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NIH funding lies weaponized as disinformation

It’s depressing to see formerly respected academics spread lies about the NIH funding process in order to undermine trust in COVID-19 public health science.

It is well known that distrust of science is the sine qua non of science denial, and that distrust extends to all of the institutions, mechanisms, and trappings of science that do not tell them what they want to hear. That quacks and antivaxxers have a pathologic distrust of big pharma is unsurprising, but they also distrust a number of other pillars that support science, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Part and parcel of that distrust is a narrative that applying for and successfully obtaining NIH funding for your scientific research represent an intolerable financial conflict of interest (COI), every bit as severe as the more commonly accepted financial COI of accepting funding from pharmaceutical companies or policy think tanks. Before the pandemic, I used to hear this sort of nonsense mainly from people who had never received an NIH grant or served on an NIH study section. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case any more.

Yesterday, I saw Dr. Jay Bhattacharya amplifying such a claim:

Dr. Bhattacharya, for those unfamiliar with him, is one of the three scientists who wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated a ‘let ‘er rip” strategy for COVID-19 among the “young and healthy” in order to achieve “natural herd immunity” faster, with a “focused protection” strategy to safeguard the elderly and those at high risk of severe disease and death. It was a strategy that could never have worked in practice. Here, he is amplifying a myth about the NIH beloved of antivaxxers, quacks, and cranks. He must know that it’s a myth, as we will see, but he spreads it anyway. What does that make him?

What about Dr. Aaron Kheriaty? I’ll include his thread here so that you don’t have to visit Twitter to see it:

Far be it from me to argue that the NIH is beyond reproach or that the NIH grant funding decision process isn’t without significant shortcomings, but Dr. Kheriaty’s proposal is just plain unworkable—and full of stereotypes, such as the idea that California has more of a problem with mental illness than any other state. One also wonders which states would control funding for cancer research or cardiovascular disease, given that, although there are geographic disparities in incidence for both, these diseases affect every state to a large degree.

Contrary to Dr. Kheriaty’s characterization, the NIH was set up the way it was in order to try to insulate it as much as was feasible against gross political manipulation (although, admittedly, it doesn’t always work, as Republicans and the odd Democrat have occasionally tried to demonstrate). To sprinkle the NIH budget among 50 states would not only greatly dilute the impact of that $45 billion, but would spread it to a number of states that have indeed been nakedly political about public health and science, such as Texas or, even worse, Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis brought in Dr. Joseph Ladapo to run the state’s public health infrastructure. Dr. Ladapo, you might recall, was a member of the quack group America’s Frontline Doctors, which was dedicated to promoting unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine during the summer of 2020 and then pivoted to ivermectin, promoting antivaccine misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, and pandemic grift running a prescription mill for this similarly ineffective repurposed drug. Unsurprisingly, he is a big fan of the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated a “let ‘er rip” approach to the pandemic in order to achieve “natural herd immunity” more rapidly. It was always an approach to the pandemic that could never have worked.

Moreover, unlike the federal government and the NIH, states don’t have the dense network of laws and regulations built up over the last several decades in order to try to keep the NIH insulated from the worst partisan political influences. I suspect, of course, that that’s the point of Dr. Kheriaty’s suggestion: To dilute the overall effect of the NIH budget and instead turn it into an ideological or partisan patronage machine for science. As for the claim that all scientists who have received NIH funding have some sort of hopeless COI because of it, that’s just part of the whole antiscience narrative that seeks to cast doubt on all the usual structures and mechanisms undergirding the scientific enterprise and thereby cast doubt on the findings of science itself.

Let’s look at the narrative, though, in which Dr. Bhattacharya claims that it’s a “deep conflict of interest” to have someone like Anthony Fauci be involved with public health policy. I’m just going to say it right now. Dr. Bhattacharya is peddling disinformation, because that’s not how the NIH funding process works—and, as I will show, he almost certainly knows it. Dr. Fauci has been the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since the mid-1980s. The NIAID is just one institute in the NIH, the others including the National Cancer Institute (NCI, the institute that I’m most familiar dealing with), National Eye Institute (NEI), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and several others. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)—which as such a long history of funding quackery—is also part of the NIH, but as a center it has a lower status than as an institute.

The implied idea behind the narrative being promoted by Drs. Bhattacharya and Kheriaty is that you have to hew to the ideological beliefs of an institute director like Dr. Fauci in order to have a chance of obtaining grant funding from the NIH. Whether these two realize it or not, it’s an old idea that I’ve seen peddled by antivaccine sources like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and others going way back. I like to point out that it’s all projection. Grifters don’t do anything without being paid and don’t pay anyone who doesn’t serve their interests; so they assume that everything else in the world works that way too, including the NIH. Similarly, conspiracy theorists like antivaxxers and COVID-19 are very prone to believing that there must be a quid pro quo for everything; so they are very gullible when it comes to claims that scientists are all in the thrall of Anthony Fauci because they depend on the NIH for funding.

One reason why this is nonsensical is that Dr. Fauci is only the director of one institute out of 20 institutes and the National Library of Medicine. He has no power over what happens in the other institutes. More importantly, this idea that investigators have to hew to whatever the ideological line of the current administration at any given institute happens to be is a vast exaggeration. Obviously, the NIH director and individual institute directors have considerable power to shape the priorities of the NIH and their respective institutes, but they have to do so within the constraints of the law, regulations, and Congressional funding. Again, I’m not going to claim that the NIH funding process isn’t flawed. It is, and it could use a number of improvements. Whatever its real flaws, however, being a grift machine in which investigators must kowtow to the NIH leadership (like Dr. Fauci) or risk having one’s funding cut off is not one of them. To understand why, all you have to know is how the process actually works.

Let’s say that you’ve submitted a grant application to the NIH to try to win funding your research. Let’s first look at what the NIH says about the peer review process by which it will be evaluated:

The NIH dual peer review system is mandated by statute in accordance with section 492 of the Public Health Service Act and federal regulations

governing “Scientific Peer Review of Research Grant Applications and Research and Development Contract Projects”. NIH policy is intended to promote a process whereby grant applications submitted to the NIH are evaluated on the basis of a process that strives to be fair, equitable, timely, and free of bias.

The first level of review is carried out by a Scientific Review Group (SRG; also referred to as study sections) composed primarily of non-federal scientists who have expertise in relevant scientific disciplines and current research areas.

The second level of review is performed by Institute and Center (IC) National Advisory Councils or Boards. Councils are composed of both scientific and public representatives chosen for their expertise, interest, or activity in matters related to health and disease.

Only applications that are recommended for approval by both the SRG and the Advisory Council may be recommended for funding. Final funding decisions are made by the IC Directors.

Or, in more detail:

The NIH uses a two-stage review process. In the first stage, two to five reviewers individually evaluate each grant application by assigning a preliminary rating using the NIH’s reverse 9-point scale (1 = exceptional, 9 = poor) and writing a critique describing the application’s strengths and weaknesses. Most typically, three reviewers are assigned to an application: a primary, a secondary, and a tertiary reviewer, ranked in order of the relevance of their expertise. Reviewers then convene in study section meetings, where they discuss the applications that received preliminary ratings in the top half of all applications evaluated. After sharing their preliminary ratings and critiques, the two to five assigned reviewers discuss the application with all other study section members, all of whom assign a final rating to the application. This final rating from all members is averaged into a final “priority score.” In the second stage, members of NIH’s advisory councils use this priority score and the written critiques to make funding recommendations to the director of the NIH institute or center that awards the funding. Reviewers in study sections are prohibited from discussing or considering issues related to funding and instead are encouraged to rate each application based on its scientific merit alone.

Or, step-by-step:

  • NIH program staff members examine applications and consider the overall impact scores given during the peer review process, percentile rankings (if applicable) and the summary statements in light of the Institute/Center’s priorities.
  • Program staff provide a grant-funding plan to the Advisory Board/Council. Council members have access to applications and summary statements pending funding for that IC in that council round.
  • Council members conduct a Special Council Review of grant applications from investigators who currently receive $1 million or more in direct costs of NIH funding to support Research Project Grants (see NOT-OD-12-140). This additional review is to determine if additional funds should be provided to already well-supported investigators and does not represent a cap on NIH funding.
  • The Advisory Council/Board also considers the Institute/Center’s goals and needs and advises the Institute/Center director concerning funding decisions.
  • The Institute/Center director makes final funding decisions based on staff and Advisory Council/Board advice.

Aha! Cranks say, the institute and center directors make the final funding decisions, no matter how reviewers are supposedly encouraged to rate each application on scientific merits alone! There’s your grift! Not exactly.

In actuality, the institute directors mostly sign off on decisions that have already been nearly finalized after multiple layers of review, starting with the study section review that determines a priority score, then program staff and Advisory Board/Council review. That’s not to say that the institute director doesn’t have influence, but it’s not how cranks like to describe it, namely as near total power to decide who does and does not get funded based on a whim. The places where the director has influence tend to be at the margins and by setting the overall priorities of the institute. Believe it or not, the NIH review process strives to be as close to a meritocracy as a human evaluation can be. Moreover, if you submit a grant that gets a score that puts it, say, in the 3rd percentile (top 3% of grant scores) and the payline is, say, the 10th percentile, you’re going to get the grant. If you’re on the borderline, it’s possible to call up your program official assigned to your grant to make a pitch (and sometimes it will even help), but in general it’s the NIH study section peer review system that determines which grant applications are funded, not the IC directors.

Again, no one is claiming that the NIH review process is a perfect (or even near-perfect) system, to the point where one Twitter denizen responded:

Of course, honest critique of the grant funding system is not what Drs. Bhattacharya and Kheriaty are about, any more than it was what antivaxxers were about back in the day. Weaving a conspiracy theory to explain why scientists don’t accept crank views is.

And:

Indeed. There are reasons why the rich get richer and the poor tend to remain poor in terms of NIH funding, and they have nothing to do with which institutions and investigators kiss Dr. Fauci’s posterior the hardest. Indeed, look at Stanford University, Dr. Bhattacharya’s home institution, and its level of NIH funding, which is quite impressive. Ditto Johns Hopkins University, where COVID-19 über-contrarian Dr. Marty Makary resides. Certainly these institutions, even though they house some of the most vociferous critics of Dr. Fauci and the federal pandemic response, haven’t suffered.

Dr. Wallach noted that an investigator can submit the same grant twice and get wildly different scores, something that’s been noted in the literature. There are also known to be racial disparities in priority scores received for grant applications, and those aren’t the only problems. There are lots of other problems with the grant evaluation and funding process at the NIH that could use reform and improvement. It’s just that none of these problems includes Dr. Fauci or any other IC director whispering to investigators whose ideological views they don’t like, “Nice grant application you submitted there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.” Yet that’s exactly the picture that people like Dr. Kheriaty and Dr. Bhattacharya are painting for their followers about COVID-19 public health policy.

NIH directors as perceived by cranks
How institute directors expect grant applicants to treat them, according to the narrative being promoted by Drs Bhattacharya and Kheriaty on social media.

We’ve met Dr. Kheriaty before. You might recall that he is a former professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the medical school and director of the medical ethics program at UC-Irvine Health and was fired from posts at the medical school for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Naturally, he’s now on Substack, which, like so many other Substack blogs, is full of rants about “coercion” and support for bad science like the Great Barrington Declaration. He also appeared on an episode of The Highwire with Del Bigtree entitled “Natural Immunity” Is Our Way Out of the Pandemic. Let’s just say that, if even UC-Irvine (home of homeopathy-loving “integrative medicine“) can’t stomach you, you’re probably really bad at science. He doesn’t appear to have had any NIH grants, if a search on NIH RePORTER is any indication; so, given that generally you have to have had an NIH grant to be invited to be a standing member of a study section I’m pretty sure that he’s never served on an NIH study section (although I could be wrong, given that ad hoc reviewers are sometimes invited for their special expertise). I thus conclude that Dr. Kheriaty could be speaking from ignorance, although if he’s been in academic medicine for a while it’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t have at least some vague idea of how NIH study sections work.

In contrast, Dr. Bhattacharya almost certainly must know that his narrative is disinformation; that is, unless he’s fallen so far down the rabbit hole that he’s now become a true believer in his own conspiracy theories and, much like the dealer who gets high on his own supply, has lost touch with reality when it comes to the conspiracy theories he peddles. Just look at his CV on the Stanford website if you don’t believe me. Granted, it hasn’t been updated since 2016, but it shows that he has served on multiple NIH study sections. He therefore knows how they run, how grant applications are actually evaluated, and that the narrative he is promoting is divorced from reality, whatever the real problems with NIH review process might be. If you look him up in NIH RePORTER, you’ll find that he’s been principal or co-investigator on a number of NIH grants too. Does that mean he’s been hopelessly ideologically captured by institute directors overseeing his grants?

The bottom line is that the idea that NIH-funded investigators and those seeking NIH funding (almost all of us at one time or another) have an irreconcilable COI that makes us unwilling (or at least reluctant) to counter Dr. Fauci’s statements and recommendations about the COVID-19 pandemic is a form of projection common in right-wing libertarian thinking of the sort promoted by the kinds of “free market” think tanks behind COVID-19 minimization and statements like the Great Barrington Declaration, of which Dr. Bhattacharya was an author.

Cranks see the world in terms of quid pro quo, be it financial or ideological. If they were in charge, they would only fund projects with which they agreed or whose principal investigator is not a scientific or ideological foe. As a result, they assume that the NIH must function this way when it doesn’t. Whatever its flaws in peer review and its process of determining which grants are funded (and there are significant flaws), using the grant process to stifle “dissent” about COVID-19 public health policies is not one of them, and I suspect that Dr. Bhattacharya, at least, knows it—or once did know it before he got high on his own stash of COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation after he co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration and in the process became a useful idiot for not one but two different astroturf promoters of antivaccine and public health disinformation (AIER and the Brownstone Institute), and turning into one of social media’s foremost “science Kardashians” promoting misinformation. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Indeed, Dr. Bhattacharya and his fellow Great Barrington Declaration authors Martin Kulldorff and Sunetra Gupta are excellent cautionary examples that demonstrate what happens when legitimate scientists get high on their own stash of ideological pseudoscience, misinformation, and conspiracy theories and become useful idiots for ideological actors like Jeffrey Tucker and Phil Magness. It most definitely isn’t pretty, and the descriptor “legitimate” eventually becomes “once-legitimate” and “crank.” The process might be slow or rapid, but it does appear to be almost inevitable.

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]

90 replies on “NIH funding lies weaponized as disinformation”

I see this as part of a wider trend, of people having to demonstrate their allegiance to their tribe by accepting every viewpoint of their group. We see less of a spectrum of opinions than we used to.
What is the world coming to when Alex Berenson coming out against Ivermectin is a rare act of independent ‘thought’?

A. Dr. Kheriaty may not have a lot of publication experience, but he apparently taught ethics at some point, so you’d hope he included some articles on research funding, though he may not have had anything about the NIH process. Who knows?

B. Since Dr. Kheriaty has been involved in such antivaccine efforts as the disingenuous claim that FDA wants to hide documents for decades, and since he appears to lead this organization, https://phmpt.org/

And highly involved in this one, https://aaronkheriaty.substack.com/p/announcing-the-unity-project?s=r I am not inclined to give him
Much benefit of doubt. He is clearly willing to be part of antivaccine efforts. Further, people called this out on Twitter. It’s still up.

It’d be a terrific idea to farm out health research grant money to the states.

“Alaska could fund research on hypothermia, Hawaii on sunstroke, and California on mental illness, etc.”

And the Ohio legislature could appropriate a big chunk of $$ to Dr. Sherri Tenpenny (she’s a doctor, you know) to fund research on how Covid-19 vaccines magnetize people. How else are we going to find the Truth unless we take power from Fauci and his minions?

There’d be a couple of states wanting to do astrology research. But those initiatives probably wouldn’t get funded, because most of the money would be earmarked by those states for creation research.

This is just the latest part of attempting to undermine experts in every possible way. It’s part of the conservative long game that hates to spend any money, but especially on those nerds who fail to toe the line on the real cure for everything–the Creator, and his intelligent designs. Or your detox potion peddler, depending on the source of their resources.

I’m not kidding. The ongoing attempt to tar all academics with COI that outlets like USCherryPickYourMail and Paul [X]Hacker is underway because they can’t win on science. They have to use undermining and poisoning the well. It’s no accident that the Hacker started his career attacking scientists in Chuck Grassley’s office. I do think they have convinced themselves that all scientists are scamming the grant system and are paid by nefarious Soros-related pockets. When the actual irony of this: they are the ones paid to accomplish the undermining.

The apparently unintentional comedy of suggesting each state get it’s own health institute with a specialized research area is amplified by the fact the guy positing this as a remedy for COIs, who proposes California for the mental health specialty, is a psychiatry professor from California.

I give you kudos for that observation. I missed it. Of course, he is no longer faculty in the UC system because he quit rather than get vaccinated against COVID-19, but perhaps the mentality remains.

Being a doctor with a stake in NIH, you naturally took Kheriaty’s proposal at face value. As a fan of Dada, though, I tuned in to the absurdism. I’m happy to contribute in little ways where I can.

“Being a doctor with a stake in NIH, you naturally took Kheriaty’s proposal at face value.”

Indeed. Although nowadays it is far simpler and more efficient to begin by asking “Is there anything in what these chuckleheads just said which is not an open act of grift sedition, and then work back from there.

The NCCIH has a conflict of interest, in that if they honestly published only high-quality studies they would put themselves out of business.

I suspect, of course, that that’s the point of Dr. Kheriaty’s suggestion: To dilute the overall effect of the NIH budget and instead turn it into an ideological or partisan patronage machine for science.

Shades of Lysenko, but with more money lost to corruption and with slightly smaller famines.

You claim there is very little bias in research grant funding, I am not as attuned to NIH funding but I am very familiar with NSF, EPA and DOE funding.

Dr. William Gray was the best example of a researcher losing federal funding for not supporting the consensus science.

“It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong,” he said. “But they also know that they’d never get any grants if they spoke out. I don’t care about grants.”

After making this comment in a speech, Dr. Bill Gray was turned down over 20 times for funding for his research into climate change.

“We’re brainwashing our children,” said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University. “They’re going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It’s ridiculous.”

Prior to this statement CU professor received over 1 million dollars a year in research grants to fund his lab for over 30 years. After making that statement he never was approved for any government funding. Dr. Gray pioneered the study of hurricane forecasting and was one of the leading experts of tropical storms and climate change.

Gosh, Gray couldn’t get science funding for pushing views based on opinion and not science? The horr…

Actually not horror. When someone is a crank on a topic they shouldn’t get funding for pushing their crankery. Serge Lang was a great teacher and number theorist, did great work in opposing Samuel Huntington’s appointment to the National Academy of Sciences, as well as in other areas, but in later years he was a complete crank in his “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” viewpoint and, deservedly, he wasn’t taken seriously. The same principle applies to Gray.

That would probably be around the time he became a climate change denier then.

Gray, who died in 2016, made those comments in 2007, at which time he was retired from Colorado State*. He also said that:

“…a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures — related to the amount of salt in ocean water — is responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place.”

“However, he said, that same cycle means a period of global cooling will begin soon and last for several years.”

“We’ll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realize how foolish it was,” Gray said.”

http://seattletimes.com/nation-world/nature-not-man-is-to-blame-gore-critic-insists/

The 10-15 years have passed, and the period of global cooling Gray predicted doesn’t seem to have materialized. Maybe Gore acolytes hid the data.

*subsequent activities including attacks on other scientists suggest a developing case of Emeritus Syndrome.

His research went to peer review, and was rejected, indeed multiple times . So it seems that his his peers disagreed with him (Actually hey think that his research was not good enough.).
They did not like statements like one you cited, either, Generally calling your peers brainwashed politicakl stooges ia not a very good way to get funding. But it good way to get an atttention of a congressman of astroturf money.
He has belief of some natural cycle, what this is ? Can you yourself mention one ?

LOLOL.

Just from the quotes you cite, I can guess why Dr. Gray can’t get funding. It was almost certainly because his grant applications were, from a scientific standpoint, crap. Note how he dosesn’t say what his research grants were for before he went climate science denial, and, in fact, there’s evidence to support this:

https://www.desmog.com/william-gray/

Quote:

Peter Webster, a Georgia Institute of Technology professor, participated in the anonymous peer review on several of Gray’s National Science Foundation proposals. In every case he has turned down the global warming research component because he believed it was not up to standards, but recommended that Gray’s hurricane research be funded. [2]

Also:

https://www.westword.com/news/the-skeptic-5089763

“In tropical cyclones, he’s got the best legacy of anyone,” says Greg Holland, a senior scientist at NCAR who did his doctoral work under Gray — and now finds himself at odds with his former mentor’s theories. “He’s got former students running major organizations around the world.”

Their criticism of Gray has nothing to do with his age or his politics, and a lot to do with his science and his personal conduct, his opponents say. Gray’s view that the earth’s bump in temperature over the past few decades — nineteen of the twenty hottest years on record have occurred in the last quarter-century — is primarily a result of natural processes, not industry-generated greenhouse gases, has yet to cohere into peer-reviewed research. But he continues to hammer away at other scientists, ridiculing their computer models and talking about “agenda-driven science” and a global-warming “hoax” perpetrated in order to obtain funding for more research.

And:

Georgia Tech’s Webster says he’s been part of the anonymous peer review on several of Gray’s NSF proposals. Each time, he says, he recommended funding for Gray’s hurricane research but turned down the global-warming research component because he believed it wasn’t up to standards. “I have helped Bill get funding over the years,” he says. “This year, I was asked to review his proposal, and I had to recuse myself because of the ad hominem attacks he’s been making.”

And:

Webster says he’s tried to keep the debate with Gray on the scientific high ground, without success. “Bill, for some very good reasons, has been the go-to man on hurricanes for the last 35 years,” he says. “All of a sudden there are a lot of people saying things Bill doesn’t agree with. And they’re getting a lot of press — more press than I like, actually. I like the ivory tower. But he’s become more and more radical.”

Shortly after his paper was published, Webster recalls, “I had a conversation with Bill in which he said he’d have to ‘take me down.’ Then I started getting messages from reporters, asking, ‘What’s this about you taking money? What’s this about voodoo science?'”

It sounds as though, as Gray became more and more radical, his science about climate change suffered and he alienated a lot of his former friends, to the point where one of them recused himself from reviewing Gray’s grants because Gray’s personal attacks on him had made it so that he could no longer be reasonably objective. If anything, this story shows how far a scientist has to go outside of the mainstream to start to harm his funding prospects.

Vaguely medical aside, but I do wonder if anyone has observed elderly scientists who go off the rails from a geriatric perspective? Advancing age is known to correlate with cognitive and emotional changes amongst regular people; and last time we checked scientists were still very much people too‡. Thus, this process of “going emeritus” might have a significant organic component in some (many?) of these cases.

One of the reasons old folks are popular targets for scammers is that changes in the brain can make them excessively trusting; the filters which would once have given them “a bad gut feeling” no longer function. Other personality changes: paranoia, emotional swings, degraded reasoning, poor impulse control; I think anything’s pretty much possible as long as it’s in the overall direction of down.‡

Honestly, dying sucks however you approach it, but one of the “curses” of modern scientific medicine and a technological society is how long we can now drag out the process by years, even decades. Undignified at best, tending to tragic.

To borrow a phrase from the profession: More research needed, perhaps.

(And though I can only speak of my own elective preference, more ice floes wouldn’t go amiss either. Just not at cost of melting the world.)

† Any blinkenboxes in the room notwithstanding.

‡ I had 3 grandparents develop various dementias including Alzheimer’s, and while my own now-elderly parents are still active and alert I have noticed some changes in personality in the last decade such as a quickness to temper; although how much of this might be age as opposed to external stressors—family problems, COVID, etc—I could not say.

You are right. There is bias in research funding. There is bias against funding crank ideas like climate change denial.

In the same way, you won’t see much research funding for how the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump or why 9/11 was an inside job.

@Sophie: “Prior to this statement CU professor received over 1 million dollars a year in research grants to fund his lab for over 30 years.”

Any evidence that this $30M funding was assigned to CSU’s Atmospheric Science lab for AGW research?

Because I am willing to bet that all of this taxpayer money was assigned specifically for cyclone research, which was Gray’s actual area of competence.

Or are you saying taxpayers now deserve to have their hard earned cash pissed away by aging over-the-hill idiots doddering off-course on their own personal vanity projects?

Remind us again: where did you study Public Econ 101? Was it Trump U?

These dismal dopes already have tenure to embarrass themselves; neither employers nor public owe them anything more. If they want cold hard cash too, they can damn well shake down Exxon and Heartland like the rest of the grifters; unlike ours, their pockets are deep and full.

As usual, you lying liars lie by omission and sleight-of-hand as much as by outright falsehoods. But that was just sad. If you’re going to lie in our faces, at least have the common manners to lie with some competence. 2/10, too-obvious bad-faith turd

FYI, your headline is a double entendre. (It took me a few attempts to parse it correctly)

OT, but I’m kinda disturbed that a site opposed to irrational quackery and advocating for public health as yet has no mention of the impending end of Roe v. Wade. So I’m mentioning it.

One consequence of Alito’s opinion, discussed by some pundits, is that any aspect of women’s health care relating to abortion would be scrubbed from med school curricula in Red States. (!!)

I was also resisting the urge to go for cheap ‘state X should research thing A’ gags, but now I’ll suggest the Alabama Institute of Health can give grants on best practices to assist 12 year old incestuous rape victims in bringing their pregnancies to term. (Yes, my use of “gags” rather than “jokes” was deliberate.)

Clarification: In using “the site” above I meant to reference the ‘community’ here at large, not specifically Orac, who has indicated he’s largely away with the foster puppies.

I find it highly disturbing that you haven’t brought up the current legal troubles of Didier Raoult and Paolo Macchiarini, or even alluded in passing to the NHL playoffs.

Well that’s a contender for worst-analogy-ever, since the NHL playoffs are not an impending public health crises, nor are they based in patent falsehoods about both human reproduction and American history, and ‘reasoning’ that makes a complete mockery of the concept.

So, go f*** yourself.

NHL players have been into acupuncture for a while now. And Andre Iguodala is reportedly using it. It didn’t help him play last night though.

sadmar, did you consider just saying what you wanted about abortion instead of castigating others for not bringing it up first?

This is not a knock on you. While you’re a tiresome, endlessly wordy pedant, I like you anyway. 🙂

@ DB
First, I’ll apologize as even my attempt at clarification didn’t really make my intent clear at all. I didn’t mean to castigate anyone. I meant “disturbing” in the sense of weird. And that just in that this momentous thing had happened with all kinds of implications, and there was no sign of that here at all. I not only wasn’t thinking Orac should do a post about it, I wasn’t thinking anyone should make a detailed comment about it, as now appear below. Just a passing mention, a little historical marker, would counter that ‘weird there’s nothing feeling, so I put one in, which answered my own complaint, and I was fine with that being the end of it.

Second, that said, if you felt I was unfairly castigating the RI ‘virtual community’, may I humbly suggest you could have expressed that directly. Your snarky reply came off as callous dismissal of the issue, as being utterly irrelevant here. I can handle a slap at ME, so please understand the f-bomb wasn’t about that. I just have no more tolerance not only for Christo-fascism and the cesspool of lies, hypocrisy and fallacies foisted in support of it, but also for those who deny this particular pandemic.

Anyway, I appreciate the end of your last reply.

@ squirrelelite

Iguodala got one game in after getting the acupuncture, which sounds about right for a placebo effect. I don’t really mind jocks doing certain kinds of (mainly harmless) woo — like kinesiotape e.g. — because they operate at the fine edge of psychology, and have always used whatever methods get them there — superstitions and the like — without troubling those routines with anything like critical thinking.

However, what did annoy me greatly was the sideline announcer in that one game Andre played just gushing about great the Warriors training staff was for getting him this fabulous special treatment that allowed him to play. Of course, no comment followed in the next game where he was back out with the neck pain.

Maybe it’s because Politico just released their sneak peek draft the night before last.
https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/supreme-court-abortion-draft-opinion-00029473

We may not get the final opinion till next month. And one of the judges might rethink their vote.

But if it goes through, it could be the first in a whole series of assaults on human rights. Especially if bodily autonomy is divorced from liberty per the 14th Amendment.

@ squirrelelite:

Your last sentence: my fears as well.

Thinking back over the past few years, what really clued me in to the conservatives’ plan was when Barrett cavalierly said: ” You could always put the child up for adoption”.
It was settled then.

I also recall reading that the first significant opposition to abortion from Protestants was in the 1920’s

This effort largely succeeded. By 1900 every state had a law forbidding abortion at any stage, whether through the use of drugs or procedures. Almost all the laws passed during this time included a therapeutic exception, where licensed physicians could provide abortions at their own discretion as long as the abortion preserved the life of the mother. While this loophole allowed many women to obtain abortions, it also made doctors the ultimate arbiters of the morality and legality of abortions. These laws also created a large black market for women who could not access or obtain abortions through medical channels.”

It’s kind of like the AMA’s scurrilous, AAPSy attacks on Truman’s attempt at universal healthcare.

@Denice Walter: ‘Thinking back over the past few years, what really clued me in to the conservatives’ plan was when Barrett cavalierly said: “You could always put the child up for adoption”. It was settled then.’

Children as Chattel? LOL, that is much older.

See: Abuser Enabler Victim relationships. Spend some hours on r/raisedbynarcissists to really get your blood roiling. Then tell me this is not the same damn mechanics, scaled up for the birth of a nation.

@ has
Reminds me on something I once read in a kind of hippy magazine abut spirituality, eastern philosphies and alterative livestyles, where it was argued that a child that suffered from abusive parents had chosen for this abusive relationship, because it was good for his karma, or something like that. It’s a long time ago I read this and I’m still as mad about it now, as I was when I read this.

@Renate: “I once read in a kind of hippy magazine abut spirituality, eastern philosphies and alterative livestyles, where it was argued that a child that suffered from abusive parents had chosen for this abusive relationship because it was good for his karma … I’m still as mad about it now, as I was when I read this.”

Good. You should be furious. That shows you’re still human.

Now meet DARVO.

I will further posit that—despite any smelly surface appearance to the contrary—your tie-dyed-in-the-wool uber-hippies are at heart just as reactionary conservative as the John Birchers they wouldn’t even cross the road to spit upon if on fire. Absolutist black-vs-white thinking; fear, resentment, and hostility to anything and anyone not-themselves; powerful irrational belief systems as uniting social glue, an unshakeable certainty in their own Rightness, and a streak of egotism leaning into grandiose narcissism which must be fed. There are wetware mechanisms at play here far older and far more fundamental than Left vs Center vs Right, or Science vs Politics vs Religion.

Abuser + Enablers + Victim. The Freedom to Abuse. An algebra that I’ll wager is common all, orthogonal to how each one might express it.

At least back in the “good old days” most folks had to mix up socially to some degree; an obligate input of contradictory opinions which might have kept their more specialized impulses somewhat restrained. But anyone can do anything, just as long as they can psych themselves up to it; i.e. rationalize and justify it to their conscience. While the fuckers who are leading this charge don’t even have any conscience to limit them, so they can do anything as long as the majority which follows continues to enable them.

Warning Warning Warning: This is a positive feedback loop. The deeper one gets in, the costlier it becomes to claw back out. The vast globally-amplifying echo chamber of modern social media has a helluva lot to answer for in rocket-boosting its signal. Who even bothers to bring matches anymore? Just Like and Share! The expenses in mass-producing extremist world views are rapidly approaching zero. And, as your sick hippies attest, everyone is vulnerable, including—especially[?]—those proud to believe that they never could.

Anyway, I once read E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops so I’m pretty certain now we’re just living out the dystopian version of that. I expect the solution proposed imminently will be to burn all the authors, so let us hope your hippie trash lands on that pyre too. So it goes.

Honestly, Sadmar, I wish you hadn’t brought it up because I had managed to not be filled with rage/fear for 5 freaking minutes reading the comments.

But now I’m all angry/scared again, so thanks!

It is literally the only topic in my Twitter feed, my Facebook has gone very quiet with people trying to process/mustering their legal arguments/preparing for influxes of patients, even my Historical Costuming Instagram is talking about it, because they’re people too.

But since you’ve decided we need to talk about it, here’s a horror story for you. Abortion is the least of what the conservatives on the court are after. They’re after Griswald and everything that builds on it, including the concept of privacy (all marriage cases, Lawrence V Texas, and the various state laws about being allowed to sterilize people).
Red State med schools are the least of this.

I, personally, need more puppies to balance the despair.

I didn’t think we needed to talk about it here. I just thought it ought to at least be marked in some small way. But yes, that’s connected to my own despair, which is only made worse if the very real material bases of that appear to be erased. And, to be honest, reading and commenting here is usually a distraction for me, keeping my mind occupied with something other than impending doom (my Scylla) or spinning out of control in a fragmented, disconnected jumble (my Charybdis).

I like puppies, but I couldn’t manage taking care of a dog. I do have a very sweet big Maine Coon cat who calms me down by nestling into the crook of my leg and falling happily to sleep.

@JustaTech: “Abortion is the least of what the conservatives on the court are after.”

You already know what all the Christianists want: A Red under every Bed (except their own, of course).

That is their payment, promised to them 40 years ago, for throwing their vast weight into the Party of Nixon’s century plan for the soft-fascist takeover of American governance.

For the GOP elite, their reward is a de facto one-party police state, providing wealth for them beyond measure. After all, what is “wealth” but a measure of the impassable chasm that separates the elite from everyone else? A degenerate feudal society of self-elected kings and emperors, the little people kept harmlessly in line by eating each other.

This is also exactly what Xi and Putin want for the States; just saying.

Look up “local maxima” in the dictionary: you’ll find the new Fascist Party of America staring right back atcha. It’s an incredibly dangerous game this metastasized GOP is now playing—it could yet kill the body entirely—but the reward to them for triumphing both vast and stable. And now the Party has bet its whole house they must be 100% committed. No backsies: they must do now, or die trying. And with bare 6 months to elections, and your modest majority still complacently slumbering, they are frighteningly close to collecting.

Think it won’t happen? You wish.

@ TBruce:

That’s amazing! I watched her video: when you get a divorce, the correct etiquettte is ALWAYs to post videos of your wedding compleat with faux middle eastern/ polynesian (?) dancing, exotic clothing choices and New Age gurus.

@ Monsieur F:

Autistic? So now she can become a Warrior Mom. / s

HOWEVER, it may be a sneaky way to acknowledge your talents because certain autistic people can be highly intelligent with advanced abilities in focused areas. So can people with SMI- if that is what she dxed you with before- BUT in that case, the dx somewhat tarnishes the value of the talent because they are often viewed as being divorced from reality- whether they are or not.

To be even more flip : isn’t autism usually considered to be restrictive of abilities involving communication ?
If you have that problem, well, the rest of us are all zeroes.

@ Denice Walter

“Autistic? So now she can become a Warrior Mom. / s”

She’s been in the warrior mom role for 40 years. Since the first fake fluor intoxication at least. But, yeah, autism fits in nicely in her mythology. I know she’s obsessed about autism since the 1990s, but she never until now had the nerve to make her fantasy explicit. For the moment, she’s laying the ground work for her lie by insinuations and gossip, getting into the role in the front of other people. She already has two disabled kids she sectioned herself under her control now. With autism, that’s indeed the icing on the cake.

“HOWEVER, it may be a sneaky way to acknowledge your talents because certain autistic people can be highly intelligent with advanced abilities in focused areas.”

Oh ! She’s indeed obsessed with that. Here is a quote from her on the net: “Indeed, the higher the IQ, the worse the psychiatric troubles, especially for boys.” She wrote that pseudo-science BS on the net 20 years ago in her capacity as a psychiatrist on a well-known french medical website after locking up me and my brother. Can’t give the link as that would make my name known. She’s been at the front rows of the IQ-pathologising movement in France. (Pseudo-)scientific papers of her are still available on the net.

I’m fed up honestly. I knew there was this IQ and autism nonsense in the back of her MbP head all these years. Never had a smoking gun to show for it. I still haven’t: it’s gossip and rumours that gets back to me. But they are reliable. She’s laying down the groundwork.

“they are often viewed as being divorced from reality- whether they are or not.”

With 15 forced hospitalisations or so, I’ll never get to be considered to have any touch with reality. I know how the game works. Bonus: it’ll be psychoanalysis for autism, in the french setting. She’ll love the drama.

“To be even more flip : isn’t autism usually considered to be restrictive of abilities involving communication ? If you have that problem, well, the rest of us are all zeroes.”

Yeah. Well I’m a normalien. There were 3 of these ENS schools back then. And officially on my psych records someone with “school problems” (thank you mommy). The fact that’s it’s simply incompatible (you cannot both be on top of the french academic food chain and also have “school problems”, impossible…) doesn’t bother her. Never bothered administrative judges either. They merely check whether the proper paper is rubber stamped. Reality is not their concern. Mommy is allows to stamp these papers.

Her status allows her to pass off her fantasies as science. And we, her kids, have been paying the price for it. And it’s perfectly legal.

@ F68.10
Isn’t there a psychiatrical movement in France, that blames autism on the mother?

I remember someone who was supposed to help me to find a job, who considered I had some form of autism and wanted me to be tested. I didn’t, because I don’t see much use in another label.

@ Monsieur F:

Your daily life sounds awful but you are not entirely helpless. Remember, that I don’t know your exact living situation so I will consider more flexible plans:
— you need to spend less time around her ANY WAY YOU CAN! If you are forced- because of funds- to live in the same place, you need to set up privacy in some way, close doors, sit outside, wear earphones, take a walk, read, write, plan.
I know that this may be difficult especially since you have health issues ( staying in bed) but you need to do this. Any small step counts. Get stronger, even a little.
You are already doing something by writing here and other sites.
— you need allies. You once mentioned your father’s assistance. Is he still alive, available? Even if it is only a phone call. Also, your sibling/ brother.
People at this site “hear you” as well.

If I had to counsel a teenager who lived with an awful mother and had miserable experiences and no financial means to escape I would say something similar:
get away as much as you can, find free entertainment ( parks, libraries, films etc),
work on your studies and interests.
There are other people in the world who will appreciate you.
At home, limit interactions with her as much as is feasible.
Find family or friends who are allies and who understand your situation because they have witnessed it, even if a little bit.
I might suggest groups that might help: The YMCA / universities have places for students to drop in and talk or pursue activities, often for free.

You are very, very smart and can do this- at least, enough to improve your life,
You are not locked up. Hopefully, you can prevent that from ever happening again.

I was going to comment about Roe but thought that it might bring out nasty composite woo/ anti-abortion trolls but here goes…

over the past few days, I haven’t seen any remarks about the leaked ruling from anti-vaxxers** who frequently cry, ” My body, my choice!” and ” Health Freedom” about masks or vaccines yet kept alarmingly still about the situation that birthed that first rallying cry originally.
Nothing. Even from self-identified feminists like Rossi and Wright.

I venture that perhaps they want to keep anti-abortion/ anti-vax followers happy since they seem to be courting right wingers in general.
But consider this-
how can you shriek about the terrible imposition of being forced to wear a mask or being VACCINATED against your will and tolerate being forced to have a child against your will?
I can’t see how they could do it. Freedom?

HOWEVER there is probably a way they can reconcile this to themselves by saying “Save the children” from masks, vaccines, lockdowns, pedophiles and abortionists. But then, their advocacy of women’s rights gets rather dodgy.

** one glaring exception is Mikey discussing “demon-infested baby killers”

Alright:
I just scanned all of the usual suspects ( woo-meisters, anti-vaxxers, natural health, freedom advocates) and found that:
— although they claim that they support women, there is virtually no comment about the leaked court papers even though they cover US politics
— exceptions were only @ Age of Autism ( but not @ KimRossi 1111 though both are written by the same person)
AND NN, where Mikey discusses “demon-infested baby killers” ( i.e. most Americans) and predicts that this ruling will “save the world” from the wrath of god.
— I discover that Green Med Info is not functioning

I imagine that alties fear losing anti-abortion followers so they limit their support of women only to vaccine/ Covid/ public health denialism.
Being afraid to mention support for women’s health choice is ALSO denial of public health as well as being against women’s freedom.

@ JustaTech:
Look at that! We wrote at exactly the same time>

@ Denice Walter

Hey ! Breaking news: Mommy now thinks I’m autistic.

I just can’t wait to admire how she’ll try to pull this one off…

It’ll be just one more label anyhow. And back to psych wards. Just can’t wait.

Solitary confinement, here I come !!!

@ Narad

Nice to see you back on this blog.

@Denice Walter: “how can you shriek about the terrible imposition of being forced to wear a mask or being VACCINATED against your will and tolerate being forced to have a child against your will?”

This lot? Dead easy.

Of course, I realize you rhetorically jest here; however, this is quick to mansplain if you’d like to stand back for a moment:

Only dirty loose filthy whores get knocked up with bastard kids. Whereas they and their offspring are pure and white as driven snow. This is both self-evident and self-confirming—exactly how the world should be to their Purity Cult.

(And for any little oopsies of their own, a quick skiing trip abroad quietly takes care of that.)

Call this the trickle-down theory of Toxic Conservativism: i.e. having people below you to piss on so you can feel superior to them without needing to do any real work. And if there aren’t enough losers to appreciate your golden showers, just create more!

Nothing. Even from self-identified feminists like Rossi and Wright.

You may recall that AoA objected to antepartum “autism testing” (all the while denying that genetics have anything to do with it) on the basis that it was just a plan to kill off their bread and butter.

@F68.10: Thanks. I’m afraid that I’m worse for wear, but I’ll always have being clapped into a shithole <a href=”https://parrislaw.org/baker-act/>the Baker Act. They’re not called BARFs for nothing.

What a load of narcissistic gobbledegook this is.

I almost spewed reading that. Although that could have been the novovirus I am currently infected with.

I agree with sadmar — we here in the US should be very worried — about the point of this comment.

Abortion is the least of what the conservatives on the court are after.

Here in MI all of the republican hopefuls for attorney general were on record saying they believed the law that allowed couples to use birth control was wrongly passed and shouldn’t be in place. Republican wanna-be candidates didn’t get looked at unless they backed the “stolen election” crap and so supported crackdowns on voting rights.

Regarding this most recent decision, nobody should believe for a second alito was being honest when he wrote

Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,”

(Note: I’m not implying you should believe anything he says at any time.)

He doesn’t mention what those other precedents might be, but he used similar rationale in his dissent in the ruling over same-sex marriage, where he said

…the 14th Amendment’s due process promise protects only rights deeply rooted in America’s history and tradition

He then finished |

And it is beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage is not among those rights

So yes, Sadmar is quite right in being concerned. The people in charge of the most powerful court in the world have a limited view about which people in the US deserve rights and equal treatment, and it doesn’t seem to extend beyond well-off white men.

Respectful insolence

Locally, here in MI, all of the republican hopefuls for attorney general were on record saying they believed the law that allowed couples to use birth control was wrongly passed and shouldn’t be in place. Republican wanna-be candidates didn’t get looked at unless they backed the “stolen election” crap and so supported crackdowns on voting rights. Whether they are able to move on those things I can’t say, and I’m not sure they’d have the widespread support for them they think they would. I would hope people would not back attacks on the rights to birth control, same sex marriage, and voting, but I know I see rural yards between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids full of signs for one candidate or another, almost all republican, and all of those saying “endorsed by trump”.

I’m afraid too many people don’t know just how much danger the modern right poses to democracy.

“they believed the law that allowed couples to use birth control was wrongly passed and shouldn’t be in place”

Am I reading that correctly? They would like to make birth control illegal AND prevent abortion?

Am I reading that correctly? They would like to make birth control illegal AND prevent abortion?

Yes, you got it. They were asked about the birth control thing early on, they all had to google it before they realized that there was such a law, and they all opposed it. One tried to tie it to “state’s rights”, the catch-all BS for the far right. I’m not sure what reason(s) the others gave, if they gave one at all.

Abortion — opposed for the usual things: it “kills babies”, “harms the women”, is “unduly pushed on poor inner-city women” — all the usual BS.

@ Number Wang:

I understand that they would first attack birth control that prevents pregnancy by interfering with implantation of a fertilised egg such as IUDs as well as “morning after pills” and OBVIOUSLY, chemical abortions by meds.

In vitro procedures could be banned as well because excess fertilised eggs are usually discarded.
I imagine that they could find reasons to ban standard birth control pills and other methods including barrier methods: never doubt their ability to find ways to control women.

A few weeks ago, I predicted that the US might fall into a former Yugoslavia-like confederacy of disparate regions because of general politics- with this development, that vision would be the best of possible scenarios – women’s rights in particular places and not in others but at least in some places.

I have wondered if Orac, being in Michigan, would comment about the multiple wtf hoisted by Kristina Karamo. This is classic fringe stuff: yoga is a tool of Satan, as are Ariana Grande, Cardi B and Billie Eilish; Beyoncé is leading black people away from Jesus and into paganism; evolution is a demonic lie, yadda yadda yadda. She’s also vehemently anti-LGBTQ, calling them all pedos and groomers, and supports conversion therapy. But since she also posits that the 1/6 rioters were all actually antifa, and (of course) that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump she’s now the GOP endorsed candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, having won TFG’s endorsement for that post.

But I do realize that this “Satan is Everywhere!” craziness is only tangentially related to medical science and public health (she shares Clarence Thomas’s view on Roe, unsurprisingly) and also the kind of thing you can’t really debunk, since it doesn’t make the pretense to evidence characteristic of pseudoscience.

But yeah, with people like Karamo rising to GOP leadership in the states, legal challenges to Obergefell (marriage equality), Lawrence (sodomy), and Griswald (contraception) are probably on the way.

To bring the emboldened new right and it’s SCOTUS closer to RI home, the ‘reasoning’ in Alito’s opinion parallels that striking down the OSHA vaccine mandates, and the district court in FL striking the transportation mask mandate. So the principles advanced in overturning Roe are also in part predicate for dismantling the entire federal apparatus of public health: CDC, FDA, OSHA… kicking everything back to the states.

Away from the SCOTUS, the new right has another idea for government institutions: not dismantling them, but turning them into purely partisan tools of the Dear Leader’s authoritarian rule, c.f J. D. Vance calling for Trump, in a second term, to “fire every mid-level bureaucrat, every civil servant [and] replace them with our people.”

@ Sadmar
That yoga thing, reminds me on some religious magazines in The Netherlands, opposing things like yoga, judo, karate and other eastern fighting sports, because they were from satan or something likewise, because of the philosophical ideas, behind those sports.

Note: I’m not implying you should believe anything [Alito] says at any time.

I take his decision in United States v. Stiver at face value: 1993-era phones are seizable “drug paraphernalia.” Similarly for Baker v. Monroe Township, which may have been the most f*cked up (PDF) thing that he’s had the opportunity to sink his toenails into.

@NumberWang: “Am I reading that correctly? They would like to make birth control illegal AND prevent abortion?”

Sure. With effective family planning, birth control, and sex-ed, where are they going to obtain their constant fix of fallen women and bastard kids?

Ending reproductive rights is not their goal. It is only a means to their goal.

To understand what that goal is, see their behavior in perspective of abusive relationships.

There is a popular Progressive narrative that this is the “Conservative War on Women”, but this totally misses the mark. It’s not really about gender or color; it’s about the Right to Abuse One’s Inferiors; those who stand lower in strict social hierarchy than themselves. While being female or black means you start lower down, you can still rise to the peak of your local maxima through unswerving dedication and vicious hard effort. And for many who would otherwise be unremarkable mediocre nobodies, that is a tempting height indeed.

Thus there are also tens of millions of American women also advancing this agenda with gleeful enthusiasm, leveraging the patriarchy to drag down all the women now above themselves just so that they can be chief hens in the henhouse. This new Social Order not only makes them personally powerful, it also acts to keep their juniors loyal and compliant, with the promise both of the power to be someday theirs in turn and also the fearful knowledge of what happens to anyone who earns the hierarchy’s displeasure.

The result? A very stable, rigid, fixed hierarchical social system, where the members who most devoutly enforce the correct hierarchy at their own level receive their just rewards, as do those who flout it. Everything Toxic Conservatism craves like a psychopathic crack addict.

The American Dream says that with sufficient hard work and vision, one can raise oneself up. But these lazy entitled talentless shits have long since worked out that they can most easily lift their own status by stomping others down.†

It is not about Wade vs Roe or “rights of the unborn”; it is about the Power Over Others that these venal opportunists can accrue for themselves by redefining reality itself. That is the Why which drives all the rest; the corpses in their wake just cherries on top. It is why I label these people “Kmart Rouge”, and why I say taking back control of Language and Narrative is everything right now.

Their lies are merely their tool and they will always make more. It is the tool users themselves you have to break to prevent their continued use. That means crawing under their skin where all their skeletons live and smashing their motives for lying. Because the bastards are really rolling now; and if you cannot halt them using words and ballot box then your choices are to submit quietly or try bullets instead, and your chances then will be much poorer.

Orwell once said, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.” Memorably pat, but uselessly non-specific.

Replace “a boot” with “fat white Conservative lady buttocks”, and the picture now makes practical sense.

The real enemy is not the apex Abuser—those will always exist. It is the great mass of Enablers now raising them up, in return for their own license to abuse others pushed down beneath them: the Ultimate Conservative MLM.

† As for those who deliberately weaponize these worst traits in ordinary people to raise themselves to absolute power—we all know who they are—well I won’t say anything except to ponder that fragging might be a valid military response to orders both illegal and grotesquely immoral; and if we’d had a bit more of that in the past then we might’ve had a lot fewer world wars.

Idw56old writes,

“Major apologies for the duplicated paragraph in my previous post. Can I blame not having had my morning coffee/walk?”

MJD says,

Apology accepted, Idw56old.

@ Orac,

You’ve mishandled auto-moderation here at RI in that my comments are often delayed. For example, it will likely take 1-2 days before Idw56old (aka.,The blamer) reads MJD’s thoughtful comment.

“because of the philosophical ideas, behind those sports.”

Which was, initially, beating the crap out of people.

@MJD: “MJD’s thoughtful comment”

Ah, I see now why our most gracious host still allows you around. Thank you, MJD, for bringing your self-absorbed nonsense to the end of the party. We needed the laugh.

You’ve mishandled auto-moderation here at RI in that my comments are often delayed. For example, it will likely take 1-2 days before Idw56old(aka.,The blamer) reads MJD’s thoughtful comment.

I don’t know whether, for the first time ever MJD, you’re right about something or not. The sad truth is another one of your fact free, substance free, science free, all-about-yourself posts has popped up.

And the blamer is the best “insult” your minimal imagination can conjure up? Here’s a clue: stop being a science-denying twit who pushes pure rubbish in “pay your way” journals, then you might not be blamed for pushing twaddle, which to date has been your stock-in-trade.

@idw56old,

The Twitter story from Steve Schmidt was very interesting.

I watched a YouTube video (I think) talking about the evolution of Republican attitudes toward abortion. It mentioned that McCain’s 2000 campaign foundered when he tried to indicate limited support for abortion rights while W was definitely “agin it”. I think there was a question whether he would get an abortion for Meghan if she was raped. I think he sort of dodged that one.

But at least he helped keep he ACA alive.

But the corruption in high level U.S. politics is appalling. And it has only gotten worse since Citizens United.

@idw56old (2nd link)

A very interesting but disturbing link. I hope Kansas voters have the sense to vote down the anti-abortion amendment in August. But I’m not sanguine about that.

@squirrelelite:

The birth control messages from our republicans are scary enough. This (to me) is scarier: This weekend one candidate for governor, Ryan D. Kelly, said:

those on the left want to “push this idea of democracy,” but that “in every instance” democracy ends up as communism.

He got quite a few cheers from the people he was addressing.

@Idw56old,

I shudder to think about it. I’m a little surprised he doesn’t openly espouse Fascism. Fortunately he is not one of the top three candidates among 10 or 12 Republicans. And Governor Whitmer is still favored to win what is likely to be a very noisy and contentious race. But I definitely hope the Michigan voters show some sense in August and November.

“I’ll suggest the Alabama Institute of Health can give grants on best practices to assist 12 year old incestuous rape victims in bringing their pregnancies to term”

Apparently all you have to do is talk to your male friends and relatives and it’ll stop all that sort of thing from happening (says at least one f#@kwit who likes the idea of getting rid of Roe vs Wade). Well, it worked for all the other crimes didn’t it?

@NumberWang: “Apparently all you have to do is talk to your male friends and relatives and it’ll stop all that sort of thing from happening”

I’m sure you’ll know this already but the Conservative goal is not to end rape, incest, and child molestation; it’s to end it being talked about.

A conservative culture’s first duty is to protect itself. From criticism, from disruption; from anything which might upset its natural order and each member’s standing within it. Which it achieves most easily by rallying around the popular abuser and ostracising the lone victim for daring to speak the silent parts aloud.

So as long as it’s never admitted then abuse doesn’t exist in their house. Their “outrage” is all performative, with tons of projection. And even when one is caught so balls-deep in a choirboy that none can deny it, it is never their fault. The rationalizations are both copious and endless; firehosing the act itself into irrelevance.

Want to know where lots of abusers are hiding? Just start with an abusive society.

They won’t. They don’t. Because they already know. It is Conservative Omertà: the blind eyes turned as payment for other services rendered. Discretion is a tradeable currency. For the very wealthy, the power of Privilege and the privilege of Power. And for the all little people, a seller’s market.

Remember: once all are guilty, nobody is.

See also: Chinatown; The Narcissist’s Prayer.

Do anti-abortion advocates oppose standard or low dose birth control pills?
Yes: two religiously oriented websites ( hli.org, epm.org**) call them abortifacients because they interfere with implantation ( in their view; Planned Parenthood says otherwise)

** for some ungodly reason they don’t supply the names of their orgs. I wonder why?

“It is well known that distrust of science is the sine qua non of science denial”

What a ridiculous opening sentence, even for you. “Science”, or more precisely, the scientific method is BASED on distrust. A self-respecting scientist doesn’t uncritically believe every single half-baked explanation put forth by their colleagues. On the contrary. There is an expectation that hypotheses will be backed up by evidence, that published results are can be independently confirmed through repeated application of a procedure, and that the interpretation of data are logically consistent with observations. I think you know this.

So why on earth should any self-respecting scientist (or lay-person for that matter) uncritically believe a company with 30-billion reasons to misrepresent their product? (Or the funding agency they’ve captured?) If you want people to believe your “science”, there is a simple solution: back it up.

Just because “science” makes something possible doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. I’m adamantly against nuclear weapons. Doesn’t make me “anti-science”.

@ Chaos Infusion

“If you want people to believe your “science”, there is a simple solution: back it up.”

Which is precisely what scientists do.

Thank you.

Just because “science” makes something possible doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. I’m adamantly against nuclear weapons. Doesn’t make me “anti-science”.

Okay then. I guess your reasoning is as follows:

Nuclear weapons blow things up. I’m adamantly against nuclear weapons.

Vaccines prevent infectious diseases. I’m adamantly against vaccines.

But don’t call me anti-science!!!

“So why on earth should any self-respecting scientist (or lay-person for that matter) uncritically believe a company with 30-billion reasons to misrepresent their product?”

Pharmaceutical companies are not the only people looking at the effectiveness of their products. Hard as it is to believe, America isn’t the only country in the world and isn’t even world leader in everything.

Plenty of scientists do not uncritically believe the results of studies by pharmaceutical companies. The trouble is, you ignore them too because your opinion is based on belief. Much like racism, you can’t back up your position, except with fringe opinions and motivated reasoning.

I’m adamantly against nuclear weapons. Doesn’t make me “anti-science”

That’s an asinine statement. if you were trying to be consistent in your views you’d be saying “nuclear weapons don’t work”, contradicting everything we know about them. Just the way you say “vaccines don’t work” despite everything we know about them.

@Clutching Infuriation: “What a ridiculous opening sentence, even for you. “Science”, or more precisely, the scientific method is BASED on distrust.”

Sophistry does not become you, CI. Best you stick to what you’re good at: throwing your own poo, mostly.

Self respecting scientist tries to find answers. Science starts with doubt, does not end with it

Just a note. I have a grant deadline this week, which is why there hasn’t been a post since Monday. I’m not sure if I’ll have anything until Monday, but I might have something tomorrow.

Let’s just say that, as much as I still love blogging, I’ve finally learned to step away from the blog when real life interferes.

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