vaccine science” is anything but. Let’s just put it this way. He actually cites Dr. Suzanne Humphries, an antivaccine quack about whom I’ve written on a number of occasions. Dr. Kohls is even gullible enough to spout the “vaccines didn’t save us” gambit beloved of antivaxers. Basically, this intellectually dishonest—downright deceptive, actually—tactic involves pointing out that mortality was falling from a given infectious disease before a vaccine for it was introduced. In this case, it was measles and a few other diseases. The implication that antivaccinationists want people to draw is that hygiene, sanitation, and the like were the “real” causes of the decrease. The long version of the rebuttal this gambit is here. The short version is that disease incidence does not equal mortality and that measles incidence plummeted after the introduction of the vaccine. The reason mortality was falling before the vaccine was for other reasons. Medical care was getting better, and a smaller percentage of people who got the disease died from it.

If Dr. Kohls thinks that’s a valid argument against vaccines, he’s dumber than he appears. After all, if an antivaxer like J.B. Handley likes this particular gambit, you know it’s intellectually dishonest.

This leads to the classic “pharma shill gambit,” something I’ve been writing about since 2005 and have continued to write about on this blog until five years ago and this very day. Not being concerned with facts, evidence, truth, or accuracy, Dr. Kohls can’t resist going into full slime mode:

Besides naively trusting the CDC, the author of last week’s “Local View” article extensively quoted an infamous and very arrogant internet troll named Robert Gorski, whose reputation and tactics are widely discredited among knowledgeable, unbiased scientists and physicians.

I’m not sure where this idiot—yes, Dr. Kohls, I’m calling you an idiot—got the idea that my name is Robert. Maybe he was just careless. Clearly the Duluth Reader‘s copy checking leaves much to be desired. Be that as it may, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read Dr. Kohls refer to my critics who’ve supposedly “discredited” me as “knowledgeable, unbiased scientists and physicians.” Yes, that was definitely a hoot to read, given that my critics tend to consist primarily of quacks, pseudoscientists, and antivaxers.

In any event, Dr. Kohls’ antivaccine misinformation isn’t really what caught my attention. As antivaxers go, he’s really quite unimaginative and not particularly clever. If you don’t believe me, read his article A Letter to a Young Health Journalist (in Response to her Recent Article about the Possibility of Big Pharma Developing a Universal Influenza Vaccine). Here’s a taste:

The following lists of potentially iatrogenic diseases (which mainly occur in the fully-vaccinated, by the way) include such vaccine-associated or vaccine-induced diseases that includes Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Asthma, Allergies and the fairly new, quite commonly-mis-diagnosed syndrome: ASIA (the “Autoimmune/inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants). The ASIA syndrome includes a large number of iatrogenic diseases that are caused by vaccine adjuvants and therefore commonly mis-diagnosed. One of the most important is the newly-recognized syndrome, the debilitating post-vaccination disorder called macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF).

Yes, he buys Yehuda Shoenfeld’s pseudoscience about ASIA. Oh, and he’s a 9/11 Truther as well.

What actually caught my attention is how Dr. Kohls spread a libelous lie about me. There is no question about whether the information Dr. Kohls spread about me is incorrect. It is not a matter of opinion, judgment, or interpretation. Dr. Kohl has, quite simply, misattributed statements to me in such a way as to portray me as a troll advocating dishonest tactics to attack antivaxers. Whether it is though carelessness or dishonesty (or both) that Dr. Kohls did this, I do not know. The best that can be said about Dr. Kohls is that he demonstrates a reckless disregard for the truth when he characterizes my views on Internet trolling with two quotes that he has misattributed to me. That’s the best. Alternatively, he is lying.

First, he quotes me as having written this passage:

“Go in there and “agree with them” and then say things that appear thoroughly delusional, overtly nuts, blatantly and obviously wrong even to nincompoops, etc. Occasional spelling and grammar errors are also useful but don’t over-do. The point of this exercise is to create an impression that drives away undecideds who may come in to check out these sites. It helps to do this as a group effort and begin gradually, so the sites appear to be “going downhill slowly.” – David Gorski, one of many well-hidden Big Pharma shills who specialize in trolling “safe vaccine” websites of distressed or angry parents whose children have been unequivocally injured or killed by vaccines.

I never wrote anything of the sort. The above passage was taken from an anonymous comment left on my blog on April 20, 2012 by a commenter using the ‘nym g724. Here is the link.

Next, Dr. Kohls claims that I wrote this:

“The way to do it is to first set up a fictitious email address. Speaking from experience working on research on extremist groups…Create a totally fictitious name and then an address that reflects that name e.g. John Doe and JDoe1234@. Second, get an address on a free service provider such as Yahoo or Hotmail or whatever. Since most of these ask for your “other” email address as proof of identity, give them the one on your broadband provider. They will send a confirmation email to that address giving you your starting password. Third, after about a week of using your new fictitious address in various places that let you sign up for comments, you can be sure it’s working, so then go in and delete the address you created on your broadband service. Typically they deactivate the address immediately and then take a month to free up that slot for re-use. This step ensures that your Yahoo or Hotmail address becomes un-traceable back to your broadband provider. Forth, wait a month for the original fictitious name to completely purge from your broadband provider. Fifth: Now you’re home free to get onto the anti-vax boards and any other objectionable boards you want to go after and make all manner of noise to make them look ridiculous and drive away the undecideds. Yeee-hawww, round ‘em up!” – David Gorski, infamous pro-vaccine disinformation agent and surgeon who is on the faculty of Wayne State University. His two pseudonyms are “Orac” and “Respectful Insolence”). Gorski publishes on a blogsite that he has deceptively named “Science-Based Medicine”.

First of all, Dr. Kohls really isn’t very bright, is he? I never go by the ‘nym “Respectful Insolence.” (For some bizarre reason, Dr. Kohls also seems to think that Paul Offit Skeptical Raptor. He is not. I know who the Raptor is and consider him a friend, just as much as Dr. Offit, but Offit is not Skeptical Raptor. He also seems to think that Dr. Offit is a “dominating moderator on Wikipedia.” He is not.) More importantly, though, I’ve never written anything of the sort. Again, the quoted passage was written by the same anonymous commenter using the ‘nym g724 in a comment posted on April 25, 2012. Here is the link. In both cases, Dr. Kohls misattributed comments on my blog to me. Someone ought to teach him how blogs and blog comments work.

Even worse, Dr. Kohls’ source is Truth Library, a site maintained by Mike Adams of, arguably the quackiest site on the Internet. Adams, of course, has been waging a one-man smear campaign against me for nearly three years. He’s accused me of various crimes and even implied that I’m a pedophile. Nice sources that Dr. Kohls relies on there!

So who is Dr. Gary G. Kohls? I had never heard of him before I came across this article. According to his website, he is a retired physician who practiced “holistic” medicine during the last decade or so of his practice, from which he retired in 2008. He started out as a psychiatrist, but sometime around 2000 he went woo:

In 2000, Dr. Kohls began his independent practice of medicine. His special area of interest was in helping people recognize the connections between physical and emotional symptoms, psychological trauma, brain malnutrition and neurotransmitter/brain chemical depletions. Understanding and teaching the concepts of brain nutrition was critical to his success in helping patients with mental health conditions. For several years, in addition to his private practice, Dr. Kohls taught an upper division course in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth, titled The Science and Psychology of the Mind Body Connection. He was also instrumental in starting a Duluth chapter of the international group MindFreedom.

As a physician, Dr. Kohls was known as a thorough, compassionate physician who always spent ample time with his patients. His interest was in discovering the root causes of his patient’s symptoms, working towards prevention and risk reduction. In the past 15 years he immersed himself in the study of the effects of trauma, violence and stress on physical and mental well-being. He studied the links between neurotransmitter depletions and such conditions as depression, insomnia, addictive disorders, eating disorders and fibromyalgia. The toxicity and frequent loss of effectiveness of many anti-depressant drugs led him to new methods of treatment, including the use of more natural and well tolerated amino acids, prescribed on an individualized basis, which replenish the brain’s natural anti-depressants. He took seriously the oath that all physicians take: to First Do No Harm.

I looked at the MindFreedom website. It doesn’t take much to figure out that MindFreedom International is very much anti-psychiatry. Indeed, the splash page of its website advertises a protest planned for the meting of the American Psychiatric Association in San Francisco in May. The whole group has a very Scientology-like air about it, its “methinks he doth protest too much” denial notwithstanding. Indeed, it appears to believe that mental illness does not exist and that psychiatry is torture, just like the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology off-shoot whose purpose is to attack psychiatry.

It’s not clear whether MindFreedom International is affiliated with the Church of Scientology, the way CCHR is. Certainly, MFI is quite extravagant in its denial that it is, so much so that it makes me suspect that it is, in fact affiliated with CCHR. Certainly, there is evidence that MFI might well be affiliated with CCHR. Certainly, at least one former MFI member claims that there are links. Whether MFI is affiliated with Scientology or not probably doesn’t really matter much; its belief system is virtually identical to that of Scientology.

In a way, I must “thank” Gary G. Kohls, MD for giving me an opportunity to do something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, which is to address these quotes misattributed to me, originally by Mike Adams, at least as far as I can tell. He’s also made me aware of a virtual treasure trove of antivaccine misinformation that he’s published that I can keep in my back pocket for times when not much is going on and blogging material is scarce. He’s also got a bunch of videos that can be mined, like this one:

Yes, Dr. Kohls fully buys into the discredited notion that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be used in childhood vaccines caused an “autism epidemic.”

So, yes, from my perspective, Dr. Kohls is an antivaccine quack, and like antivaccine quacks, he’s not too concerned about accuracy, good science, or good medicine. Now, thanks to his error- and misinformation-filled attack on Paul Offit and me, he’s draw attention to himself that I suspect he will find to be unwelcome. I suppose that I should also thank Peter Johnson as well. It was, after all, his article refuting Dr. Kohls’ antivax nonsense that provoked Kohls to attack 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]

105 replies on “Gary G. Kohls, MD mindlessly regurgitates misinformation about Orac”

“His special area of interest was in helping people recognize the connections between physical and emotional symptoms, psychological trauma, brain malnutrition and neurotransmitter/brain chemical depletions.”
Brain malnutrition? Really? I guess we have a fine example of someone suffering from it then, right, Dr. Kohls?

So I read the article (and jeez, that’s quite a helping of conspiratorial wingnuttery) and noticed that the first time he mentions you, you’re ‘Robert Gorski’ but in every other mention you’re David Gorski. Ooh, but maybe Robert is a secret alter ego created after you developed superpowers from a vaccine adjuvant?

…I mean, it makes about as much sense as Kohls’ article.

That said, I did get a bit of a giggle out of “Yeee-hawww, round ‘em up!”, like you’re wielding the Lasso of Vaccination and rounding up all the antivaxxers in the wild, wild west that is the Internet.

“What actually caught my attention is how Dr. Kohls spread a libelous lie about me.”

I hope you plan to sue him into penury. Potentially bankrupting legal action is the only thing that charlatans understand, respect and fear.

Any action that helps to drive these purveyors of deadly misinformation back under their rocks is worth pursuing.

No offense, Judas, but that’s a really easy thing to say when it’s not your money paying the lawyers to sue. Even when working on a contingency basis, litigation is not free.

Can someone ask Kohls, since he seems to be so familiar with the nature of The Big Pharma Conspiracy, to get in touch with the accounts department and ask them to send all my cheques on? I’ve been waiting the longest time for the cash for all the shilling I’ve been doing and, as I’m retired now, I could do with the money.

He also seems to have little idea why some folk, like me, have long used ‘nyms on the internet…

@ Murmur

I am in a similar situation. I’ve made Orac aware of the lack of shillbucks arriving in my bank account. I am certain he is withholding all our payments and frivolously spending them on expensive puppy toys. Puppy toys I say! Not even cat toys. This should demonstrate how low he is willing to sink.

Yeah, I realized that I had written about this before after I wrote this post. Of course, this was 7 years ago. It’s useful to remind people of it and call out the dim Dr. Kohls for regurgitating this lie.

I hope you plan to sue him into penury. Potentially bankrupting legal action is the only thing that charlatans understand, respect and fear.

Judas, I am in agreement with you here. Orac is around-the-clock blogging about the nutcase antivaxxers because has he stated several times, it’s a personal hobby and nothing else. If he is incessantly hurling ad-homs and insults at them it’s because –god darn it!–they deserve it for jeopardizing public health? Good on you Orac for ‘fighting the good fight’ and being such a ‘champion’ of public health!

As for Kohls, perhaps the time is ripe for charlatans such as him to be taught a lesson. Yes Orac — perhaps some court proceedings are in order that will deter other quacks thinking of disparaging true ‘heroes’ such as you and Paul.

Of course if you were to be involved in such a lawsuit you might have to prove that you’re indeed not a shill and in the pocket of big pharma, but that absolutely should not be a problem, should it Orac? Go get him tiger! I almost feel sorry for Kohls!

Orac could easily prove that he is not in big pharma’s pocket and that his opinions reflect scientific consensus. But what about actual malice ? Kohls could as easily prove that he is plain stupid.

Orac could easily prove that he is not in big pharma’s pocket and that his opinions reflect scientific consensus

Yes Aarno, and that’s what really irks me, how brazen and taunting these ‘quacks’ are. Don’t they fear that some day they will get their asses handed to them for all their defamation? Yeah — keep it up ‘quacks’, yours is coming. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or possibly not the day after that, but it’s coming. Yes sirree bob, it’s coming and real soon.

You, of course, as usual, give no argument. Ranting would not change anything. I do not believe that everything we know about medicine will be proven false someday.

Looks like Greg is even more anoxic than usual–his cranium must be somewhere near his transverse colon this morn.

I see you’re still slacking here Christopher. Oh well, I will gladly have you here trading insults if it will possibly result in you missing an appointment, and a child being spared one neuro altering shot.

Christopher, word around town is when you were growing up your momma had you wearing pink socks and matching scarf, what do you have to say about this?

Interestingly enough, the idea that pink is an effeminate colour is a relatively new one. In Victorian times blue was seen as delicate and feminine, while pink was close to a manly red and recommended for young boys by all good lifestyle publications.

“Looks like Greg is even more anoxic than usual” Not at all. I’m convinced that he’s not being ironic, but telling the world his true beliefs.

Grogger, you finally got it right. Good going. I knew if you commented here long enough you’d come around toe side of the angels.

“A disinformation agent publishes or otherwise provides false information that is intended to mislead. Disinformation is called propaganda when issued by government organizations, and it is called advertising when issued by corporations” and all purveyors of CAM. Fixed that for you, no charge.
Sentences like this from sources like this seriously warp my irony meter.

“I am driven by a sense of power and self-confidence that I miss privately. The view of a few hundred, and sometimes several thousand, audience, which lays out with laughter, like cornfields, and you are the perpetrator, is extraordinary.” – Robert Gorski (Polish cabaret artist)

@ Orac,

Is being an entertainer in the genes?

Off topic: So what’s the word that describes when one glances at something and sees one thing and then upon a closer examination, it turns out to be something completely different? Thinking of “misattribution.”

“Misattribution” would mean that you incorrectly attributed the quote to someone other than the person who wrote it. Kolh misattributes the Skeptical Raptor’s blog to Paul Offit. You can also misattribute your autism to vaccines when, in fact it’s genetic.

I’d probably go with “misread”.

“Don’t they fear that some day they will get their asses handed to them for all their defamation?”

Too much trouble and expense for the libeled, in most cases. And suing helps spread the libel publicly.

A wise attorney (Louis Nizer) once told a client that libel was comparable to being splashed with mud by a passing car. Try to wipe it off immediately and it smears all over you. Take the time to let it dry, and it often flakes off and largely disappears on its own. Similarly, if an obscure dingbat libels you, don’t work yourself up too much. He’ll flake off and disappear soon enough. ?

It’s true.

I had every reason in the world to sue Mike Adams for libel, given his multi-month, 40+ post campaign of defamation against me in 2016 in which he accused me of crimes, of being associated with Dr. Farid Fata, and implied that I was a pedophile. I didn’t, not because I didn’t want to, but because I did a very cold, analytical cost-benefit analysis and decided that it just wasn’t worth it at the time. Adams is rich as hell. I’m not. Yes, I’m reasonably well off as an academic surgeon, but I have nowhere near the resources and couldn’t justify spending $50,000-$100,000 or even a heck of a lot more on a legal action that had a fairly high chance of not succeeding, given that that would have been a significant chunk of my retirement nest egg. Also, I knew I could expect Adams to slime me more. That in itself wouldn’t bother me so much, but I bet that he’d have also slimed my family as well and publicized all the private information that he would get in discovery. In the end, I reluctantly decided the price was too high.

Of course, the situation could be different with Dr. Kohls, who seems to be a more equal opponent, at least in terms of resources. What I’ve done instead, however (at least for now) is to write to the editor of the Duluth Reader explaining Kohls’ misattribution and demanding a correction or retraction. We’ll see how that goes. If other readers want to point out to the editor Dr. Kohls’ misattribution, the more the merrier.

Orac and company should note that whilst Null and Gale wrote all sorts of nonsense about Dr DG/ other sceptics, much of it mysteriously disappeared from the website’s scholarly articles ** and accompanying commentary spoken during the noon time woo fest.

AS IF it’s so easy to erase whatever one drops on the internet.

Personally, I would love to hear of a SB person suing him because it is usually the other way round.

** which are all “vetted” by the legal team

Every time I quickly scroll through the comments and come across the word “misattribution”, I keep reading it as “masturbation”. It doesn’t seem to change the meaning..

Whether MFI is affiliated with Scientology or not probably doesn’t really matter much; its belief system is virtually identical to that of Scientology.

As I understand it, there are more than a few former scientologists who left the church, but still believe the doctrine. I’ve heard of a couple different self-help type groups that are explicitly not associated with Scientology that got their starts this way. I happened into a group session run by one of these about a decade ago and didn’t realize what it was until after I started researching the group when I got home the same day. I’m trying to remember the name of the group, but it escapes me for the moment… it wasn’t MFI. I’ll post a response to this comment if I remember it.

Kohls is a long-time contributor to the crackpot website globalresearch .ca.
globalresearch .ca routinely republishes Mike “The DeRanger’s” screeds and is a big promoter of 9/11 Troof and other bizarre conspiracies.
So it should come as no surprise that Kohls is anti-science, anti-vaccine, finds very little that is admirable in the USA, and believes in innumerable paranoid conspiracies such as the childish 9/11 Troof.
(konspiracee tinfoil cap on)
Some would say he is probably a dark-web Russian agent of discord.
(konspiracee tinfoil cap off)
Others would just chalk him up to being a sad and aging crackpot and wonder why anyone would publish his paranoid blather… Duluth Reader?

Never heard of Mind Freedom. They sure are creepy. The “link” to Scientology is obvious but of course there’s nothing formal. I remember the days when Scientology wouldn’t even let people who had had mental health care through the door. They’ve eased up on that I guess.

The site has a whole page dedicated to smearing that former member who felt less than supportive and pushed into Scientology. It’s pretty clear they are distressed, and yet Mind Freedom feels the need to correct the record by divulging info about them. The push to Scientology was “unofficial.” Ugh.

Scientology may refuse people who are undergoing mental health treatment, but sure as hell welcome people who have been sectioned and cut off links with people who had them sectioned. So called suppressives.

That may be true. Sectioned is not a US thing so I can’t comment at all. I do sort of doubt whether they would want much to do with a person who was ill enough to be forced into treatment though. The presumption was (is?) that these people would open fire on the Scientologists because they were brainwashed, Manchurian Candidate style.

“I do sort of doubt whether they would want much to do with a person who was ill enough to be forced into treatment though”.

Things do not happen that way exactly. It’s more complicated than that. People are not necessarily sectioned because they are ill. In fact, in Europe, that would be a violation of a ruling of the European court of human rights to do things in this way.

Scientologists do not necessarily view people that have been committed as ill. Not at first glance, though. That’s what makes it appealing to the population they are trying to recruit. They welcome those who oppose the psychiatric treatment they were forced into, and give them the opportunity to speak out.

Sectioned is not a US thing so I can’t comment at all.

It absolutely is; it’s a colloquialism for being involuntary admitted, generally for a 72 hour hold. (To start with, anyway.) People will also refer to the Baker Act, 5150, etc.

At JP: in Germany, there is the PsychKG. It states that you can admit a patient only if there is danger of harm to the patient him- or herself or if the patient significantly endangers others.

Cheesymaus: that’s the gist of the law in most countries. The only problem is that psychiatrists have an understanding on the notion of danger that is rather far-fetched, and not in sync with what most people believe that danger refers to.

Yeah, the “danger to self or others” is the standard in every US state I know of, but there are variations. In most states, the danger must be “immanent,” but not in WA, for instance. WA also includes “gravely disabled” in the list of reasons for involuntary admission, which clearly has a looooot of wiggle room.

I’ve witness someone being sectioned over a disagreement concerning his academic orientation. Leaving engineering school for something else was categorized as “dangerous to self”. The rationale being that making wrong such choices is endangering oneself. That’s massive wiggling in the wiggle room.

Yeah, the “danger to self or others” is the standard in every US state I know of, but there are variations. In most states, the danger must be “immanent,” but not in WA, for instance.

I’ve had to fight with the police night after night to get someone taken to the ER, and it took several visits there before the hold finally materialized. This was a serious case: there was a history, the apartment was destroyed (along with an eviction afterward), and there were too many “friendly strangers,” two of whom banged a hole in the wall during the hospitalization and stole the valuables.

It ain’t easy in this neck of the woods.

The second time I was in the psych ward in Michigan (after I talked my way out the first time) my friends (especially E and SF) had been frantically calling my psychiatrist to try to get me back in the hospital; later on, SF said that he kept saying things along the line of “she has rights.” I also talked with numerous times on the phone and he tried to just tell me that it seemed like people were really worried and maybe I should listen to them.

It was actually my advisor who finally “caught” me and said something along the lines of “now that I’ve got you here, I’m not letting you out of my sight.” So he matched me to CAPS and bought me some sort of decent meal; at some point later I was sitting in the department with him and another guy on my comittee (who was also chair at the time) and I was saying some weird stuff and Ben was trying to argue with me about it. I mean, yeah, it was weird stuff, but honestly not totally out of line with weird religious stuff all kinds of people might say or believe in. Anyway, he was also kind of freaking out due to past experience with family, and he was the one who I shook hands with about going to the hospital “at least for a day.”

The hospitalization honestly didn’t help, though, it just made me mad and distrustful.

I remember when I was up staying back and forth with a few different friends in Madison, people from Michigan were also calling them and just absolutely freaking out, to the point where my friend Derek actually just hung up on SF one time. They also talked to my shrink a couple times, and said that I “seemed okay” (I did not, really, apparently, but not in a way that force or coercion would have helped.)

Like my friend Andy said a while back that yeah, I was manic and not sleeping much and kind of talking a mile a minute about weird stuff sometimes. And I was drinking excessively, but that isn’t entirely unusual. But they just sort of kept an eye out and let me do my thing and encouraged me to come back for dinner and stick around at night and stuff. I mean, it’s not like I was walking into traffic or anything.

One time E called Andy and was freaking out like, “she’s saying she’s a shaman,” and Andy was just like, “Hmm. What do you think that means? That could mean a lot of different things.”

I mean, these are people I’ve known for over a decade, they’ve seen me go through some sh!t, if nothing quite like that.

@Narad: it’s both way too easy for certain people and way too difficult for others. It’s not a contradiction at all. Think about it: you’re a doctor receiving patients at an emergency department. Case 1: you see a teenager’s parents voicing serious concern of their otherwise quiet son/daughter that they’ve brought to the hospital. Case 2: you have someone who’s violent at their own home and the police has been called.

In case 1, as a doctor, you cannot overlook the alleged suicidality of the teenager, as you simply do not know what’s going on. And the teenager is in front of you right now. Moreover, mom is a health worker, for example, and seems to be well meaning. Some sweet talking, and you end up “tricking” the teenager into an involuntary voluntary hospitalisation. The kind JP exposed.

In case 2, the patient is not suicidal, no threat to self, is violent but sporadically calms down. Police has to come, ask what’s going on. “Friendly strangers” claim that the situation is manageable… it ends up being quite a stretch from there to the emergency room… And even in the case that it gets to the emergency room, as there are chronic shortages of beds in psychiatry, better to have these beds reserved to severely depressed people than to a random trouble maker.

To get someone sectioned, it’s easier if you’re in scenario 1 than in scenario 2. In scenario 1, it’s too easy to get sectioned. In scenario 2, it’s too difficult.

There’s no magic involved, nor a conspiracy.

Equating MindFreedom with Scientology is ludicrous. Of course, when people are thrown into the coercive version of psychiatry, they tend to gravitate away from psychiatry, then flirt with Scientology’s discourse, then go “antipsychiatry”. So you’ll always see confusion here and overlap there, but MindFreedom is clearly doing all that it can to distance itself with Scientology. They can only do so much, given the way Scientology has been hijacking critics of psychiatry for decades.


Scientology is way more than pseudoscience. MindFreedom is partly delusional in its antipsychiatry stance, and partly well aware of serious issues in psychiatric care. It’s not an unbiased source, far from it, but silencing them is not useful either: there clearly is room for criticism of psychiatry. Psychiatry both saves lives and kills people. Under normal circumstances, it’s worth having it at one’s disposal. But “normal” is not always “normal” in psychiatry, and for some people, it can end up feeling like being caught in a game of Russian roulette.

Doing away with MindFreedom is oversimplistic. Though an organisation that would frame its criticisms more rationally would be more than welcome. It’s unlikely that there will be one soon enough, though, resentment of patients being the driving force behind the development of such organisations.

Kohls has cranked out a ton of, well, crank articles accessible from the the Duluth Reader website. A year ago he used the NN tactic of blaming mass shootings on psych meds – but also linked the development of “sociopathic killers” to other factors:

“Our hopeless, futureless, jobless, parentless, abused, neglected, lonely, over-entertained, over-indulged, unloved, sleep-deprived, mal-nourished, over-vaccinated, over-drugged, abused, beaten, bullied, brain-washed “loners” represent what can be considered America’s new normal.”

Yep, too many vaccines and a Netflix subscription = school shootings. And this guy was a psychiatrist?

Physician, heal thyself.

One more observation –

Kohls wrote an anti-psych, anti-ECT article with Dr. Peter R. Breggin.
Breggin has a Scientology connection as in one of Orac’s links:
“Mindfreedom claims to rely on their “scientific” counsel, which is mainly comprised of people without medical degrees. It includes Dr. Peter Breggin. According to Wikiepedia, Breggin acknowledges that he did work with Scientology starting in 1972, but states that by 1974 he “found [himself] opposed to Scientology’s values, agenda, and tactics”, … Breggin’s wife, Ginger, is reported to have been a Scientologist,…”
and then you have Kohls dropping all pretense and writing an anti-psychiatry screed with the Scientologists(CCHR):
“Psychiatric Drugs: Create Violence and Suicide, School Shootings and Other Acts of Senseless Violence
By Citizens Commission on Human Rights and Dr. Gary G. Kohls
Global Research, March 23, 2018”

Riiight! He has no connection with Scientology.
I can believe that… in a pig’s eye.
I’m with Orac on Kohls’ denial of Scientology association – “methinks he doth protest too much”.
BTW – Kohls has also written screeds for globalresearch .ca with anti-vaccine loons David Brownstein and Kenneth P. Stoller.
Brownstein’s lunacy has been covered by Orac recently but I haven’t seen him deconstruct the nutty Stoller.
Stoller is a doctor who bought hisself a hyperbaric chamber and now everything, and I do mean everything, can be cured with hyperbarics… including teh autizmz and other “vaccine injuries.”

MindFreedom is composed of former mental patients who do not understand the rules of science and associate without sound judgement with physicians that are not serious ones. Do you expect more of former mental patients? They seldom have a PhD if they have sectioned 10 times, enough to hold a grudge and join MindFreedom. Some do have PhDs and are misguided.

Do not seek their advice on medical matters. Nonetheless, listen to some of their stories of medical care having gone wrong. There are more than enough stories of things going wrong in psych wards. Sad that you have to turn to disgruntled patients associations to have them documented, which undermines the reliability of testimonials.

Breggin is known for his anti-medication stance. He has a show on PRN, fitting right in.

Breggin’s anti-medication stance is only the tip of the iceberg of what is problematic in psychiatry and in “antipsychiatry”. It’s the tree that’s hiding the forest. Almost irrelevant. His stance is hardly the driving force behind patients’ noncompliance. It’s almost, but not quite, a false problem.

I would argue that his anti-medication position places him firmly within the charmed circle of woo and endears him to woo-meisters, Scientologists and (some) anti-vaxxers who preach against ALL medication for any and all mental as well as physical problems.

Because there are multiple issues with treatment for people with mental illness doesn’t mean that one part of that is insignificant. This is how they attract followers: throw any meds and HEAL naturally or through holistic, sympathetic therapy. If that worked, it would have been done decades ago. Some people will need meds- imperfect as they are- in order to function better and more independently.

Given how medication is used in psych wards, in the real world, it’s hardly surprising that people oppose medication. What Dr Breggin claims is only an echo chamber with a veneer of scientificity on which some mental patients retroject their dissatisfaction at being treated like garbage by healthcare professionals for care they didn’t ask for in the first place.

That’s the frame of mind you have to cope with when dealing with some mental patients.

So, no: Dr. Breggin is mostly irrelevant to the issue at hand. We would be living in an alternate reality if he were relevant.

Do you expect more of former mental patients?


I mean, for starters, according to a common-sense definition of “mental patient,” I know lots of current mental patients who are, say, professors.

I meant mental patients that have been forcefully sectioned more than one time. Which is the kind of persons that MindFreedom attempts to speak to. Statistically, they’re not university professors. I can bet my hand on that one.

I’m not taking about the vanilla strain of depressed moms or the slightly paranoid university professor that finds psychotherapy useful. These patients are perfectly happy with their pills or their care and are not the ones MindFreedom will attempt to speak to or speak for.

I meant mental patients that have been forcefully sectioned more than one time. Which is the kind of persons that MindFreedom attempts to speak to. Statistically, they’re not university professors. I can bet my hand on that one.

I’ve been sectioned more than once. I have most of a PhD. No, I’m not a professor, but I could possibly be one if I decided to go back and finish. (I’m not interested in this point, mainly because it would be a huge amount of stress and trouble for something that honestly isn’t that likely to get one a job any more, unless you want to end up adjuncting. And I frankly don’t think anybody should adjunct.)

I can also tell you that I’m not the only one. I’ve met all kinds of people in psych wards. It’s surprisingly easy to be involuntarily admitted, depending on which professionals you run into and what you say to them.

@JP I know, I know, I agree.

Still, the average population is fairly average. Or a bit less than average.

It’s not a disparaging statement.

I meant mental patients that have been forcefully sectioned more than one time.

This actually quite rare, as I understand things after many years up-close; in Illinois, that’s the stick — if you sign in voluntarily, you can stay here; otherwise, you’re going to the public hospital in the exurbs.

Yeah, idk, Narad has experience with this too, but in this aspect it doesn’t line up with mine. In my personal experience, if you’re put on a hold, you’ll be put basically anywhere that has a bed. Well, thinking about it, I guess, when I was in Michigan I had private insurance and I’m not sure how they picked hospitals for me (I know there are worse places than St. Joe’s and UM), but being voluntary or not didn’t have anything to do with it.

And I mean, “you can go voluntarily or we can send you involuntarily” isn’t exactly non-forced.

The place I went to out here in WA was the only place for several counties and most people were there involuntarily. So that’s kind of different.

@JP. If I understand you correctly, on the basis of nuisance problems, you have been told it’s voluntary or involuntary. The danger to yourself being that by your behavior your shrink feared that you would go to jail. So, to avoid the danger of being jailed for a fixed amount of time, you were offered the certainty of being committed for an unknown amount of time?

That’s logic at its best.

Nah, that was an actual involuntary admission, and I didn’t know my shrink’s rationale until afterward. I wasn’t included in any of the talk about anything; I was in an isolation room singing to myself in Russian or whatever.

I mean, it is sort of complicated. Like, I had agreed to go to the ED, and I had even agreed to go to the hospital for “at least one day” before I went to the ED (I mean, hey, I shook hands), and then once I was there I decided I wanted to go home. So it ended up being involuntary.

But then the next morning at St. Joe’s, the doctor said she would change my paperwork to voluntary if I wanted, and of course I was like, “yes, please,” but then I found out pretty quickly that “voluntary” did not actually mean you could leave if you wanted to.

@JP. It’s rather typical. Even being left in the dark concerning the rationale of the hospitalisation. It often happens this way, and it’s one of the reasons so many mental patients end up identifying an external locus of control in psychiatrists and psychiatry generally. Voluntary admission by no means means that you are allowed to leave. Psychiatrists retain the right to commute your voluntary admission in an involuntary one if you want to leave.

Rather typical. It’s a rather unsettling experience if you do not know what to expect…

I remember “g724”- in fact, I argued with him that his plan was totally wrong: our strength is that we are fact based- so why make up stuff? ( see my comment quoted in the post louveha provides).

I think that Orac should realise that his fame has increased greatly because various quacks devote so much time and effort making him appear unattractive to their marks:
— Mike Adams has written vicious lies/ articles associating him with a criminal doctor who happens to work in the same city, making it appear as if they worked together
— Gary Null has produced a shitload of articles at PRN insulting Orac, SBM and sceptics at Wikipedia.
The nasty woo-meister has admitted that he hasn’t been invited to speak at conferences recently and that he lost a big book deal because of what is written about him on the internet. He’s looking for a new publisher,
Anti-vaxxers complain as well

I do find it hilarious when these investigators get their targets’ names or place of employment wrong ( Wake Forest, anyone?)

But sceptics can take heart that alties are up in arms about “censorship” at facebook, twitter, google, you tube, Wikipedia etc and are having to find or create other outlets for their swill.
We’re getting somewhere.

I think I’ve poked around on MindFreedom before; the name rings a bell, but the site looks a lot different than I remember, and doesn’t have all the same content. Revamp, probably. But yeah, the “we’re not affiliated with Scientology” disclaimers all over the place are really pretty standard for any biggish web presence that’s critical of psychiatry at all, because so much stuff out there is a front for Scientology. Like, I think even Thomas Szasz teamed up with the Church of Scientology at least for a while. It’s not a “the lady doth protest too much” thing. It looks like the site actually has some pretty good resources listed, and pushing back against forced treatment, restraints, involuntary drugging, seclusion, etc., is a good thing. I can tell you for a fact that stuff is way more commonly used in psych wards and ERs than it should ever be.

I’ve been in seclusion twice, once in a psych ED and once in a psych ward. In the ED I basically got marched there because I had been more-or-less tricked into going to the ED by friends, I eventually got bored and and then I started getting annoyed and making noise about wanting to leave, so they put me in this tiny white room with bright hospital lights and nothing but a bare plastic bench affixed to the wall. For hours.

From there I went to a psych ward (I’ve been in multiple times, four out of five involuntarily), which honestly was a dumb decision imo, all things considered. Like, you take somebody who’s manic and getting paranoid, and you lock them up against their will in a small locked ward where people are literally watching them all the time. Yes, that is most certainly going to help. (I talked to my psychiatrist at the time afterwards and he said like he felt like he had to sign off, mainly because he was worried I would end up in jail. I mean, I had had a couple of interactions with the police due to nuisance behavior, which is a whole other rant, but in any case, I wasn’t less crazy when I got out of there.)

Oh yeah, and while I was in the psych ward that time I got grabbed and manhandled and thrown in another seclusion room (this one had a mattress on the floor, and you had to ask to go to the bathroom, and the nurse got mad when I asked to do so twice), had my pants yanked down and got a shot in the @ss. Then locked in there alone for hours. This was a really awesome experience for somebody who has been raped and otherwise physically assaulted and who freaks out about being confined. (I mean, I don’t think most people react well to being locked in cages.)

And no, I wasn’t being violent or threatening or even verbally abusive or anything beforehand.

I’m not even going to go into all the other stuff and the other places. It’s a lot. And I’ve seen truly awful treatment of other people, too. I’ve actually emailed with my old shrink in Michigan and he pretty much agrees with me on all this stuff. Things need to change in a bad way, but honestly most people don’t care, and hospitals don’t really care, either, for the most part. I mean, whether they change or not, they’ve pretty much got a… captive clientele.

There you go.

That’s the kind of patient MindFreedom attempts to speak to.

And it’s not rocket science to understand why.

Hiya, JP.

OT: Our esteemed host is seeking help to translate a paywalled piece in Danish (in re: l’affaire Gøtzsche). I seem to recall that several minions are fluent and may be able to assist, but don’t recall who, exactly. I know it’s not your speciality, but thought you might remember. There’s a tweet from this morning on his main account, if you or anyone else would like to reply directly. TIA.


Hi, kfunk!

Yeah, there was a regular here whose location was always “rødgrød med fløde,” but I can’t think of the ‘nym.

Uncle Smut is of Danish extraction but does not speak the language, so he is of no help here.

MindFreedom’s NYC contact is Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein who also works for Gary Null.
Google MFI Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein

The claim is that the lump is associated with chronic influenza-like symptoms. Needless to say that evidence is scant.

The “chronic influenza-like symptoms” are optional. They appear when Gherardi et al. are writing press releases, but they were absent in the clinical reports staking out the territory where he was trying to be taken seriously.

The other unique feature of MMF was that initially almost all cases were diagnosed within the borders of France. Actual diseases don’t usually respect geo-political boundaries. IIRC the WHO made a public announcement about the lack of evidence for such a pathology; that largely ended the “epidemic”.

The fact that it was found only in France is not a reason to discard the entity, as you have to start looking somewhere before finding. It’s rather the fact that case studies are rather inconclusive.

It’s a shame that research credits were unlocked following a hunger strike of “patients” in 2012.

It’s not even a lump, just a microscopic aggregate of histiocytes containing tiny bits of aluminum compound.

No demonstrated association with disease and minimal localized effect on muscle fibers.

MMF could be called Phantom Yehuda Syndrome.

I know you’re being facetious, but please come up with another name for it. We Jews have a tough enough time these days without using a name so closely associated with us.

Catchy headline at MedPage Today “No More ‘Truth Decay’ It’s time to stand up against anti-vaxxers” today ( ) where it is very much about a new social contract of education.

Meanwhile an article yesterday about the current measles outbreak in Vancouver BC, a father states ” “We worried 10-12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine,” said Bilodeau. “Doctors were coming out with research connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. So we were a little concerned.”​​ ” ( )

As has been noted here before by others, where are the medical licensing authorities, revoking licenses; medical societies unequivocal statements? The authors of the first article quote WHO, when the father in the second says “doctors”. I suspect there could of been a different outcome, if there had been quick and unequivocal censure of the anti-vaxxer doctors, including those who ride the for and against line.

The Guardian is taking off the gloves with the antivaxers and has a whole series of recent articles about their role in the measles and other outbreaks. They are also going after social media that are tacitly or openly tolerating antivax groups. Interesting reading.

Glad to see it’s back. “Dr” Khols deserves the smack-down you so eloquently delivered. I spent my lunchtime duelling with an antivaxer. Problem being, he didn’t bother to put up any sources for his blather, he just said, in effect, that his science was better than mine, because I quoted such sources as the CDC.

“Vaccines didn’t save us.” Strange. I heard a news item on NPR this morning about the collapse of medicine in Venezuela. The Americas were the first region found by the WHO to have eradicated measles. Without the effective vaccination program they used to have, they now have had more than 6,500 cases with 76 deaths. There have been 10,000 cases in Brazil with 12 deaths. It’s spilling over into Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
Sadly, antivaxxers can’t get their heads around the repeated episodes of vaccine-preventable diseases when the promotion, or lack of, tracks so closely to the ebb and flow of vaccination.programs.
Let one of them explain why polio only persists in places where zealots with Kalashnikovs who hate and fear vaccination control public discourse.

Oh, and Orac, you’ve been paying trolls? And you haven’t given me one cent. I’m going to take this up with the Amalgamated Trolls and Shills of America. My shop steward is going to hear about this!

Yeah, Orac, you ought to pay us trolls a few more shillings this time. Pennies won’t cut it any more, even anonymous cowards need to eat. XD

Ross and Sara, for all the gnashing of teeth, pounding of chest and vowing to take down the antivaxxers, I still don’t see how this will solve your main problem. The antivaxxer, in the big scheme of things, although an attractive villain is just a phantom one. Your real nemeses are provaxxers.

We are considering provaxxers who drink the kool-aid and vaccinate their kids, and when they lose the gamble want blood. Then there are the other provaxxers who despite peddling the BS are not stupid and will not practice what they preach. Until these realities are addressed, and frankly I don’t see how they can, you guys may as well be punching at the wind.

As I explained countless times you guys will never win, because to do so you will ultimately have to defeat yourselves.

Can you give example a proivaxer that does not vaccinate. They know that vaccines are safe and effective and that autism is genetic.

Then there are the other provaxxers who despite peddling the BS are not stupid and will not practice what they preach.

Ah, this again. It’s a pretty limited repertoire that you have, Gerg.

“Adams, of course, has been waging a one-man smear campaign against me for nearly three years. He’s accused me of various crimes and even implied that I’m a pedophile.” -So why not sue Adams for defamation of character?

@Greg I should actually thank you. There are measles epidemic in Finland (no bad deed go unrewarded). I must check do I need MMR.

The utter bounder!

I shall inform my cats that their lack of cat treats is because the money has gone on someone else’s puppy toys.

Ummm, this is supposed to be a reply to Sirhcton somewhere above – dunno how it got here.

It’s an article of faith among antivaxers that pro-immunization docs and pharma execs don’t have their kids vaccinated.

Just another paranoid antivax fantasy.

There was the one particular accusation against Senator Pan that he had medical exemptions for his own children.

This rumor was started by an anti-vax troll, who later admitted he made it up out of whole cloth….yet it keeps getting repeated by other trolls on Facebook.

Grogger, please explain what social and lifestyle changes eliminated rinderpest just at the same time that an intensive vaccination drive was being conducted in the places where it was endemic.
Or do tell what happened at the exact same time that vaccination programs were going on that coincidentally extinguished smallpox.
Or why polio has only persisted in places where antivaxxer terrorists hold sway.
Or why rabies disappears when the affected population is vaccinated.
But you can’t come up with convincing answers, can you?

I was curious about the publication–is it a well-regarded paper or just a rag–and got the following reply to my questions from a librarian at the Duluth Public Library:

“The Reader Weekly is a free Duluth publication that is distributed to local businesses and organizations like the public library in addition to its online presence. Here is the description that appears in our catalog (taken from the publication itself at some point):

Reader Weekly is an alternative newspaper published in Duluth and distributed throughout Duluth, Superior, the Iron Range, and up the north shore to Two Harbors and Grand Marais. It is the last locally owned and operated media in the area. We cover local news, politics, entertainment, art, and culture. Our two week entertainment calendar is the most comprehensive ‘go to’ source for what’s happening in the region for local music, plays, events, and the arts”

I was unable to find circulation information on the website or in any of our printed resources with data about newspapers, so I emailed the paper asking what their weekly run is. I will forward that information to you when I hear back from the Reader.

It is hard to speak to the reputation of the paper other than to say there is a clear demand for it based on how quickly the copies are taken and how widespread the distribution is. Here at the library it is archived as an important part of local history and culture (which is not to say any or all of the ideas expressed in it are endorsed by the library).”

Obviously it’s not a good source for medical information and the editor doesn’t care about the truth of Dr. Kohl’s remarks.

Routinely, I ask antivaxxers how so many diseases seem to have been extirpated at the same time that vaccination programs are taking place. Routinely they stick their fingers in their ears or avert their eyes.
Improved nutrition and sanitation, my ass.

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